A Little House virtual field trip

A Little House Virtual Field Trip ~SimpleHomeschool
Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom

As I’ve written before, the Little House books have influenced my life since I first read them as a little girl. I’ve read the entire series several times and have always had a dream–a dream that this year is going to come true!

I’ve always wanted to walk where Laura walked, see where she lived, and be inspired as a family along the way. Well, this summer it’s happening!

In June we’ll be heading west as a family–not in a covered wagon, but a minivan–to the Little House sites in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota on a massive road trip.

I’m beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to do this as a family, but then I thought–why not take you guys along with me?

Of course, you won’t all fit in the minivan, but why not put together a virtual field trip so you can take your kids to Laura’s homes from your dining room or coffee table?

Ready? Let’s go!

Stop 1. Pepin, Wisconsin

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Books written about this site: Little House in the Big Woods

Head to Little House in the Big Woods on Google Earth

Laura was born in the Big Woods in 1867, and she describes this first childhood home in Little House in the Big Woods. The Ingalls lived here twice, and the memories Laura shares in the book actually take place after they returned from the Kansas prairie.

If you look at the satellite view, you’ll see that only a few trees remain, but there’s a replica cabin located at the site and a picnic area to hang out in.

Take a tour of Little House, Pepin:

(If reading in a reader, click here for the video.)

Learn more about Pepin:

Stop 2. Independence, Kansas

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Books written about this site: Little House on the Prairie

Head to Little House on the Prairie on Google Earth

Laura’s family moved here in 1869 and settled on land belonging to the Osage Indians, having received word that the land would soon be available for settlers. After a year of persevering through hardships and dealing with tensions between the Indians and settlers, the Ingalls were forced to leave Kansas.

Today a replica cabin sits on the site, furnished the way Laura described in the book. Pa’s hand dug well stands nearby as well.

Take a tour of the Laura’s little house as it looks today:

(If reading in a reader, click here for the video.)

Learn more about the Kansas site:

Stop 3. Walnut Grove, Minnesota

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Books written about this site: On the Banks of Plum Creek

Head to Walnut Grove on Google Earth (the dugout site is just north of the “A” on this map)

After leaving Kansas and spending a few years back in Wisconsin, the Ingalls moved to Minnesota in 1874 and lived in a sod house for the winter. Pa eventually built a house on the property (which Laura called “the wonderful house,” as it was the largest she had lived in at that point).

Both houses are gone, but Plum Creek–ah, that’s still there! I’m looking forward to taking off my shoes and wading in it, just like Laura did.

The site of the dugout has been marked, and Walnut Grove has a museum dedicated to Laura and the time period. The church bell that Pa donated his shoe money for hangs at a church in town as well.

Tour the site of plum creek and Laura’s home:

(If reading in a reader, click here for the video.)

And take a walk on the banks of plum creek:

(If reading in a reader, click here for the video.)

Learn more about the Minnesota site:

Stop 4. De Smet, South Dakota

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Books written about this site: By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, The First Four Years

Head to De Smet on Google Earth

After suffering disappointments in both Minnesota and Iowa, where the Ingalls lived for a short time, the family decided to move further west so Pa could work for the railroad as it expanded through South Dakota. This ended up being their final move until Laura, Mary, Carrie, and Grace left home as adults.

De Smet is the site of the Long Winter, the site of Laura’s courtship with Almanzo Wilder, and the start of their married life together.

Tour the Little Town on the Prairie:

(If reading in a reader, click here for the video.)

Learn more about De Smet:

Stop 5. Malone, New York

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Books written about this site: Farmer Boy

Head to Almanzo’s childhood home on Google Earth

Almanzo was born on this farm in 1857, and Laura shares his childhood story beautifully in her book Farmer Boy. His family lived here for nearly two decades, until crop failures forced them to move west to Minnesota.

Almanzo’s original home still stands, and has been restored as much as possible to the time period in which the book was written.

Tour Almanzo’s farm:

(If reading in a reader, click here for the video.)

Learn more about Almanzo and his home:

Stop 6. Mansfield, Missouri

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Head to Rocky Ridge Farm on Google Earth

All the Little House books were written from this location!

Laura, Almanzo, and Rose moved here in 1894 looking for a fresh start in farming. They transformed the rocky land they purchased bit by bit and spent nearly 20 years building the white farmhouse that is now a museum honoring the family’s legacy.

