Chapter 16: Fire in the Chimney

Teacher's Guide Chapter Author: Christina Tonemah, 3rd grade, Fong Elementary School, Clark County School District

Chapter Overview: The weather was changing on the prairie. Pa was off hunting for food. The chimney had caught on fire and was threatening to destroy their home. In the face of danger, Laura found strength enough to pull Mary and Carrie away from the fire. After the fire, Laura cried and expressed her fears. However, when it meant the most she displayed only bravery.

Chapter Themes: responsibility, maturity, being prepared

Chapter Activities

  • Language Arts
    • Compare and Contast
      • Students will use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast families today and Laura's family. Students will identify specifics from the chapter and compare how we accomplish those same tasks today. For example: getting food and transportation.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (3) 6.4 Organize ideas using graphic organizers
        • Social Studies (3)4.4 describe experiences of people going west
    • Displaying Bravery
      • Laura displayed bravery during the fire in their cabin. Students will write about an event in which someone they know has displayed courage in the face of fear. They can write about themselves or someone they know.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (3) 5.5 write a response to literature based upon experience
        • (3) 5.4 write a narrative that moves through a logical sequence of events
  • Mathematics
    • How Far To Town
      • Students will work in pairs to figure out how many miles and days it takes, round trip to get from the house to town and back home again. Students will have to explain how they found their answer. (p. 200 'They must pull the wagon twenty miles a day to get to town in two days.')
      • Standards Addressed
        • (3) 1.9 use addition to model and explain multiplication as repeated addition
        • (3) 8.5 determine relevant information to solve mathematical problems
    • How far in an hour
      • Students will figure out approximately how many miles the wagon will travel in an hour with the given information. 'It takes two days to get to town and the wagon travels twenty miles each day'. Students will figure what other information is necessary and explain how they solved the problem.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (3) 1.32 use a variety of strategies to solve mathematical and real world problems
        • (3) 8.5 determine relevant information to solve mathematical problems

  • Social Studies
    • Laura Ingalls Wilder Biography
      • Students will find and record information about Laura Ingalls Wilder. They will be required to use at least two sources. Their information should include her birthdate and place, important events in her life (in sequence) and time and place of death.
      • Standards Addressed
        • Language Arts (3) 11.2 use a variety of resources to find information on a topic
        • Social Studies (3) 4.4 describe experiences of pioneers going west
    • Quilt
  • Students will work in groups of four to create a pioneer quilt. Each quilt will be made of 12 pieces. Students will be required to record one fact about pioneer daily life on each piece. Finally, all the pieces will be put together.
  • Standards Addressed
        • Social Studies (3) 4.4 describe experiences of pioneers going west
        • Language Arts (3) 4.2 distinguish between fact and opinion

  • Science
    • Animal Research
      • Students will be assigned an animal mentioned in chapter 16. Students will research the animal using the internet and at least two other sources. Students will have questions to answer to ensure they record specific information about the animal.
      • Standards Addressed
        • Language Arts (3) 11.2 use a variety of resources to find information on a topic
        • Science L.5.D Understand that living things can be classified according to physical characteristics, behaviors and habitats
    • Animal Description and Presentation
      • Students will use recorded research to write a three paragraph essay about their assigned animal. Students will include information describing where the animal lives, what they eat, describing what they look like and including interesting facts about the animal. Students will create a poster about the animal and present it to the class.
      • Standards Addressed
        • Science L.5.D Understand that living things can be classified according to physical characteristics, behaviors, and habitats
        • Language Arts (3)9.3 present ideas and supporting details in a logical sequence
Historical Overview of Chapter Themes
Daily life for pioneers was far more grueling than it is for us today. Everyone, including the children, were required to be responsible and get things done. They often would work from sun up to sun down. Tasks that we all take for granted were far more difficult for the pioneers. Getting food and transportation were far different for people during those times than it is for us today.

As mentioned in chapter 16, Pa had to take the horses and wagon to town. It would take him two days to get there and they would travel twenty miles each day. Today, some people drive further than that for work each day. A pioneer would truly have to prepare for a trip to town. Of course, weather would also be a factor.

Providing food for your family was a big part of pioneer life. They would gather, farm and hunt. However, if the animals were scarce or the crops grew bad that season, a family would be left without food. It wasn’t a matter of driving to the store to pick up something for dinner. Pioneers had to be prepared and plan for at least a season.

Additional Resources


Rebecca said...

I like the idea of having students write about someone/themselves being brave. I think this really can help them make a self to text connection. When students are able to do this they become more invested in the story they are reading. This connection also helps with their comprehension because they are able to relate the story to something they know and understand. Thanks!

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

When having students write about courage and bravery, this might be a good time to re-visit the suffrage and civil rights movements.

I love the idea of quilting and actually working with textiles in the classroom. Be sure to bring the sewing machine (if you're not connecting by hand) into the classroom - many students have probably never seen a sewing machine in action. Also, there are certainly videos on the history, symbolism, and meaning of quilt patterns. The videos may serve as a good starting point for the lesson.

Could students write their animal essay in the form of a foldable? They could still be required to write the same amount, but this way they might be more motivated by the end product.

Great ideas, Ms. Tonemah!