Lesson 2: Little House in the Big Woods


Activity 1: Life in the Woods vs. Life Today

As your child reads each chapter, she will record one way that life in the woods was different than life is today on the sheets, "Life in the Big Woods vs. Life Today." Her responses will be based on what she learns about life in the woods in each chapter. Provide her with the chart daily as she reads through the chapters.

Activity 2: Vocabulary for Chapters 1-7

Materials: Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, dictionary, scissors
Let your child cut out the vocabulary word cards located on the first page of "Vocabulary for Chapters 1-7." The words are found in the first seven chapters of the book. Encourage your child to sort them in alphabetical order. Then ask her to circle any prefixes or suffixes and to underline root words. Ask her if she knows the meaning of any of the prefixes or suffixes. Explain that a prefix is a group of letters placed at the beginning of a word, and a suffix is a group of letters placed at the end of a word. Prefixes and suffixes affect the meaning of the word. Although prefixes and suffixes have meaning, they cannot stand alone and must be added to a base word. The vocabulary list for these chapters has suffixes and no prefixes.
  • -ly (describes how something is done — lovingly)
  • -ing (describes actions that are happening in the moment — cooking)
  • -ed (describes actions that happened in the past — stepped)
  • -s (more than one — ships)
Encourage your child to read the following words in context on the pages provided, locate the correct definition of each word in a dictionary, and record it on the back of each vocabulary card. Next, encourage her to underline the suffixes of any words that have them. Then she can complete the story by filling in the missing vocabulary words on the second page of "Vocabulary for Chapters 1-7."

Here are the vocabulary words in alphabetical order: brindle, catechism, eaves, mending, pity, scalded, solemnly, temptingly.

Answer Key:

Ma took the cake out of the oven. The icing glistened temptingly on the counter next to it. I knew the cake was still hot, and if I took a taste it would have scalded my tongue. It was a pity that I could not just "dig in." Ma looked at me solemnly, for she knew what I wanted to do. I remembered what Pa read to me from the catechism, so I did not dare steal a bite of cake or icing. Ma went to her rocking chair and began mending the clothes. I went over to look out the window, staring at a spider in the eaves. All of a sudden I heard a noise, turned around, and saw the brindle bulldog eating the cake! Sometimes I think it would be nice to be a dog.

Activity 3: Natural Resources and Survival

Materials: Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Discuss how the pioneers had to find almost everything they needed in nature. For this activity, your child will use the "Natural Resources and Survival" sheet to describe how Laura's family used natural resources to meet its needs. Select one of the following options for your child to complete.

Option 1

For this option, the resources discussed in the chapter are listed, and your child can record how they were used.

Answer Key:

  • deer: the family ate the meat and used the hides to make leather
  • tree: trees were used to build their house, the hollow log was used to smoke the deer meat, and hickory chips were used for the fire that was used to smoke the meat
  • salt: salt was used to cure/preserve meat and fish
  • fish: fish was salted down and saved to eat during the winter
  • garden: vegetables were planted to feed the family

Option 2 (Advanced)

For this option, your child must find some natural resources mentioned in the chapter, list them on the "Natural Resources and Survival" (Option 2) page, and record how each one is used by Laura's family. Refer to the answer key for Option 1 for some possible answers. Other resources may include any of the animals that Pa sometimes hunted for food (bears, squirrels, rabbits) or the acorns, nuts, and roots used to feed the pig.