Years ago Steve and I had the chance to visit Rocky Ridge Farm on a road trip before having children, and I loved seeing Pa’s fiddle and Laura’s kitchen and parlor.

littlehouse I’m standing at the site of the “Rock House,” which Rose built as a gift to her parents down the street from Rocky Ridge Farm. After living there a few years, they said it was “too fancy” for them and that they were homesick for the farm–so they moved back down the street!

Tour the Little House on Rocky Ridge Farm:

(If reading in a reader, click here for the video.)

Learn more about Rocky Ridge farm:

I hope you enjoyed this field trip out west with Laura and me–a special thanks to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frontier Girl for all of the wonderful video clips!

“It has been years since I beat eggs with a fork or cleaned a kerosene lamp. Many things have changed since then, but the truths we learned from our parents and the principles they taught us are always true. They can never change.”
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, reflecting on her famous series

Originally posted on Jan 22, 2014. Reposting this year in honor of Laura’s NEW book out and her 148th birthday on Feb 7th! Be sure to check out the Google Doodle made in her honor.

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. How exciting!!! My eight year is daughter and I took that trip last summer. The Caddie Woodlawn House is about 45 min from Pepin if you are Caddie Woodlawn fans. And the Betsy-Tacy houses are in Mankato, Mn, on the way to Plum Creek from Pepin. I highly recommend an overnight stay in a covered wagon at the Ingalls Homestead in South Dakota.

  2. Thank you so much! We’re reading this series aloud now and just watched the Disney miniseries on DVD on Monday. This will be perfect!
    Shelly’s latest post: Lessons from an 8-Month-Old

  3. Thanks for putting this together! We finished the series as a family read aloud, and this will be fun for the kids to explore.
    I have to say, finishing that series was a bit of a let-down, and I haven’t been able to figure out what to read aloud next. We’ve been reading our history, but I need another great read-aloud!
    I love the quote above from Laura Ingalls Wilder; so inspiring!!!

  4. I’m so, so thrilled for you! If you haven’t yet, be sure to read Wendy McClure’s THE WILDER LIFE. It’s about her visits to Laura’s homes. xoxo
    Caroline Starr Rose’s latest post: Things Are Winding Down Here

    • Sziasztok,a speculoos receptjébÅ‘l úgy tűnik, hogy eléggé hasonlíthat az Ikeában kapható svéd fűszeres sütihez a pepparkakor-hoz. Esetleg azzal kipróbálható ez a naggggyyyon szimpatikus recept!

  5. Just wanted to say Thank you and I am excited to visit the Ingalls family homestead with you. I also have read the books dozens of times and have them all waiting for my girls when they begin to read. I always put myself in Laura’s place and wanted to be in the book with her. Can’t wait to show these posts to my girls. Hopefully they will love it as much as we do. Thanks again!!!

  6. Thank you for this! We are actually using Prairie Primer as our spine for study next year and I am starting to gather all of our resources. We actually live within a couple of hours of both Independence and Mansfield, so those are definitely on our list of field trips for next year.
    Nicole @ Journey to Excellence’s latest post: The ABC’s (and D’s and E’s) of Our Homeschool Success ~ “C”lipboards {Homeschool Essentials Blog Hop}

  7. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this!! I have just started reading the Little House series to my seven-year-old for the first time, and it’s the first time I’ve read them too! He LOVES them! I grew up watching the show, and I always LOVED that. We just started reading Farmer Boy, which I know he’ll especially love since it’s about a little boy. I am also reading the books ahead of him, and I just started reading Little House on the Prairie. I just love them. I’m going to bookmark this page so that we can watch all the videos when we finish the series. Thank you very much for all the work in putting this together!
    shelli : mamaofletters’s latest post: Introducing… home / school / life magazine

  8. Your road trip sounds fantastic! I can’t wait to hear about it when you go. Thanks for these great resources, Jamie.
    Nicole @ Gidget Goes Home’s latest post: Over at One Fun Mom: Redeeming TV events for community

  9. This is so inspiring! My daughter Molly loves the Little House books – I have been trying to keep up with her (I love them, too!) but she’s left me in the dust. I can see us doing this same trip someday, but for now we will use this virtual trip. Thank you, Jamie!

  10. WOW! I hope to some day get there! In the meantime, we enjoyed a Little House birthday party! I did a bit of a blog series on it. You can see one at http://www.thissimplehome.com/2012/10/little-house-party-activities.html

  11. Every time we have a big snow here in NY I think of how in heavens name people like the Ingals managed without oil or gas heat, in that bitter cold with non stop snow. She made it all seem so exciting.

  12. We are listening to Little House on the Prairie right now. We always start the new year with the next installment in the Little House series.

    What a great road trip.

