Little House 
on the Prairie
an Adventure
A Literary Adventure for 4th Grade

Designed by: Mary Jones 
Revised by Susannah Smith
February 2006
 
 

Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits | Teacher Page



Introduction

The eastern United States was becoming crowded. Small farmers and would be farmers were given an opportunity to move west to inexpensive, or often, free land. This was called homesteading. Pa Ingalls, Laura Ingalls Wilder's father was one of these would be farmers. Ms. Wilder wrote many books about her family's adventures in the west. Little House on the Prairie was the first. The goal of this quest is to add enjoyment to your reading and to help you understand the time in which Ms. Wilder lived. You will be learning about living on the frontier by keeping a journal of your reading and participating in activities I have designed for you.

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The Task

As a reader we can assume many roles. We may be outsiders looking at the lives of the people in the book. We may put ourselves in the place of one of the characters of the book. We may imagine ourselves as part of the story. Regardless of the role we assume we must become involved with the book to really understand what the author is telling us. To help you do this we will be involved the the following tasks:

1. You will put yourself into the story by keeping a daily reading journal.

2. You will learn about the native people that the Ingalls family met. 

3. You will learn about some of the animals that were talked about in this story.

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The Process

*Read through the the introduction before you begin.

INTRODUCTION

  • Historical fiction is a story that is set in the past. Some elements of the story are true, others are not. Laura's family did have a little house on the prairie and Laura wrote her book based on what she knew about that time. Go to this link to read the "real" true story. When you are done click the back button to return to your adventure. www.marshall.edu/~irby1/laura/independence.html  
  • As Laura got older she kept a journal. A large part of your quest will be to keep a journal of your reading. You will need a spiral notebook to write your entries in. After each daily reading make a journal entry from Laura's point of view. For instance, if you are reading about the time they lost their beloved dog Jack, you would write and entry from Laura's point of view, as if you were her. You would write about the events of the day and how you felt loosing Jack. Keep in mind, you will have additional entries I have assigned in the quest. 
  • I have selected several stopping points in your reading and have links and other activities for you to do when you reach those pages. It may help if you book mark those pages so you will know to return to this quest when you get to each point. Read through the list and book mark those pages. Then begin your reading. 
QUEST

1. Stop at the end of page 15: There were many reasons people left there homes and started a new life in the west. Pa thought the big woods of Wisconsin were too crowded. Link here to read about the Homestead Act which encouraged many people to move west. Write about the Homestead Act in a separate entry in your journal. Title your entry THE HOMESTEAD ACT.

Laura talked about how they packed the wagon. They didn't take the furniture because they could make new. 

Look at this picture of the inside of a wagon. There isn't much room. If you had to move and could only take a few things, what would you take. List 10 items in your journal and justify why you would take them. Title your entry MY FAVORITE THINGS.

2. STOP at the end of page 27: Laura's family had just made a dangerous crossing of the creek and in the process have lost their dog Jack. Laura is upset and Pa said that he didn't know how they were going to get by without a good watchdog like Jack. Write in your journal why loosing Jack was so important.  Title this entry JACK.

3. STOP at the end of page 51. Laura had talked about the Groundhogs she chased in the prairie. More likely they were prairie dogs. Click here to find out more about prairie dogs. Prairie Dogs

4. STOP at the end of page70. Included in all of Laura's books is the reference to Pa's fiddle and the music he played. Click here and select some songs to listen to. Pa's Fiddle Music enjoy.

5. STOP at the end of page79. Pa had made many trips to the creek bottoms to get logs for their log house. Many pioneers on the prairie were not fortunate to have a log home and had to build sod houses. A sod house is made of "bricks" of earth. Go here to learn more about them. Sod Houses   Write in your journal under the heading SOD HOUSES what you think it would be like living in a sod house.

6. STOP at the end of page 98. Pa had encountered the prairie's most dangerous predator, the wolf. It was very important that settlers protected themselves and their livestock from this predator. Look here to learn more about wolves. Wolf Country | The Wolf Pack Write in your journal 5 things you learned about wolves. Title this entry Wolves.

7. STOP at the end of page 119.  Laura and her family were very dependent on the land.  There were no large home improvement stores or toy stores.  Think of what you like to do in your leisure (free) time and think about what Laura and Mary did.  Write in your journal what you would do if you were a child in the Ingalls family.  Title this entry LEISURE TIME.

8.  STOP at the end of page 146.  Two Indians came into the Ingalls' home.  Ma and the girls were very afraid.  In your journal tell how you would feel if two strangers who spoke a language you could not speak came into your home and you were not sure if they were friendly or not. Title this entry STRANGERS.

9.  STOP at the end of page 161.  In pioneer times neighbors had to depend on each other for many things.  Pa had to get help from their neighbor, Mr. Scott, to dig the well. In your journal describe a time when you had to ask a friend for help to get something done.  Title this entry HELP FROM OTHERS.

