Chapter 25: Soldiers

Teacher's Guide Chapter Author: Shauna Tamar Harris, 5th Grade Teacher, Hayes ES #542 Clark County School District__________________________________________________________________

Chapter Overview: This chapter deals with the planting of the garden and the coming of the soldiers to forcibly remove the settlers from the land in which they have built their frontier homes.

Chapter Themes: Change: change of eating - the new garden promises more than just bread and meat to eat, Change of scenery - the black land now has turned green as far as the eye can see, and change of mind - the government has now changed their minds about the northern territory of where it is safe for settlers to settle.

  • Chapter Activities:
    Language Arts
    Activity 1: Feelings
    Choose a character from the chapter. Describe how that character felt at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the chapter. Give examples from the chapter to show why he or she felt this way. Record the page numbers where you found the examples.

Standards Addressed:
ELA 4.5.4: Draw conclusions and make inferences supported by textual evidence
ELA 5.5.4 Write responses to literature that support judgements with text examples

Activity 2: Dear Diary
Pretend you are Laura and you have just finished working in the garden when you overhear the heated argument between Pa and Mr. Scott and Mr. Edwards. What could you tell your diary that you couldn't tell anyone else? Do you want to stay and eat the growing goodness from the garden, or do you want to leave the growing threat of the soldiers? Use examples from the chapter to support your thoughts.

Standards Addressed:
ELA 6.5.3 Write paragraphs or essays with main ideas, supporting details, and a conclusion
ELA 5.5.6 Write short essays; speculate on cause/effect and offer persuasive evidence.

Activity 1: A Whole Year Gone
A year is 365 days long, 366 during leap year. Sun-up is when most people began chores. Chores were 7 days a week, no vacations. Take a piece of paper and fold it in half. On one side label the half-hours starting at 6 am to 7 pm. Fill in all the hours with a chore. For example, at 7 am - feed the chickens, and gather eggs; 7:30 am feed livestock. When you are done, add up at the time a person spent on chores, then multiply it by the total number of days in a year. With a partner, discuss the total time spent doing something on a farm. Was Pa right when he said, "What's a year amount to?" For a challenge, find out how many minutes one spent in a year just feeding the chickens or milking the cow.

Standards addressed:
MA 3.5.6 Determine equivalent periods of time, including relationships between and among seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years.
MA 1.5.8 Generate and solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems using whole numbers and decimals in practical situations.


Activity 2: Indian Territory is HOW big?

Have the students look at maps of the time period - most can be found online or in their social studies books, and using the legend, determine the rough size of Indian Territory where the Ingalls' had settled. For more challenge, have students calculate the square miles and or acres.

Standards Addressed:


MA 5.3.5 describe and determine the perimeter and area of polygons

MA 5.3.6 describe the difference between perimeter and area, including the diefference in units of measure

Social Studies
Activity 1: What Happens on a Farm?
Have the students form groups and give each one some computer time. Have them research the types of chores one did on a farm during Laura Ingalls' time period. Create a list of things they found on the Internet versus the things that are talked about in the chapter using the computer program Inspiration.

Standards Addressed:
Technology 5.3.2 generate keywords for a research topic or problem and conduct a search of electronic based sources
Technology 5.3.4 identify and examine organizational formats using a technology tool to arrange information; use an organizational format to arrange gathered information in a presentation or demonstrate decision-making.

Activity 2: Come and Get It! Chow on the Prairie

Group students in small groups and direct them to the following website:

Have the students study the objects that prairie families used to prepare food. Have them write a paragraph or two about how they are similar to and different from items we use today.

Standards Addressed:

Social Studies 5.4.24 identify major advancements in science and technology, including: television, computers


Activity 1: Home, Home on the Plain

Group student into small groups. Have each group decide on an animal that is native to the prairie - bison, prairie dogs, ect. and they will do some research on their chosen animal. They will make a poster introducing their animal to the class - what type of food it ate, where it grazed, the habitat in which it lived. Have them draw a picture of the animal, and check out it's endangered species designation (if it has one). If not enough animals are available for groups, they can chose other organisims that live on the prairie. A good website to find information is:


Standards Addressed:


SCI (Life Science) 5.4.5 explain that living things get what they need to survive from their environments

SCI (Life Science) 5.4.7 investigate and describe how some environmental conditions are more favorable that others to living things

Activity 2: The American Prairie

Have students brainstorm a list of of the basic environmental conditions of a prairie ecosystem. Groups should also come up with a list of prairie animals and how they have adapted to survive in the prairie ecosystem. Then the students should write a description of an imaginary animals with both physical and behavioral characteristics that would allow it to survive on the American prairie.

Standards Addressed:

SCI (Life Science) 5.4.7 investigate and describe how some environmental conditions are more favorable than others to living things

SCI (Life Science) 5.4.9 investigate and describe how plants and animals have adaptations allowing them to survive in specific ecosystems

SCI (Life Science) 5.4.11 explain how differences among individuals within a species give them advantages and/or disadvantages in surviving and reproducing

Historical Overview of Chapter Themes

During the time of rapid western expansion, the government as well as the daily life of many Americans was under immense change. The government’s policies regarding Native Americans, its borders, and its definition of “Western Expansion” was undergoing many changes.

The changes that Laura and her family were nothing new to western settlers. The once safe border lands of territories were now regarded as Indian Territory, and therefore unsafe for white settlers and their families. Under government edict, they were forced to move to safer parts of the country. The government was constantly changing its mind on where those Indian borders should be. Under these drawn and redrawn border lines, the Indians were constantly vying for a smaller and smaller parcel of land, while they watched the mismanagement of the land that they once called home.

The settlers themselves had great periods of change. Change from the daily grind of living in big cities; they headed west for an opportunity to own a chunk of the United States. Under government provisions, settlers could stake a claim of up to 160 acres, work it, make improvements such as buildings, crops, and wells, and in five years, the land could be theirs. Due to the hardships of the living conditions, the under-education of the “city folk”, most homesteaders didn’t make the five year requirement.

Farm life was hard. Up before daybreak, most homesteaders worked a full day’s labor before the noon meal. After supper, they worked another full day’s work before turning in for the night, only to start again the next day. Women’s work was no different. They were in charge of the home, which meant the cooking, the cleaning, the wash, and the children. It took several hours just to prepare a meal, and all day to wash the weeks’ worth of clothes. This was on top of having to sew them as well.

Great websites to help with the lessons are listed below. Have students do some research on just what it took to be a homesteader. PBS did a social experiment in which modern day people went back in time and became homesteaders in Montana. Check out their website and DVD on the outcome of the experiment called “Frontier House.”

Additional Resources

Covered Wagon Supply List

Covered Wagon Supply List and Prices

Frontier House on PBS

1 comment:

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

I like the idea of having students determine how much time was spent on chores. Perhaps you could have them record the amount of time they spend on chores for comparison.