Integrating Social Studies with the Little House Books

By Patricia Gable

My First Little House Book Series is geared to students age 3 to 8 and are a great series to use in the classroom. These teaching ideas cover social studies topics that fulfill several curriculum objectives.

Have you ever thought of writing social studies lesson plans using the Little House on the Prairie books? For early elementary students in grades two and three (and perhaps a little older) it’s a perfect fit. Use the Little House books to enhance the teaching of the following typical objectives found in the second and third grade social studies curriculum:

1. Compare daily life in the past and present: food, toys, clothing, shelter

2. Learning modes of transportation as it relates to patterns of settlement

3. Map Skills: Following travel on a map of the United States

4. Learn about the variety of landforms, climate and vegetation in regions of the United States

5. Understanding how pioneers used available resources to build shelters

6. Types of food using available resources

Prairie Day

My First Little House Book Series: Prairie Day is adapted from the writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder and written for ages 3-8.14491386 

Materials:

Map of the United States

Book: My First Little House Book Series: Prairie Day

Before reading, tell the children that you want them to listen for all the things that are different in Laura’s life than in the students’ lives. Specifically ask them to notice the food and food preparation, toys, entertainment and forms of travel. Read the book Prairie Day to the students, being mindful to give time to study the illustrations by Renee Graef.

Follow-up Questions:

1. Where did Laura’s family live at the beginning of the book? Where did they stop to build a house? (Use a map to point out the locations.)

2. What did they buy in the town of Pepin? (Pepin, Wisconsin is known as Laura’s birthplace.)

3. How did the family travel?

4. What are nose-bags? (Filled with corn, they are attached to a horse’s nose so he can eat.)

5. Where did they sometimes stay at night? (a tiny house for travelers)

6. Where did they get water?

7. How did they cook? What is an “iron spider"?

8. How did the landscape begin to change?

9. What animals did they see?

10. How did the girls entertain themselves during the long journey?

Activity

Use a 12" x 18" piece of white or manila colored construction paper. Demonstrate to the students how to fold the paper in half lengthwise. Then fold the paper into thirds. When it is opened it should have six squares.

On the top row children are going to write these three labels, one on the top of each square: (Remind them to leave room for an illustration.)

My food, My toys, My way to travel

On the bottom row do the same thing using these labels:

Laura’s food, Laura’s toys, Laura’s way to travel

Then instruct students to draw/color corresponding illustrations in each square.

A Little Prairie House

Again, this is an adaptation of the writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder. A Little Prairie House documents Laura’s family when they first move to the prairie.

51uh56AdIeL. SS400 After reading:

Questions:

1. Explain the process of building the house on the prairie.

2. What kind of food did they eat? Why?

Activity

Divide students into four groups. Do you need help choosing a fair way to divide students into groups or to fairly assign topics? Click here and read the “Muti-function File Cards" section.

Each group will do research on a topic. The group will give a presentation and make a visual aid. The abilities of the group, will dictate how much specific direction you should give them. Use library books, encyclopedias or computer websites.

The four topic choices are:

Sod Houses

Find out why they built sod houses and what they used to make sod houses. Build a miniature sod house.

Log Homes

Where did the pioneers find the supplies? What was the process to build it? Build a miniature version.

Pioneer toys and games

What kinds of indoor and outdoor games did the children play? What kind of toys did they have? Make a game for the students to demonstrate.

Pioneer Food Sources

What kinds of food did they have to hunt? What did they grow. Describe examples of food preparation. Prepare a sample of food for the class.

Writing social studies lesson plans using the Little House on the Prairie books is a perfect fit for your enhancing your social studies objectives!