    Are you sure we can’t all fit in the minivan??!!
    sheila’s latest post: What’s Cookin’? Winter 2014 Edition

  13. I would love to take this trip with my daughters one day! There is a Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in Burr Oak , Iowa also where they lived for a short while, I believe, and helped run a hotel, but I don’t think it was ever mentioned in the books.

      • I was hoping to see someone post about this!

        Burr Oak is the only site that Laura Ingalls Wilder was NOT allowed to write about. The publisher did not like it that Pa was not successful running a carriage stop/hotel. The family was behind on rent and other bills, plus Pa wanted to move west, so the family packed up and left town in the middle of the night. Not a scenario that fit into the “onward and upward” theme set by her other books, and no dramatic but positive ending like “The Long Winter.”

        Definitely worth the visit, but be prepared that this site is more realistic about the Ingalls family compared to other sites.

  14. When my family moved from Michigan to Washington State, I insisted that we stop at Walnut Grove and De Smet. Wading in Plum Creek and walking barefoot on the prairie are some of my very favorite memories! De Smet is a charming, tiny town and I think about it often. The trees Pa planted on his homestead are still standing! Wow! One thing to keep in mind about De Smet in summer. It’s easily 110 degrees. Take lots and lots and lots of water and remind yourselves often how fortunate you are not to wear layers of petticoats and woolen undergarments!!!

    Have a fun and blessed trip!!

  15. Thank you for all these links! My 9 year old son is reading Farmer Boy. He was getting tired of the book and this made the book interesting for him. Now that he could see that Almonzo was a real person. It was fun to look at the maps and watch the videos.
    Thanks again.

  16. This is so cool Jamie! I hope you and your family enjoy your time in Minnesota. It has been many years since I visited Walnut Grove, but I do remember loving it. Reading Laura’s books, and then being able to see a piece of it, is simply magical. I’m glad for you and your family 🙂

  17. We went to Pepin this fall and then reread The Little House in the Big Woods and it was wonderful to have the perspective. I’m so excited for you and your family to be taking the whole trip! Enjoy.

  18. Wow! Thank you! I wanted to find all these resources and put them together for my children but I never took the time to do it. They are going to be thrilled! Its on my list, too, to go to all the sites, but this is great! have fun when you go!!!!

  19. How neat! I read the whole series aloud to my son last year when he was a first grader. We’d love to make this trip one day, and we’ll happily live vicariously this summer! Thank you for creating this lovely post – it’s just wonderful.

  20. Thanks for putting this together! I’m reading the books with my son. We’re almost finished with By the Shores of Silver Lake right now. We watched this together and both enjoyed it! He wants to get to see all these places in person and this was the next best thing!

  21. Thank you so much for putting this together. We are doing the Prairie Primer this year and this will be a wonderful resource to share with my little girl!
    Katie’s latest post: Holiday Fun

  22. How exciting!!! I just starting reading Little House in the Big Woods to my 5 yo a couple of a days ago. I love these books and would love to make the trip someday. Enjoy and thanks so much for virtual tour 🙂

  23. I love the Little House series. I read it growing up and my girls have read it multiple times. Last summer we spent a couple days in DeSmet, SD, and stayed on the homestead – in a covered wagon. This year we plan to visit all the other sites in the Midwest. Unfortunately Almanzo’s home will have to wait for another year or two.

    If you want to see a few images from our trip last year – http://familyrambling.com/laura-ingalls-wilder-desme/usa/

  24. We made a Little House trip when my daughter was 11. She didn’t love the show, books and spirit of the pioneers as much as myself but we had a great time. Went to Burr Oak, Iowa then Pepin, then Walnut Grove, then DeSmet. I had so much fun planning everything from the museum visits, to staying at some really neat places (In DeSmet we stayed one night at the renovated house the Mayor lived at in Laura’s books…only 3 houses down from the Ingalls’ home) to my favorite part of staying in a covered wagon on the Ingalls’ Homestead in DeSmet. I want to visit Missouri and Kansas some day and go back to all the places we already visited. There were some other great places we visited along the way including Larkin Toy Factory and National Eagle Center just across the Mississippi in Minnesota to Spirit lake in DeSmet. I have hundreds of pictures to help keep the memories alive!

  25. This is one of my absolute dream trips to make once our kids are older! Living vicariously through your post.

  26. Thank you for sharing these videos. I loved reading the series to my kids when they were little. We went through them more than once.

    I especially enjoyed the music. Is it possible to provide the name of the album(s) you got them from? Thanks!

