Chapter 9: Going to Town

Teacher's Guide Chapter Author: Suzanne Hennigan, 5th grade teacher, Schorr ES, Clark County School District

Chapter Overview: As spring came in the Big Woods, Laura and Mary could now enjoy the outdoors. The family would soon take a trip into the town of Pepin and the girls would be able to go because they were getting older. They were very excited about going into town for the first time. The morning that they were going, everyone dressed in their very best clothes. Pa got the horses and wagon ready and they started their journey into town. As they got closer to town, Laura was amazed at what she saw, she had never seen anything like it. The houses were not made of logs but wide, gray, boards running up and down. There were many houses close together not like their house in the Big Woods. The family went into the store so pa could trade his furs for goods at the store. After they were done at the store the family went to the lake shore for a picnic. Eventually, it was time for them to go home and pa sang songs all the way.

Chapter Themes: Family time at the lake, Spring events (flowers, warmth, barefoot), children's activities (e.g., swing, playhouse), 1st experiences, pruning stalks, animal life cycles (doe/fawn), preparing for outings in the 1800s (e.g., dressing up to go to town, cleaning horses/wagon, distance to towns), locations of towns (e.g., on rivers and lakes), features of towns (e.g., houses, stores, construction), items in a prairie store, modern vs. 19th century candy, camping

Chapter Activities
  • Language Arts
    • 1st Experience: Personal Narratives
      • Laura's 1st experience of going into town was a very exciting and frightening one for her. Tell about a time when you were going somewhere for the first time (or any first time experience). How did you feel? Write a personal narrative about your experience. Use details that make your reading feel like they are there.
      • Writng process/writing composition
        • (5)6.1 It is expected that the students will use the writing process.
        • (5)6.2 It is expected that the students will use the analytic writing traits.
        • (5)5.4 It is expected that students will write a narrative or story that develops a plot or sequence and uses "showing" rather than "telling" details to describe the setting, characters, and events of the story
    • Take it Poem
      • Students will take the events and information from our chapter and create a poem. Your poem must include at least two forms of figurative language.
      • Reading Comprehension/writing-composition
        • (5)3.3 It is expected that students will identify historical events and cultural contexts as portrayed in literature.
        • (5)5.8 It is expected that students will use expanded vocabulary in writing. c. Figurative Language
  • Mathematics
    • Take a Trip into Town
      • Students will predict and estimate how much time it would take to get from the house in the Big Woods to Lake Pepin. They will then research the distance and the approximate speed of the wagon and figure out about how long it would of taken to get to town.
      • Measurement
        • (5)3.8 It is expected that students will determine equivalent periods of time, including relationships between and among seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years.
        • (5)3.2 it is expected that students will measure, compare, and convert length to the closest fractional part of inches, feet, yards, and miles.
    • Wagon Wheels
      • Students will research the different types of wagon wheels and they will identify the angles on them (Acute, Obtuse, etc). They will then use a compass to create their own wheels and a protractor to measure then. They will then use a protractor to measure the angles of the wagon wheels I have created for them.
      • Spatial Relationships, Geometry, and logic
        • (5)4.6 It is expected that students will identify, define, draw, and describe points, line segments, rays, and angles.
        • (5)4.8 It is expected that students will measure, compare, draw, and
  • Social Studies
    • Lake Pepin Brochure
      • Create a brochure with information about Lake Pepin. Include a timeline of events that have taken place there, the ecosystem of the lake, and the region of the US that the lake is in. Draw and label a map.
      • History/Geography
        • (5)4.4 It is expected that students will organize historical information from a variety of sources.
        • (5)4.2 It is expected that students will record and interpret events on a graphic organizer, such as a calendar or time line.
        • (5)3.7 It is expected that students will recognize that states in the United states may be grouped into regions.
        • (5)3.18 It is expected that students will identify the parts of different ecosystems, including soil, climate, plant life, and animal life.
    • CD Project
      • Pa sang songs on the trip home. Go to and listen to some of the songs that pa sang. Create a cd with a list of 10 songs titles (that you have made up) that would be good traveling songs. Take one of those titles and write the lyrics to it. You may also illustrate the cover. *Remember your songs must connect with the historical event.
      • History
        • (5)4.4It is expected that students will organize historical information from a variety of sources.
        • (5)4.28It is expected that students will read, interpret, and analyze historical passages.
  • Science
    • Terrariums
      • It is spring time in the Big Woods and the flowers are starting to blossom. Create terrariums with flowers. Keep a journal of the process and observations.
      • Life science/Nature and History of science
        • (5)4.3 It is expected that students will investigate and describe how plants and animals reqire food, water, air, and space.
        • (5)1.1 It is expected that students will use evidence recorded in a science notebook to develop descriptions, models, explanations, and predictions.
        • (5)1.7 It is expected that students will use models to explain how something works or how something is constructed (terrariums)
    • Lake Pepin's ecosystem
      • The students will research Lake Pepin and the ecosystem that surrounds it. They will choose one aspect of the ecosystem and they can choose to do an oral report or put their information together in a power point presentation.
      • Life science
        • (5)4.10 It is expected that the students will investigate and describe how environmental chnges allow some plants and animals to survive and reproduce, but others may die.
        • (5)4.5 It is expected that the students will explain that living things get what they need to survive from their environments.
Historical Overview of Chapter Themes
In the "Little House in the Big Woods" The Ingalls go to town (Pepin) and enjoy a family picnic at the Lake. Pepin's first settler was John McCain who filed a land claim in 1844. The town took the lakes name in 1856. Pepin began to grow and benefited from it's lumber that was harvested in Wisconsin and Minnesota. That supply was exhausted in the early 1900's. Pepin also benefited from the lake. The village continued to grow as a fishing and farming community. During the 1870's, Pepin was home to the Ingalls family, their cabin lies 7 miles north of Pepin. Traveling to town was especially hard in those times, a short trip might take you several hours or days depending on the conditions. The first railroad did not come through Pepin until 1886.

Additional Resources


Jaime Tschan said...

Suzanne- I really enjoyed reading your teacher's guide to chapter 9. I especially liked your lesson ideas for math and social studies. Your use of technology is great. I think it is an awesome idea having the students write their own songs and design labels for them. You could also take it a step further by having them sing their songs and record them on a tape recorder. Students nowadays would love being behind the microphone. Also for your math measurement lesson, you could have the students go online and view the town of Pepin and see what it looks like today. Great work!

Miss Warneka said...

This is a wonderful teacher guide to use with this chapter. I enjoy that you addressed so many different intelligences with your extension activities. I believe students would get engaged with the travel brochure especially if they were to use a computer program such a Publisher to design it and have a professional looking final product. I would suggest having the students present their brochures to explain their thinking and practice that oh so important skill of speaking in front of their peers. Excellent teacher guide!

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

What a great way to teach geometry - a subject our schools often find have lower test scores! It's a particularly strong lesson because it requires students to integrate so many modalities.

It might be a good idea to have students do a comparison between time to travel in the 1800s and time for travel today. This could tie in well with a study on ratios.

Your social studies activities are so creative! These are great for your students will artistic skills and interests. Think about adding technological components. Could they prepare their brochures using Microsoft Word templates? Could they record their songs and place them on the class webpage?