Chapter 3: Camp on the High Prairie

Teacher's Guide Chapter Author: Kristen Rizzo, 3rd grade teacher, J.T. McWilliams Elementary School, Clark County School District

Chapter Overview: In chapter 3 the Ingall's family continues to travel west. They camp out for a couple of days on the prairie in order to rest up and decide whether or not to stay in the area or keep moving. At nightfall the family thinks their camp is being invaded by a wolf, lynx, or coyote but in the end it was just their dog Jack. They were very surprised and happy to see him seeing as how he had been separated from the family many miles back.

Chapter Themes: Depending on family members, unknowingness of where you will end up, perseverance of people and animals, women having a strong role in the family; Cooking along the trail (utensils, food, access to staples); Nights on the prairie (sleeping/warmth); Selecting a location to homestead; Threatening animals along the trail; Rifles and their purposes (safety, hunting)

Chapter Activities

  • Language Arts
    • "Diary Entry"
      • Students will choose a character from chapter 3 and write a diary entry from that person’s point of view. The diary entry must include the date it was written, three relevant activities the character participated in, a fact about what was going on, an opinion statement about what was going on, and two questions the character might have about the trip ahead.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 4.3.4 Write responses to literature drawing upon experiences
    • "The Adventures of Jack"
  • Students will write a story about the adventures Jack went on while trying to get back safely to the family. The piece should have a main idea and include many details. The story must include three different adventures had by Jack and should be written from Jack’s point of view. It also must include how Jack feels during his ordeal.

    Standards Addressed:
  • 6.3.3 Write simple compositions that address main idea and supporting details

  • Mathematics
    "½ Mile Challenge"
      • In the chapter there seemed to be wolves a half mile away from camp. Have students predict how far away ½ mile is using familiar landmarks around the neighborhood. Then have students predict how many times around the field a half mile is. Walk with students around the field on school grounds for exactly ½ mile. Revise the made predictions and then discuss other units of measurement. Have students convert a ½ mile into yards, feet, and inches. The class could also try converting a half mile into kilometers, meters, and centimeters.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 3.3.3 Estimate and use measuring devises with standard units to measure length
    • "Meal Time Math"
      • In the chapter during meal time four piece place settings were used containing tin plates, steel knives, steel forks, and tin cups. In pairs students will create word problems using this information. The various problems should include concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, probability, etc. After each pair has created problems, they will switch with another pair and solve. Each solution should include a written explanation as to how it came about.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 1.4.3 Add, subtract, and multiply whole numbers with and without regrouping.
        • 6.3.2 Apply previous experience and knowledge to new problem solving situations
  • Social Studies
    • "Create a Timeline"
      • Create a timeline of events that occurred around the same time as the Ingall’s family moving west. Type up the events and have students cut them out in order to be easily manipulated. Have students glue them on a timeline and draw a picture of each. Understanding the other events occurring at that time should increase their background knowledge of the story.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (3)2.5 Create timelines that show events in sequence

    • "Vehicle Compare & Contrast"
      • Students will use a double bubble map to compare and contrast two vehicles. One vehicle must be the covered wagon from the chapter. The other vehicle can be any modern type such as a car, bus, train, or plane. The double bubble map must contain at least five similarities and five differences.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (3)2.2 Discuss various types of transportation used throughout the United States

  • Science
    • "Prairie Animals"
      • Students will research animals that live on the prairie. To present the information students will create a diorama to share with the class. The diorama will include a picture of the environment, the food it eats, adaptations, how it survives, and known predators.
      • Standards Addressed
        • L.5.B.1 Describe the structures that enable animals to grow and survive
        • L.5.C.5 Describe animal adaptations that allow them to survive in specific ecosystems
    • "Grass Class"
      • In this chapter Pa was concerned about starting a fire on the prairie due to the condition of the grass. Have students go out around the school and collect grass samples. These samples should include very alive, green grass blades as well as dead, yellowish grass blades. Using magnifying glasses have students make and record observations about the different blades of grass. Students should make a hypothesis about which type of grass would start a fire the quickest. Have students come up with the steps in the procedure of this experiment and how they would collect data. Although actually doing the experiment would probably not be appropriate for school, the teacher can “try it at home” and come back with the results. Students should revisit their hypothesis and write up a conclusion.
      • Standards Addressed
        • N.5.A.3 Draw conclusions from scientific evidence (observations and measurements).
        • N.5.A.1 Explain that scientific progress is made by conducting careful investigations, recording data, and communicating the results in an accurate method.

~Historical Overview of Chapter Themes

The time period of chapter 3 in Little House on the Prairie can be directly related to the overall module related theme of Westward Expansion as well as the role of women. The Ingall’s family was traveling westward as many other families were throughout the first half of the 19th century. According to the Joy text, during this time of American expansionism, Thomas Jefferson was trying to expand his ‘empire of liberty’ and become a force to be reckoned with on the world scene. Due to events such as the Louisiana Purchase (doubled the size of the United States, 1803) and the Lewis & Clark expedition (provided maps of trails and available resources, 1804), as well as concepts such as ‘Manifest Destiny’ (the belief that the United States was destined to expand across the continent, 1840’s) and ‘Oregon Fever’ (the drive to get to beautiful Oregon Country, 1841) many families had the courage, support, and opportunity to travel west. Cities such as Independence, Missouri were very important to these travelers just as in the Little House on the Prairie book. Although many families traveled in wagon trains such as the Reed and Donner families, according to Rachel K. Laurgaard’s text entitled Patty Reed’s Doll, the Ingall’s family traveled alone. This meant that everyone in the family must pull their weight including the females. At one point in the chapter Pa asks Ma what she thinks about the location of the campsite they have made. It is important to note that during this time period as families were moving west, woman did in fact play an important role. According to the Riley text, women at this time did not always function in the domestic realm and were not always excluded from other realms.

Additional Resources


jlsligar said...

I really enjoyed reading through and reviewing this Teacher's Guide. I thought the lesson suggestions were well thought out and of high quality. I particularly liked the Math lesson called 1/2 Mile Challenge. I felt the activity would be of great value to the students in building conceptual understanding of larger distances than they can deal with in the classroom. I will include it in my plans for use in my Math class next year. I also loved the Science lesson titled Prairie Animals. I website you located for the students to use to research prairie animals is excellent and concise. The students should easily be able to accomplish your objectives with little time lost in located valuable resources.
My one suggestion would be to review the grammar used in writing this guide. I found some of the sentences grammatically incorrect and difficult to follow. You may want to ask a colleague to edit your writing for clarity on this site.
Nice work and congratulations on a job well done.

Randi Stover said...

Your lessons were imaginative and meaningful. I especially liked the idea of the “Jack Adventures.” What a great way to get children excited about writing and begin looking at view points that are not their own. You could even combine all of the children’s stories into a class anthology. Additionally, the idea of exploring their surroundings will make students much more aware of their environment. Not only could they research local grasses, but insects too! As long as they were only captured for scientific research purposes and then set free.

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

I'm rather concerned about the fire idea -- some students may be encouraged to try this at home.

How about having a park ranger come to the class to present about wilderness fires and methods of determining fire danger on a given day?