Unit Study for The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

This post is part of the 31 MORE Days of Literature Unit Studies series. You can find all of the links to the thirty-one studies in this post. If you’d like to use these ideas to create your own unit study, this post has step-by-step instructions as well as a free unit study planner. (Want to know more about what, exactly, a unit study is? This post will help.)

While you’re reading and working on your unit study, you can download this free printables pack of graphic organizers for reading. It has a plot chart, venn diagram, KWL chart, two mini book report organizers, a character analysis chart, a plot outline chart, and a reading response sheet where students can record facts while reading.

Unit study for The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

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The Little House is a Caldecott award winning book. It’s a sweet story about how changes come and go, but some things will remain. The illustrations are very well done, and the house looks as if she has a very expressive face throughout the story. Although it will appeal to young kids, there are some heavier topics that you could discuss with older kids, such as the Industrial Revolution.

Book Information

TitleThe Little House

Author- Virginia Lee Burton

Recommended ages- PreK-Primary- but you could discuss it in more depth with older kids

Synopsis- A little house is built, sturdy and strong- out in the country. This little house loves watching the days and seasons pass as the fields, trees, and meadows are all around. She sometimes wonders what life would be like in the city, but she’s very content.

Over time, the area around the little house is built up. Apartments are built all around. Roads come and then trolleys and subway trains. The little house is neglected and sad.

And then, one day, the great-great-granddaughter of the house’s original builders comes along. When she realizes that this is the same little house that has long been in her family. She has the house moved out into the country where it fits beautifully and is much happier.

Language Arts

Personification- The author of The Little House uses personification in talking about the little house. The house thinks and has feelings. Read this definition of personification (adapt for younger kids). Older kids can think of their own examples of personification.

Creative writing– If you were the little house, would you have liked living in the country or in the city?

Compare/contrast– Use the Venn Diagram printable from the free printables pack above to compare the little house’s life in the city with that of her life in the country? What did she see? What did she hear? What surrounded her?

Creative writing- If your house could talk, how would it describe where it is? Have kids write (or draw, for younger kids) a description.

Vocabulary– Choose ten words that are unfamiliar to your children from the story. Choose words that are appropriate for the age of your children. Print these house patterns on card stock and write a word on each with the definition on the back. Even younger children can look at the words and talk about what letters are in them or look for spelling patterns.


Seasons- The little house sits in the country and then in the city and watches the seasons change. This song video shows kids some things about each season.

Seasons- Find some fun facts about seasons at Easy Science for Kids.

Seasons– The Sheppard Software site has some fun online games where kids can learn about each season.

Phases of the moon- The little house watches as the moon changes throughout the month. Ducksters has some information about the different phases of the moon for kids.

Phases of the moon- This video has more information about the phases of the moon.

Phases of the moon- This fun- and yummy- activity lets kids make the phases of the moon out of Oreo cookies.

History/Social Studies

Development of cars- The little house notices some changes in how people get around as she watches the area around herself. When were cars made? What did the first cars look like? This article has lots of information. You can summarize for younger kids. There are some cool pictures of cars as they developed.

Industrial Revolution- The little house lives through many changes as transportation evolves and the city is built up around her. You can read about the Industrial Revolution here and explain it to the kids as their ages allow. There are also some kids’ books about the Industrial Revolution in the booklist below.

City vs. countryThis video is a good comparison of life in the city and life in the country.

Crafts and Fun

If your town has a historical society, learn about it and visit a home that is on the historic register.

Make a paper house. This site has 19 different house templates to choose from. Print the template of your child’s choice on card stock.

Alternately, you could print this blank house template and let your child decorate it.

DLTK has some great ideas for painting the phases of the moon.

The little house watches the seasons change. This is a beautiful craft that allows kids to design a tree that depicts all four seasons.

The Little House unit study


The Industrial Revolution for Kids: The People and Technology That Changed the World, with 21 Activities (Industrial Revolution)

An Illustrated Timeline of Inventions and Inventors (Industrial Revolution)

The Moon Book (Phases of the moon)
Home (Cities)

Wake Up, City! (Cities)

More books by Virginia Lee Burton

Other Resources

Homeschool Share has a free lapbook for The Little House.

There is a great sequencing activity for The Little House on Teachers Pay Teachers. It isn’t free but is only $1.

This is a great little Walt Disney short film based on the story.

If you enjoy sewing- and I don’t- this is an adorable cloth dollhouse made to look like the little house in the story.

Don’t miss the other literature units in this series!

Literature unit studies for kids

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