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Jamie C. Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool
We are currently inhaling all things Little House, in preparation for our upcoming site tour this summer. Every day we learn something new about Laura and the Ingalls family, and for this homeschooling mama it’s a dream come true.
In a few months our family will be visiting three Little House sites: Pepin, Wisconsin; Walnut Grove, Minnesota; and De Smet, South Dakota. If you want to take a sneak peek and visit them virtually–as well as all the other Little House sites, make sure you check out the virtual field trip I created earlier this year.
Right now we’re rereading all of the books–one each month–and creating our own unit study to go along with them. This has sent me on a search for the best books, sites, and resources to help us learn more, and I thought I’d share my discoveries with you.
If you’re looking to get the most out of Little House, here are the resources we’ve been using:
The Little House Guidebook
This book contains beautiful colored photographs from each of the Little House sites. Designed for those who plan to visit, it includes information about the history of the site, how to find it, and what to do at each spot.
Having read this title myself, I think anyone who loves the idea of touring these locations would enjoy it–whether or not you actually make the trip. Pair this with my virtual field trip and you’ll feel like you just stepped into the prairie.
The Prairie Primer
I first heard of this unit study curriculum years ago and loved the idea behind it. It’s a nine month unit study based on the Little House series. This year I bought a used copy.
The Prairie Primer includes ideas and potential assignments/projects that connect many different subjects to Little House–including science, writing, and history–basically everything but math and spelling/grammar.
My kids have enjoyed the discussion questions for each chapter, but we haven’t used the rest as much as I anticipated.
Like many unit studies, it suits a certain type of person/family well–one who enjoys preparing activities and pulling together different threads. The Primer comes from a conservative Christian perspective, so keep that in mind as you determine if it’s a good fit for you and yours.
My idea of a good unit study is to read books, then read more books, then discuss, then watch some YouTube clips, then bake something =), but I know many folks who rave about this resource.
We Love the Prairie Primer
This blog was created a few years ago by a mom who was following the Prairie Primer curriculum with her kids.
She embedded many YouTube clips that go along with the various chapters of the books – and we’ve enjoyed watching some of them. It’s saved me the work of finding appropriate clips myself–she also includes crafts and other ideas.
Little Passports USA edition
I’ve been raving this year about our Little Passports subscription–we’ve had fun learning about different countries around the world through these monthly packages delivered to our door. And when it comes to our upcoming Little House trip, our USA edition of Little Passports has been an excellent resource to add on.
Each month we receive a packet that highlights two different states–it just so happened that the first one featured Wisconsin–while we were reading Little House in the Big Woods! That gave us plenty of good direction for extra study as we learned about the state.
The Little House Cookbook
If you love both Little House and cooking/baking, this book is a must-have! We’ve had it since the first time we read the series a few years ago, but this year we have used it more than ever.
Not only does it have recipes for almost every dish mentioned by Laura, it also includes them in the style and manner that they most likely would have been prepared during her time. We’ve made butter, pumpkin pie, hasty pudding, and more, and have learned a lot along the way.
Who Was Laura Ingalls Wilder?
This book was just published at the end of 2013, and I bought a copy a few weeks ago. It’s a short overview of Laura’s life–with interesting text boxes that highlight historical information and facts that coincide with the time period in which she lived.
We read a few pages each day and it adds another dimension to our study of her life. As a side note, all three of my kids like the whole “Who Was” series–look for these titles at your library.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Country
I was on the fence about buying this book–did we really need another book about Laura’s life? The answer – yes!
This oversize paperback goes into detail about “the people and places in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life and books” and features gorgeous color photographs of the landscapes as well as photographs and momentos of the Ingalls/Wilder family through the years.
Think of it a bit like a Laura scrapbook–a must-have for serious Laura fans and students.
Little House on the Prairie: The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder
If you want to find out more about Laura’s development as a writer and the history behind the Little House series, make sure you check out this hour-long documentary about her life and work.
It introduces fascinating details about the working relationship with her daughter Rose, who at the time was a more famous writer than Laura. Plus it’s all filmed on location in the beautiful spots Laura called home throughout her life, and narrated by Dean Butler (who played Almanzo in the TV show)!
Little House Paper Dolls
I don’t know if I can genuinely consider paper dolls a part of our unit study, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to mention these. In Little House in the Big Woods, Laura describes how Ma made paper dolls for her and Mary to play with. We gave this set to Trishna (age 10) for Christmas and she loves them.
The dolls actually stand up and have different clothes, furniture, and a fold up indoor/outdoor cabin as a backdrop. Adorable!