  27. I worked in administration at a summer camp up near Malone and on a day off I took my kids to the Wilder farm. It was so incredibly fun! The book describes everything so perfectly that it really feels like you’re in the book when you’re walking around. My oldest son had a little trouble letting the tour guide finish her thoughts though because he loved talking about the book so much and couldn’t help himself from sharing his thoughts with the crowd. Ha!
    Your trip sounds awesome, I’m sure you will all love it.

  28. So awesome! Thank you so much for sharing! I’m going to show the videos to my daughter tomorrow. We are re-reading the Little House books now, and she is starting to watch the show. She loves Laura! She will love this so much!

  29. Actually had me tearing up reading this! Thank you so much for this! Little house is still one of my family favorites that we share with our children today!

  30. Thank you !!!!! I have bookmarked this to come back to when I have more time, but I can’t wait!

  31. LOVE this! Thank you SO MUCH!
    wanderingeducators’s latest post: International Flavors: Greek Gyros Meatloaf

  32. Skye Ware says:

    Than you for sharing your trip. This is one of the ones we want to take with our kids, along with Tombstone, AZ, Civil War and Colonial America tours.

  33. That is awesome! Thank you so much for putting this together..I’m excited to follow along! 🙂

  34. Jamie we went to Malone the summer before last. Such a sweet trip! I did a blog post- while you cannot take pictures of the inside of the buildings, you can take pictures of the grounds outside. It’s just like you imagine from the books- including Malone!

  35. Wilma Snyder says:

    We visited most of these sites over the years. It is wonderful to see how many of them continue to be developed. Laura Ingalls Wilder is timeless!

  36. This is great! I’m getting ready to start reading the series with my 6 year old after Lent. (We are reading Amon’s Adventure until then). She always wants to know if things are real or if they really happened in the world etc. so it will be really cool to show her some of this as we work our way through the series. Thanks for sharing!

  37. Thanks so much for this resource! About to start The Prairie Primer and this will go along wonderfully.

  38. THANK YOU for sharing this!!! We are in the middle of reading thru the Little House series, & we are all loving it!

  39. We live in Kansas. We love the Independence site. One day a year in the summer they have all kinds of activities going on. Rope making, basket weaving, actors, etc. It’s SUPER fun!

  40. I found your blog through Sarah and her read aloud podcasts, which I recently stumbled upon. I had to come and leave you a message, as we too love Laura Ingalls. I happen to live pretty close to go to Walnut Grove and Pepin. We have been to Pepin a few times. Actually, fall of 2014, I took all three of my kids back down there (my kids are 27, 17, and 8. My oldest shares her name with Laura Ingalls as well. I didn’t realize when I chose her middle name that was L. Ingalls middle name as well.) Once about 10 yrs ago, we drove out to Walnut Grove over night to go to their outdoor play during the summer. It was really cool. I really, really want to go to Mansfield. It’s been on my list for a long time. We did visit Burr Oak, IA, seeing the Laura Ingalls site there too.

    • I forgot to mention, the third weekend in September is Laura Ingalls Days down in Pepin. They have all kinds of things going on in town, then have buses that will drive you out to the cabin.

  41. Just watched all the virtual tours with my kindergartner- he LOVED them! We have read through The Long Winter so far. He kept looking for a little crab to appear during the Plum Creek tour. Now he is all set to go visit!

  42. Vondt! Jeg har også vært der du er nå, men det var ingen brev igjen. Bare mange spørsmål.Sjokket er så stort at trøst hjelper ikke, drikk for din venn i kveld. Men ikke hver kveld heretter.

  43. A truly grand adventure!
    Laura Ingalls Gunn’s latest post: What’s Brightening My Day Vol. 4

  44. Lukas Zarcone says:

    We are reading the Little House on the Prairie book and I am LOVING IT!!!

  45. We live by Walnut Grove and our kids have grown up around (and in) Plum Creek. 🙂 My hubby and kids have acted in the Wilder Pageant for 15 years now. It’s a huge commitment of our summer every year but a really incredible thing to be a part of. They perform in front of thousands of people who come from all around the world. It takes place at dusk during weekend nights in July, and it’s a pretty big show. There’s real fire for the fire scene, horses and wagons, dancing, building the church, the grasshopper plague (actually oyster crackers that are shot up into the sky from behind the dugout, LOL) and so on. If you visit our area in July I recommend it. There is also a free family day in the park every Saturday during pageant season and there are kids’ crafts, foods for sale, games and more. Some years we have cast members from the show here, too. Nellie comes often and she’s great fun as a speaker. 🙂

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