Chapter 7: The Wolf-Pack

Teacher's Guide Chapter Author: Heather Bay Rampton, 3rd grade teacher, Rose Warren Elementary School, Clark County School District

Chapter Overview:
In this chapter, the Ingalls family gets a little too close for comfort with some wild animals. Pa and Mr. Edwards built a stable for the mustangs, Pet and Patty. In this stable, Pet became a mother and had a new baby colt, which the girls named Bunny.

One day, Pa rode Patty to explore the prairie, and he returned with frightening news. He had a run-in with a pack of fifty wolves, the biggest wolves he had ever seen! Pa speculates that the wolves only left them alone because they must have already eaten. Still, even Pa was afraid! He said he "wouldn't go through such a thing again, not for a mint of money" (Ingalls 85).

The Ingalls family had not seen the last of the wolves! Later that night, Laura woke while the rest of the family was asleep. Pa lifted her up so she could see out the window, and they found the huge pack of wolves had circled their house! Laura listened to the wolves howling into the night. Meanwhile, Pet and Patty were going stir-crazy in the barn. Pa put Laura back to bed, and Laura fell asleep knowing that Pa and Jack the bulldog would keep the family safe.

Chapter Themes: horses, mustangs, safety, danger, daily routines; Types of wolves (species, pack mentality, eating habits, play, sizes, populations); Domestic vs. wild animals (care and safety); Population density and proximity of neighbors; Foods at meals; Dangers of exposure/Illness during migration; Sleeping behaviors (bedding, warmth, safety)

Chapter Activities
  • Language Arts
    • Laura's Letter Home
      • Students will take on the role of Laura and imagine that they are writing a letter home to her friends in Pepin, Wisconsin. As Laura, they will describe the events of this last chapter.
      • Standards Addressed from the Power Standards
        • 5.3.2 Students will write friendly and formal letters.
        • 2.3.4 Students will restate facts and details in text to share information and organize ideas.
        • 2.3.A1 Students will interpret information in new contexts.
    • Little House Theater
      • In small groups, students will write a play from sections of this chapter, starting from pages 84- 93. Student groups will perform their plays in front of the rest of the class. As a whole group, we will compare and contrast the different versions. Students will understand that different people can interpret the same story in multiple ways.
      • Standards Addressed from the Power Standards
        • 5.3.4 Students will write responses to literature, drawing upon experiences.
        • 3.3.7 Students will read and identify stories, plays, poetry, and non-fiction selections.
  • Mathematics
    • Design a Horse Shelter
      • In pairs or small groups, students will design a stable, barn, or other shelter for Pet, Patty, and Bunny. Students will draw blueprints of their shelter, including measurements and orientations. Students will determine the perimeter and area of their shelter. If time and materials allow, students may build a model of their horse shelter.
      • Students will use the following websites to research how much space each horse will need, and what other things a horse stable will require:
      • Standards Addressed from Power Standards
        • 4.3.4 Compare, sketch, or model 2- and 3- dimensional geometric figures and objects.
        • 7.3.7 Use models, pictures, diagrams, tables, charts, and graphs to solve problems and represent mathematical ideas.
        • 3.4.3 Communicate the difference between perimeter and area.
    • Pa's Daily Schedule
      • Students will write a timeline of Pa's activities in this chapter. They will include the following events: building the horse stable, leaving on the exploration trip, meeting Mr. and Mrs. Scott, meeting the bachelors, meeting the Iowan family of five, encountering the wolves, coming home in time for dinner, etc...
      • Standards Addressed from the Power Standards
        • 3.3.6 Tell time to the nearest minute, using analogue and digital clocks, and identify elapsed time.
        • 5.3.1 Collect, organize, display, interpret, and describe data using number lines, pictographs, bar graphs, and frequency tables.
  • Social Studies
    • Town Hall Meeting
      • Students will conduct a town meeting about how to control the wolves. In small groups, students will prepare various solutions (ie: hunting the wolves, making a feeding station, putting the wolves in a zoo, letting the wolves run free, etc...). Each group will make their presentation and the class will vote on the best solutions.
      • Standards Addressed from the C.E.F.
        • 3.1.1 Students will identify examples of rules, laws, and authorities that keep people safe and property secure.
        • 3.1.2 Students will explain that democracy involves voting, majority rule, and setting rules.
    • Pa's Prairie Travel Map
      • Students will create a map based on Pa's travels in this chapter. Included landmarks include: Mr. & Mrs. Scott's house, the bachelors' house, the Ingalls' house, High Prairie, etc... The map will also include map elements such as a key, compass rose, title, and other labels.
      • Standards Addressed from the C.E.F.
        • 3.3.4 Students will construct a simple map, including title, symbols, and directions.
        • 3.3.6 Students will identify and explain simple spatial patterns on a map.
  • Science
    • Compare and Contrast Bulldogs and Wolves
      • Students will research bulldogs and wolves. Then, students will create a foldable to compare and contrast Jack the bulldog with a wolf. Students may work individually, in pairs, or in a small group.
      • Students can research using the following websites:
      • Standards Addressed from the C.E.F.
        • 3.4.1 Students will investigate and describe ways that offspring may resemble and differ from parents.
        • 3.4.4 Students will identify and compare needs common to most living things.
    • How to Raise a Baby Horse
      • In small groups, students will research how to raise a baby horse. Students will present this information in the form of a poster, PowerPoint presentation, big book, brochure, etc...
      • Students can visit these websites:
      • Standards Addressed from the C.E.F.
        • 3.4.2 Students will investigate, compare, and contrast life cycles of various living things.
        • 3.4.6 Students will investigate and describe how changes to an environment can be beneficial or harmful to plants and animals.
        • 3.4.4 Students will identify and compare needs common to most living things.
Historical Overview of Chapter Themes
The daily routine of farm life was just as rigorous for women as for men. In this chapter, Ma Ingalls cooked her family’s dinner by campfire, all the while putting on a brave face while the family waited with uncertainty for Pa to return from his daily travels. Even in the face of a possible wolf attack, Ma said, “…I would manage to save our horses” (Wilder 92). In this chapter, while Pa is out scouting the land and braving off the wolves, Ma is doing much more than sitting at home looking pretty. Although all of her tasks may not have been explicitly listed, it can easily be assumed that she also had a full day of labor.

