Chapter 13: The Deer in the Wood

Teacher's Guide Chapter Author: Selena McDowell and Jaime Tschan, 3 grade teacher, Hal Smith School Elementary School, Clark County School District

Chapter Overview: Winter is approaching and Laura’s pa is setting out to hunt deer. The family hadn’t had any fresh meat since spring. Pa made a deer-lick and he sat in a tree over looking that deer-lick all night. Laura and her sister awoke the next morning expecting to see a deer hanging in the trees, but there was none. Pa explained to Laura that while many deer and other animals came to the deer-lick he could not bring himself to shoot any of them.

Chapter Themes: Family, hunting and survival

Chapter Activities

  • Language Arts
    • Activity Idea 1 The Great Debate
      • Description: Students will debate the issue of hunting and with the information they have about pioneer living decide if Pa made a good or bad decision not to kill the deer for the meat.
      • Standards Addressed
        • Standard 1 3.9.3 Present ideas and supporting details in a logical sequence with a beginning, middle, and ending.
        • Standard 2 3.10.1 Speak and listen attentively in conversations and group discussions
        • Standard 3 3.11.2 Use a variety of library resources, media and technology to find information on a topic
    • Activity Idea 2 Identity Crisis
      • Description: Students will write a composition that explains the character they are most like in the story and the reasons why
      • Standards Addressed
        • Standard 1 3.6.3 Write a simple composition that address a single topic and include topic sentences and supporting sentences.
        • Standard 2 3.6.6 Produce writing with voice for given audience
  • Mathematics
    • Activity Idea 1 Cabin Sketch
      • Description: Students will sketch their own cabin design and accurately determine the length and height of the walls by using a scale that they determine. For Example, one inch will be equal to 2 feet. They must determine if the length of their cabin is reasonable or unreasonable, especially for the time period.
      • Standards Addressed
        • Standard 1 3.3.1 Measure and record to a required degree of accuracy, evaluate for error, and identify the appropriateness of selected units of measure.
        • Standard 2 3.3.2 Estimate and use measuring devices with standard (English and metric) and nonstandard units to measure length, surface area, liquid volume, (capacity), temperature, and weight.
    • Activity Idea 2 Fraction Quilt
      • Description: In the story Laura and Mary sat making a patchwork quilt while their parents did various things. As an assignment students will use 4 x 4 squares to make their own fraction quits. Students will color portions of the squares to represent as fraction. Once colored students will attach the squares using yarn. Students should keep in mind that quilts often have a decorative pattern so they will need decide which fraction to make and how they will organize the fraction on the square so that a pattern will emerge with their squares are placed together
      • Standards Addressed
        • Standard 1 3.1.11 Model, sketch, and label fractions with denominators to ten
        • Standard 2 3.1.13 Make and write fractions represented by drawing a model
  • Social Studies
    • Activity Idea 1 Diorama
      • Description: Students will create a diorama that depicts what they believe the Ingalls’ cabin and farm land might look like.
      • Standards Addressed
        • Standard 1 3.3.40 construct simple maps and graphs to display geographic information
        • Standard 2 3.4.10 describe the lives of pioneers from diverse groups.
    • Activity Idea A Wisconsin Winter
      • Description: Students will use the Internet and other resources to identify the different ways Laura and her family survived winters in Wisconsin. They will identify how they would have kept themselves and their cabin warm.
      • Standards Addressed
        • Standard 1 3.3.27 Compare the wants and needs of people in different communities and the means used to satisfy those wants and needs.
        • Standard 2 3.3.31 Compare different ways in which people modify the physical environment.
  • Science
    • Activity Idea Seasons on the Plains
      • Description: Students will research Wisconsin paying particular attention to how the seasons affect this region.
      • Standards Addressed
        • Standard 1 3.3.11 Observe, record and describe seasonal differences using words, number and drawings.
        • Standard 2 3.5.7 Identify observable patterns and predict future events based on those patterns (e.g., seasonal weather patterns)
    • Activity Idea 2 Deer
    • Description: Pa sat in a tree all night to shoot a deer, but after watching several of them he decided against shooting any of them. The students will research deer to learn more about their habitats and characteristics.
      • Standards Addressed
        • Standard 1 3.2.5 Describe the ways plants and animals adapt totheir changing environments.
        • Standard 2 3.2.2 Investigate, compare, and contrast identifiable characteristics of plants and animals.
Historical Overview of Chapter Themes

Pioneer life was difficult and full of hard work. Those living in the 1800’s did not have the conveniences that we have today. The farmers had to be self-sufficent and most certainly had to plan their daily lives and always consider the future to ensure their survival.

One of the ways that families survived this time period was farming. Families that lived in rural areas often farmed the land. The farm was so crucial to their survival that children where often kept home from school to work on the farm. To even begin a farm was difficult work. Farmers who lived in and around the forest had to clear the land of trees and those that lived on the plains had to break up the hard ground before they could begin planting. Once a crop was planted the farmers now faced the task of finding ways to provide water to the crops.

Farmers had to also ensure that they had enough crops to not only feed their family, but to sell for profit as well. Farmers new to the plains often found that many of the crops they were able to grow back in the east did not fair well on the great plains.

Another threat to the survival of the farmer was the weather. Everything could be going well for a farmer only to be wiped out by a terrible storm or unusual weather patterns. Lightening could start fires, tornadoes or sandstorms could stress the crops causing them to die and long droughts would waste away the crops.

Survival was difficult but through proper planning, hard work and a healthy diet many families thrieved

Additional Resources


Dana Matthews said...

You have some really good ideas. The idea I liked the best was the fraction quilt. I like the integration of math and art, so for those anti-math students, they get to do something else. The activity that I worry about is the great debate over hunting. As a member of a hunting family, I often feel our lifestyle is misunderstood (i.e.: we don't hunt for fun, we hunt for food). If the children don't understand the reasons behind hunting, they might come to conclusions that aren't totally accurate. As a child, I would have probably gotten very upset about this activity because I would have had to defend my family. Other than that, I really enjoyed reading your blog and am definitely going to be making a fraction quilt in my classroom!

Christy G. Keeler, Ph.D. said...

I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Matthews that we need to be cognizant when teaching about hunting. For many, it is difficult to take an unbiased approach -- we tend to be completely for or completely against the practice.

It is important as a teacher to focus on the research piece of this activity. With older students, I might have them debate the issue - perhaps requiring they know the pros and cons of both sides. I do, however, believe that the way you've worded your lesson correctly. In fact, in researching deer habitats, students will learn that hunting has been used as a method for balancing ecosystems (especially after humans have introduced non-native species to a region).

Finally, I see many children living in urban areas that believe that their food comes from the supermarket and not fro other sources. I believe it is important to let them learn about the true origins of their food - particularly before making judgments about others.

Christy G. Keeler, Ph.D. said...

A correction to my last post...
I would have students debate the issue of hunting today. I think situating the debate historically is appropriate for intermediate-level learners.

When doing the patch-work quilt, consider also teaching about tessellations.

To make the math building activity more kinesthetic, have them use chalk to draw the dimensions of their cabin on the playground. You might also have them use poles and sheets or boxes to build a model house. Ideally, you could make this a family project and actually build a model of wood (though the beams would be flat instead of round). This might be a good project in a community where many of the children's parents are construction workers.