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Literature Unit Ideas for Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Leah Courtney
This post is part of the 31 Days of Literature Unit Ideas series. You can find the entire series with links to all of the books here. And if you'd like to use this literature unit, you can find a FREE printable below with a suggested schedule.

Today's book is Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Although sometimes not as well-known as Little House on the Prairie, this is actually the first book in the series. Set in the woods of Wisconsin, this book was written about the life of Laura's family before they headed out to the prairies.

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About the book...

Although most people are at least familiar with the Little House on the Prairie books, not as many read the whole series that begins with Little House in the Big Woods. The Little House series is historical fiction written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Although the books are fiction, Laura writes about events and settings that are based on her own childhood growing up as a pioneer. Her family headed out the prairies when Laura was young, and the book series shares the joys and hardships that were a part of pioneer life.

In Little House in the Big Woods, it's in the late 1800s and Laura's family still lives in the woods in Wisconsin. With every chapter, we get a glimpse into the family life as well as the history of the times. The book doesn't follow a specific plot outline with a structured beginning, climax, and end; rather it's a coming of age story. The story of being a little girl at that particular time in history.

Just a note: If you haven't read any of the Little House books- the books are very, very descriptive. The descriptions are simple and easy to understand, but I have to admit that the first time I was going to read this one aloud, I had forgotten how wordy the description was, and I was reading to a five-year-old. I had to adapt the length of my description at times to allow for attention span.

Throughout your reading...

  • Keep a timeline of the events in Laura's life. You can print a blank timeline here.
  • Keep a notebook/journal of "fascinating facts" that you learn along the way- history, science, recipes: you can record them in this journal.

History connections:

Science connections:

Language arts connections...

  • Talk about the way that authors use different points of view as they tell as story. Why do you think Laura chose to use third-person point of view even though she is talking about herself.
  • Laura uses lots of description in all of her writing. Choose a scene from the book. Listen to the scene read aloud. As you read, record what she describes for each of the five senses. Is there a sound she describes? A smell? A taste? The feeling of something? Things that she is seeing?
  • Creative writing: Imagine that you lived in Laura's time and setting. Come up with an imagined story of an adventure that happened to you.
  • Use a Venn diagram to compare the way Laura lived with the way you live. You can find a free printable Venn diagram here.


Other resources...


If you'd like to use this book as a literature unit, you can find a FREE printable, suggested schedule here.

Leah Courtney / Author & Editor

Leah Courtney is a homeschooling mom of four. She’s graduated two teens- one who’s a legal adult now! And she’s still homeschooling two middle schoolers. She loves all things book related, and in her- very rare- free time you can find her listening to audiobooks and coloring.


  1. YOu've given loads of good ideas to make the study of this book so much more. Very neat to see them. :)

  2. What a fantastic unit you have put together here. I'm definitely keeping hold of this post for the next time we tackle the Laura books. They are a favorite in our house and we have an audio book that we are about to start. Thanks for the list and the great timing.


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