Ma, like most women, “accepted the challenge of unending chores” (Riley 154), and could easily be crowned with title of “domestic artisan,” providing an astounding variety of goods necessary for family survival. Ma also did what she could to make their rudimentary dwelling into a pleasant home. When they lacked a door for their house, Ma provided a quilt to serve as a barrier between the home and outdoors.

Some literature incorrectly paint a picture of pioneer women as fearful and dainty, fearing the work and the land, and as sitting around in sunbonnets, “sad-faced… sitting on the front seat of the wagon, following her lord where he might lead” (Riley 153). This was certainly not the case. As an adult, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote that she, like countless women of that period, felt that “farming was as good as any other business” (Riley 149). Women were expected to contribute to family survival in every possible way, creating products and doing work that we so easily take for granted in today’s consumer society. The Riley text quotes one Dakota woman who summarized the demands placed upon women at that time. She said, “While a woman had more independence here than in any other part of the world, she was expected to contribute as mucha s a man—not in the same way… but to the same degree” (Riley 149).

Works Cited and Referenced:

Joy, Mark S. American Expansionism 1783-1860. Great Britain: Pearson Education, 2003.

Riley, Glenda. Women in the American West. Arlington Heights: Harlan Davidson, 1992.

Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House on the Prairie. New York: Harper Collins, 1935.

Additional Resources


Monica Modesitt said...

Little House Theater is a brilliant idea. You provided many internet links to additional resources. You wrote the title of the website, instead of writing the website address. That’s a good idea, because you have a description of the website in the title. For Pa’s timeline, the students could make an accordion-style foldable. Go to and search “foldables.” Books by Dinah Zike will be displayed. The travel map could be turned into a board game. The starting point could be the meadow, and the ending point could be the barn at the Ingall’s house. Spaces, such as “Pa stops to watch the deer, miss a turn,” could be included. When Pa is telling Ma about the wolf-pack, you could record this dialogue, using the italk, onto your ipod. The students could hear Pa tell his tale with expression.

Christina Tonemah said...

What wonderful activities! Your ideas inspired me to think further outside the box. I especially liked your idea for the Town hall meeting. What a fantastic way to get students discussing and problem solving. Another favorite of mine is designing a horse shelter. It reminds of an investigations activity and could be connected quite easily to integrate the two lessons.

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

I love your use of hands-on activities. Could you take it one step further and actually build a stable? Perhaps this could be done as a service project. Also, this could be a great way to involve dads. Many children's fathers are construction workers and this could be a good opportunity to having children learn about their parents' work skills in a safe environment (after all, they probably can't go to a construction job site on "Take Your Daughter/Son to Work Day").

DrummerGirl said...

Christina- funny that you mention Investigations- that's what I was thinking about, too.

Christy- I really like the idea about involving the dad's. So many of the dads in my class work in construction and they have been really excited about helping out with these kinds of projects in the past. Maybe a class could hook up with a local non-profit horse rescue, such as Miracle Horse Rescue, and help them build something.

This would be a great way to integrate service learning, too!!!