And if you’re the crafty type, take a peek at the Little House Crafts Book for ideas to go along with your readings. (I can’t give a personal recommendation on this one, since I am decidedly not the crafty type–LOL!)
It’s impossible not to feel inspired in our homeschool these days. Our days are far from perfect, mind you, but I love what we’re studying so much–and enthusiasm is contagious.
I hope this list points other Little House fans in the direction of inspiration and love of learning as well–enjoy!
“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful.
They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness — just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breathe it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”
~ Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder – Volume One: On Wisdom and Virtues
Caroline Starr Rose
William Anderson also has a beautiful picture book biography called Pioneer Girl. I picked it up last time we were in Mansfield.
Please tell me you’re going to read The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure for yourself. You’ll love it!
Also, I’d like to be an honorary Martin when trip time comes. xo
Steve suggested you long ago! =) I keep meaning to check into The Wilder Life – will do!
This is great! We’re currently going through the Little House series- even my teenage son enjoys it! We loved making the snow candy before Christmas, and I never knew there was a book about the Little House paper dolls! My girls always make paper dolls, so I think they would love this book. Thanks for all the great resources.
Shelly’s latest post: Natural Learning Vs. Assigned Learning
do you need more than one subscription to the Little Passports if you have more than one child? i was just thinking of ways to start focusing on geography and someone sent me this link because we are also reading the Little House series in the car on disc. the kids love them and we are almost done. thanks. i can’t seem to see a clear answer to that on the website.
You can share the subscription, Jen, or order separate ones depending on what you prefer. We share ours between three kids, so you can make it work with a little creativity!
sarah @ little bus on the prairie
As we move onto our own little version of the prairie this unit would be very apt 🙂 thanks for putting this together!
Early in our homeschooling experience (the mid ’90s) we spent 2 weeks one fall visiting all of Laura’s home sites. It was a fabulous experience! We read aloud the whole series of books every winter for years. Enjoy this wonderful time with your family!
This is great – thank you! I never read any of the books growing up, but you inspired us to check one of the CDs out of the library and the kids listened to it non-stop until we had to return it. We now own the first 3 audio books and they will listen to nothing else. So we will look into these resources and see what’s applicable to my younger kids – I bet plenty will be easy to adapt. I would also love to know how to make a “Charlotte” doll. I wonder if that’s in the craft book you mentioned.
We are planing a trip to the Kansas Prairie this Spring. Hope ya’ll have a great time at all the other sites!
That’s so awesome, Meg! It’s good to know that Brits enjoy them, too! =) Hope you guys are well!
My daughter is currently reading this series and will love all these links and ideas although a site visit from NZ is a little unlikely we can still do a virtual trip.
We are currently reading the Little House series as well. Our homeschool co-op is doing a book club on the series and three of my girls are in it. We read one book every two weeks. It has been a lot as we are still doing our full Sonlight load but it is so worth it. They have made sugar snow, button lamps, twisted hay, used a grinder, Christmas cakes…the list goes on and on. They wear their homemade (by Grandma) prairie dresses, aprons and bonnets. We live in MN and visited Pepin last summer and plan to go to Walnut Grove early this summer. I am hoping we work in a trip to DeSmet too! Enjoy!
We are big fans of the ‘Little House’ series and have everything you’ve mentioned. This summer we will do a driving tour of a few of the Laura sites, as well- Pepin, WI, Walnut Grove, MN, Spring Valley, MN (where the Wilder Farm was), and Burr Oak, IA (where the family spent a year). As we head south later in the summer we will also visit the site of the house in Indian Territory and Laura’s home in Mansfield, MO.
We visited the DeSmet site last summer – where do you plan to stay? Are you renting a covered wagon? Read about our visit to DeSmet: http://familyrambling.com/laura-ingalls-wilder-desmet-south-dakota/hotels-and-lodging/
Thanks for the link to the helpful post, Jody!
I am just finishing up Little House in the Big Woods with my 5-year-old son. Some of these things might be a little beyond him at the moment, but I’m sure we’ll be re-reading the series down the road, so I’m definitely going to keep this in mind! Thanks! (And I’d love to do a tour of the Little House sites! My mom, grandma and I planned to do one years probably 15 years ago and it never happened…. someday!)
At what age do you feel a child can start the little house series and truly understand and grasps the concepts and ideals of Laura life?
Personally I’d say around age six, Pamela, though I know some who have read them earlier!
Jodi | Kitchen Table Classroom
I just ordered a used copy of the Prairie Primer but after reading your review I’m thinking I should have waited!! I’m with you on the books & more books.