Learning with Laura Ingalls Wilder and “Little House on the Prairie”

Posted on March 22, 2016 in Reading, Third Grade.

Little House on the Prairie is one of the four literary analysis units third grade enjoys each year. There are so many learning opportunities built into reading it. Students are able to compare their lives to that of children crossing the country by covered wagon to settle in Kansas in the 1870s. We discuss the difference between historical fiction and non-fiction, and we use Laura Ingalls Wilder’s excellent prose to identify the key elements of figurative language and to journal about her work and similar books in our Reader/Writer journals. We take our time, read the novel slowly, and use it as the launching pad for many discussions including American History and westward expansion, cultural contributions of Native Americans, tolerance, courage, and God’s abundant grace.
The culminating events of this exploration are our trip to Pioneer Farms, where students can compare their lives to that of early Texas settlers, and “Little House on the Prairie Day.” While Pioneer Farms gives us the opportunity to run around outside and possibly encounter lizards and snakes, “Little House on the Prairie Day” is perhaps the most cherished event for our third graders. They spend a day dressed in pioneer clothing and spend the morning and afternoon participating in a number of pioneer activities like washing dirty clothes with a washboard, making corn husk dolls, tasting molasses and cornbread, making butter, and playing prairie games. This year, out time in the garden may give the class a fuller understanding of what was involved in being self-sufficient and sustaining on the Kansas prairie. Our work on Little House on the Prairie begins following Spring Break! Watch for us as we learn.

– Melissa McDaniel, 3rd Grade Teacher

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