Chapter 2: Winter Days and Winter Nights

Teacher's Guide Chapter Author: Tina Russell, 5th grade teacher, Roger D. Gehring Elementary School, Clark County School District

Chapter Overview: It is winter time in the Big Woods. The Ingall's family must adapt their lives to the change in the weather.

Chapter Themes: Rural family life in the 1870's; Survival; Snow (height, temperature, frost): Animal trapping in winter; Daily chores; Beds (trundle); Making butter; Making items aesthetically pleasing (e.g., yellow butter, molded butter, dolls dresses); Music of the 1870s

Chapter Activities
  • Language Arts
    • Compare/Contrast
      • Students will pick a graphic organizer to compare and contrast their lives with the lives of the Ingalls.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)2.12 select and apply pre-reading, during, and post-reading strategies to enhance comprehension [NS 2.5.1]
        • (5)2.12 clarify understanding of text [NS/PS 2.5.4]
        • (5)2.9 select and use a variety of skills and strategies during reading to aid comprehension
          [NS/PS 2.5.3]
        • (5)2.12 clarify understanding of text [NS/PS 2.5.4]
    • Journal
      • Students will put themselves in the life of one of the characters and write a journal entry for what a typical day in the life of the character would be.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)2.4 determine importance in stories
        • (5)2.7 retell the main idea of text (synthesize)
        • (5)2.9 select and use a variety of skills and strategies during reading to aid comprehension [NS/PS 2.5.3]
        • (5)2.12 clarify understanding of text [NS/PS 2.5.4]
        • (5)3.3 identify historical events and cultural contexts as portrayed in literature [NS 3.5.3]
        • (5)5.5 write responses to literary selections by supporting ideas with selected examples
          [NS/PS 5.5.4]
  • Mathematics
    • Scheduling
      • The Ingall's lives were busy and they had many chores to do throughout the day. Try to write a daily or weekly schedule for a member of the family. Now write a schedule for the corresponding member of your family. How different are they?
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)1.11 read and write numbers, number words, and ordinals
        • (5)1.24 use estimation and mental computation in appropriate situations to solve problems
    • Time Travel
      • Calculate the time it would take people to travel certain distances then versus today. Use the following travel times
        • by horse/10 miles an hour
        • on foot 16 miles daily
        • bike 62 miles daily
        • car 540 miles daily
      • Standards Addressed
          • (5)1.18 multiply and divide decimals by whole numbers in problems representing practical situations [NS/PS 1.5.7]
          • (5)1.19 generate and solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems using whole numbers and decimals in practical situations [NS/PS 1.5.8]
          • (5)1.20 describe and use properties and relationships of the operations addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
          • (5)1.22 use basic facts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with speed and accuracy in computation and problem solving
          • (5)1.23 describe and use algorithms for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
  • Social Studies
    • The United States
      • Students will create a map of the United States in the 1870's. Label the states and compare the map to the United States today.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)3.3 read and derive geographic information from photographs, maps, graphs, and computer resources [NS 1.5.3]
        • (5)3.4 construct maps, charts, tables, and graphs to display information about human and physical features in the United States [NS 1.5.4]
        • (5)3.5 identify the purpose and content of various U.S. maps [NS 1.5.5]

    • Wants/Needs/Resources
      • Students will discriminate between wants and needs identified in the text. What resources did the family use to obtain what they needed or wanted. Categorize the resources as natural, human, capital.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)2.17 identify the resources needed for production in households, schools, and community groups [NS 6.5.1]
        • (5)2.18 demonstrate an understanding that an individual can be both a consumer and a producer [NS 6.5.2]
        • (5)2.20 recognize the three types of productive resources: natural (e.g., minerals), human (e.g.,
          educated workers), and capital (e.g., machinery) [NS 6.5.3]
  • Science
    • Butter Making
      • How do you change a liquid to a solid? Students will replicate butter making in the book with cream and a jar.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)1.1 use evidence recorded in a science notebook to develop descriptions, models, explanations, and predictions [N5A1]
        • (5)1.3 replicate investigations conducted by others and compare results [N5A2; N5B3]
        • (5)2.1 investigate and describe how energy can be used to bring about changes in matter [P5A1; P5A2]
        • (5)2.3 investigate and describe that by combining two or more materials, the properties of the resulting material can be different from the original materials (vinegar and baking soda, drink mix, salt and water) [P5A4]
    • Animal Study
      • The book mentions wolves, black bears, muskrats, mink, foxes, and panthers. Investigate an animal from the book and see if it is still found in Wisconsin today.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)4.11 explain how differences among individuals within a species give them advantages and/or disadvantages in surviving and reproducing [L5D3]
        • (5)4.6 investigate and describe the interrelationships and interdependence of organisms with each other and with the non-living parts of their habitats [L5C2]
        • (5)4.8 investigate and describe how organisms, including humans, can cause changes in their environments [L5C4; N5B2]
        • (5)4.10 investigate and describe how environmental changes allow some plants and animals to survive and reproduce, but others may die [L5C5; L5C3]
Historical Overview of Chapter Themes

This story takes place about 5 years after the Civil War. The United States had been experiencing expansion since the end of the American Revolution, and many families had moved west to settle new land and to start new lives. The town near the Ingall's place, Pepin, was first settled in the 1840's. The village sprang up about 10 years later. It was attractive to settlers because of the lake and woods. The lumber industry boomed there, and the lake provided mussels, clams, and fish. Like the Ingalls, most families living in rural areas in the 1870's farmed on a small scale. The whole family worked together to ensure the smooth running of the household. Survival was more important than ease and comfort. The work ethic was strong and work came before play. Families lived far apart and had to be self sufficient. They rarely saw their neighbors or families. When families and friends did get together, it often involved helping each other with farming and other important jobs. After the work, families would have social gatherings. The lives of people centered around work, family, religion, and survival.

Additional Resources


Sarah Nicol said...

I really like your idea about journaling. I think it is a great idea to have the students try and put themselves back in that time period. It gets them to make connections to how life is for them now, and how it could have been had they lived over 100 years ago. I also liked your idea of making butter. I have done this with my students and they were really into it. It shows how good some of them have it today.

When I taught fourth grade I had a "Pioneer Day" where my students did some of the activities you mentioned. We were pioneers all day long. My kids loved it. They got to pretend they were living in this time period and they even dressed up in period costume (We used chart paper and dish towels for some of it. We didn't get fancy:).
My students from last year still come up to me to talk about how much fun they had.

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

Tina - You offer some really innovative ideas! I really like the idea of a daily schedule and comparing it today's schedules. It might be nice to have students postulate why the schedules might be so different.

Sara - Would you be willing to post any of your lesson plans or information about how you managed your Pioneer Day experience?