10. STOP at the end of page 171. The Ingalls family had become settled in their new home but were still doing without some of the things they were used to. Everyone was excited about the new cow and the prospects of having milk and possibly even butter. Go to this site to see how butter is made.You will be working in pairs to make your own butter. Butter  Go to this link to get the directions for making butter. Making Butter See your teacher for the materials and ingredients. In your journal under the heading BUTTER write about the difference between the butter you made and store bought butter.

11. STOP at the end of page 198.  The Ingalls family all got very sick and Dr. Tan said it was because of eating watermelons.  Pa seemed not to believe Dr. Tan and he ate watermelon anyway.  Today, because of science we know that just eating watermelon will not make you sick.  In your journal write why you think Dr. Tan thought the watermelon made them sick.  Make the heading SICKNESS.

12. STOP at the end of page 233. The illustrator of the book, Garth Williams, drew a picture of the Indians that came to the Ingalls home on page 233. This is a picture of an Osage Indian.

Compare this picture to the one on page 233. Did Williams capture the image of the Osage. In other words did he draw an Osage. Why would it be important for the illustrator to be as accurate as the author when illustrating a historical fiction book. Write your response in your journal under OSAGE. 

Click here for more information on the OSAGE.Osage Information  When you have finished looking at Osage History look at this web site to see where they lived.  You w will need to scroll down to the section titled Osage Relocation. Osage RelocationIn your journal create a heading OSAGE FAST FACTS. Make an entry under that heading of 3 to 5 of the facts you found most interesting about the OSAGE tribe.

13. Stop at the end of page 262. Already the family had to deal with Indians, wolves, hunger, malaria, now what. A panther. Click here to learn more about panthers. A panther is also know as a puma or a cougar. Puma

In order to keep their families safe both Pa and the Indian wanted to kill the panther.  In your journal create the heading INDIANS AND SETTLERS.  Discuss how the lives of the settlers and the lives of the Indians were alike.  Did all the people who lived on the prairie have the same concerns?

14.  Stop at the end of page 285.  A prairie fire swept across the land and put the Ingalls home in danger. Prairie fires are still a problem today in plains states today. In your journal create the heading PRAIRIE FIRE.  Discuss how the book described how Ma & Pa fought the fire and how a fire would be fought today.

15.  Stop at the bottom of page 311.  The Ingalls family watched as all of the Indians rode away.  The whole family seemed very sad to see the Indians leave.  In your journal under the heading INDIANS RIDE AWAY write why you think that watching the Indians leave makes the Ingalls family so sad.

16.  Stop at the bottom of page 321.  The government was sending soldiers to remove settlers (kick them out) from the Indian Territory.  Find Independence, Kansas and Washington D.C., on these maps. Map 1  Map 2. In your journal under the heading GOVERNMENT respond to this question: Do you think that being so from from the U.S. government made the situation better or worse?  Why?

17. Stop at the end of the book. Your final entry into your journal is an evaluation of this WebQuest. What specifically did you like about it? What did you not like? What was the most interesting? What made it difficult? Your comments will help me to make this adventure better.

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Evaluation
 
  Beginning

1

Developing

2

Accomplished

3

Exemplary

4

Score

Student will reflect on the story by writing journal entries in the first person. The entries should reflect the thoughts and feelings of Laura as she recounts the details of her adventure.
Student will make limited entries with little or no reflection. Student's entries will resemble a summary in the third person rather in the first person. Student will make journal entries in the first person. All, or nearly all entries will be completed. Student will write in the first person and reflect on more than one event if presented in the reading. Student will write in the first person and reflect on all significant events in the story. Student will show emotion in their writing when reflecting.  
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Conclusion

By participating in this adventure you have been an active reader which added to your understanding of the story. If you enjoyed this book you may enjoy many other historical fiction stories. Check out another in the Little House series or look for other historical fiction stories by other authors.

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Credits & References

Thanks to Amazon for their graphic of the cover of the book.

Thanks to http://hoover.nara.gov/kids/index.html for the Covered Wagon.

Thanks to www.fortosagefriends.org/indian.html for the picture of the Osage Indian. I regret that in the few days since retrieving this picture from this site I have not be able to open it.

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Teacher Page

This adventure addresses the following educational standards:

Missouri Grade Level Expectations (GLEs)-Grade 4

READING:
 

1.  Develop and apply skills and strategies to the reading process
D. Fluency: Read grade-level instructional text: a. with  fluency, accuracy and expression, b. adjusting reading rate to difficulty and type of text.
I.  Identify and explain connections between: a. text ideas-information and relationships in various fiction and nonfiction works, b. text ideas and own experiences, c. text ideas and the world by demonstrating an awareness that literature reflects a culture and historic frame.

WRITING:
    3. Audience and Purpose

E. Write informational reports, diary/journal entries, organized friendly letters, thank you letters and invitations in a format appropriate to an intended audience and purpose.


Last updated on January 3, 2007.