Lesson 1: Introducing the Story


Activity 1: The Author

Materials: Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, timeline, U.S. map
Tell your child that today he will begin reading a book about pioneer life. This book is about a family who lives in Wisconsin, and it is based on the life of a real person who was born in the late 1800s. Explain that the girl's name was Laura Ingalls and that the story is about her life with her family as a young girl. Review the definition of a historical fiction book — a book where some characters or events are fictional, but the setting and other details are based on actual history. Also ask your child to add the date when the story begins (1871) to her timeline.

If you are using the full-year package, you received an 8-10 history timeline. On the timeline, ask your child to record the birth of Laura Ingalls (Wilder) in 1867. Explain to your child when she lived and show him where she lived on a U.S. map (Wisconsin). Tell him about her family members (an older sister Mary and a younger sister Carrie) and how she wrote these books so that children would know more about pioneer life. Let your child look at the cover and point out clues that indicate that the book took place many years ago.

Note: To make this introduction even more interesting for your child, dress up as a pioneer woman and pretend to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. Introduce yourself and tell about your family and your life as a pioneer.

You and your child can learn more about Laura Ingalls Wilder's life at the following websites:
Web Link
Web Link

Activity 2: A Memory

Materials: blank paper, colored pencils or markers
Discuss how the story is based on the author's memory of her childhood in the woods of Wisconsin. Tell your child that often authors write stories about events that happened in their lives. Sometimes, the easiest thing to write about is your own experience. Ask your child to think about one of his earliest memories. It can be a cheerful memory, a fearful memory, or a depressing memory. Then let him write an account of a memory that he thinks might make a good story. Finally, on a separate piece of paper, he can illustrate the memory.

Select one of the following options for your child.

Option 1

For this option, give your child the pre-writing organizer, "A Memory" (Option 1). This page will help him think about the details related to the memory he will write about.
Student Activity Page

Option 2 (Advanced)

If your child is an advanced writer, he can write about his memory without using the graphic organizer provided for Option 1. He can record his ideas and begin writing.

Activity 3: Setting: Wisconsin

Ask your child to define the word setting. Review that the setting of a story is the time and place where a story happens. Tell your child that the setting of this story is the woods in Wisconsin. Locate pictures of and read about Wisconsin online or in reference books. Discuss the state's environment focusing on the vegetation, animals, and temperature of the state. As your child reads about Wisconsin, he can record examples of plants and animals that can be found in the state on the page "Setting: Wisconsin" page.

After your child has read about Wisconsin and recorded the names of some plants and animals on the chart, ask him if he would want to live in Wisconsin. Ask him how Wisconsin is similar to and different from the state in which he lives.
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link
Student Activity Page