The Long Winter: 3—"Fall of the Year" and 4—"October Blizzard" and 5—"After the Storm"

Teacher's Guide Author: Joelle Hauguel, 5th grade teacher, James Bilbray Elementary School, Clark County School District _________________________________________________________________________________
This teachers' guide is one of a series including activities for all chapters of The Long Winter. Additional teacher's guides are available for other Little House books as well as other books addressing the topic of U.S. westward migration.
Little House Teacher's Guides


Chapter Overviews: The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a book about an extremely difficult winter faced by the Ingalls family. Laura Ingalls and her family live on the Prairie but when Pa has a feeling that the winter is going to be a difficult one, he moves his family into town. Pa’s intuition was correct and it was the worst winter anyone had seen in a long time.

Chapter 3: Fall Of The Year It was the first day of October and the cold weather was already making it's way on plains. Frost was appearing in the morning and the cold air was chilling the family to the bone. Everyone in the family was helping with the harvest. It wasn't an immense amount of vegetables but they would get by. Pa went out to hunt and the girls helped Ma make a green pumpkin pie as a surprise for Pa. After returning empty handed from his hunting expedition Pa said that it was queer that there wasn't a goose in sight. Winter was coming and Pa had a feeling it was going to be a bad one.

Chapter 4: October Blizzard The family wakes up to a frozen shanty and frosted over windows. A blizzard in October hadn't been heard of. The family huddled together by the stove. Ma made some tea and bean soup to help warm everyone. The woodpile was just outside the door but every time Pa went to gather the wood, he let in a bunch of snow. Pa gathered Grace and Carrie on his lap told a story about their grandpa. Then grabbed his fiddle and started playing a song. He told the girls to get up and march to the music to warm themselves and they did. The were warm from the tips of their toes to the top of their heads. The snow storm lasted two more days and two more nights.

Chapter 5: After The Storm Laura woke to a quiet home, the noise of the storm had ceased. Pa was telling Ma all about the cattle standing by the haystacks. He was concerned they would knock the haystacks down so he went outside to get them moving. Laura went out with him to help. In amazement, Laura watched her father free the cattle. They were frozen to the ground in the grazing position. Their own breathe had frozen in that horrible blizzard. Laura ran back to the house to tell the rest of the family, but no one believed her silly story. Pa came in and confirmed the story and everyone was in shock and disbelief. They all felt horrible for the cattle. Pa still has some reservation about the the queerness of this storm.

Chapters' Themes: Hard Work, Endurance, Courage, Survival, Family, Pioneer Life, Harvest

Suggested Activities
Language Arts

    • Journal Writing
      • Keep a journal based on the events that occur in the Ingalls household. Students will keep a record of their reading as well as summarizing the important parts of what they have read. They will write down questions that they have about the chapters. Students will check back with their journals as they read through the story to see if the book answers any of their questions.

      • Standards Addressed
        • 5.5.1 Participate in daily writing activities (e.g. journals, learning logs, reports
        • 5.4.4 Write responses to literature, using supporting details from the selection
        • 5.4.5 Write compositions with a main idea and supporting details
        • 5.10.2 Ask and answer questions with relevant details to clarify ideas

    • Iced Over
      • The picture on page 49 and reading the text on page 50 describe the reaction the family had when they heard Pa tell them about what happened to the cattle.

      • Standards Addressed
      • 5.5.5 write responses to literary selections using supporting details from the selection to support their responses
      • 5.5.6 write compositions with a main idea and supporting details


  • Weather Man
    Discuss with class the role the weather plays in prairie farm life. Students will record the weather of one prairie state daily for two weeks. Students will present the temperatures on a bar graph for the two weeks and present it to the class
    • Standards Addressed
    • 5.5.2 organize and represent data using a variety of graphical representations including frequency tables and line plots.
    • 5.5.6 interpret data and make predictions using frequency tables and line plots.
  • Harvest Time
    • Students will draw three different layouts of their fields that resembles a multiplication equation using arrays i.e. 10x20. The students will price their harvest per half pound and determine how much money they will make when their entire harvest is sold
    • Standards Addressed
    • 5.3.5 measure and record to a required degree of accuracy to the nearest half unit.
    • 5.1.22 add and subtract decimals using money as a model.
    • 5.1.20 Multiply a two-or three-digit number by a multiple of ten
    • 5.2.6 Identify, explain and use mathematics in everyday life.

  • Social Studies
    • Master of Maps
      • Students will review how to read a map and locate specific information about De Smet, SD using Students will create a map of the Ingalls homestead and the nearby town. They will share and display their maps with the class.

      • Standards Addressed
        • 5.2.0 understand the physical and human features and cultural characteristics of places and use this information to define and study regions and their patterns of change.
        • 5.7.0 ask and answer geographic questions by acquiring, organizing, and analyzing geographic information.

    • Time Line
      • Students will preview the site and then create their own timeline about the author Laura Ingalls Wilder using 10 important dates from her life. Students will publish their timelines, adding appropriate clip-art for the events listed, using Inspirations software and orally present them to the class
      • Standards Addressed
      • 5.4.1 Record events on a graphic organizer, such as a calendar or timeline.
      • 5.4.14 Create timelines that show people and events in sequence using days, weeks, months, years, decades, and centuries.
  • Science

    • Tools of the 1800's
      • Students will choose what they considered to be the most important tool from the 1800s. After researching the tools, students will create an advertisement for that tool, including a description and an illustration.

      • Standards Addressed
        • 5.1.9 Compare the advantages and disadvantages of using technology
        • 5.4.4 Draw conclusions about text and support them with evidence.

    • Hay on the land

      • Pa has to cut and bail his hay in a very vast flat land. Students will investigate and analyze various landforms, how the landforms were created, and the effect it had on farmers on the trail.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 5.0 Students understand that features on the Earth's surface are constantly changed by a combination of slow and rapid processes
        • 5.2 Students know water, wind, and ice constantly shape the Earth's land surface by eroding rock and soil in some places and depositing them in other areas.

  • Extension Activities

  • Wildflowers
    The Little House books contain several references to wild flowers. In On the Banks of Plum Creek, Laura Ingalls Wilder described the blue flags, black-eyed Susans, violets, and buttercups that grew wild on the family's farm. In By the Shores of Silver Lake, Laura finds her little sister, Grace, sitting in a buffalo wallow surrounded by violets. Laura and Almanzo's daughter, Rose, was named for the wild rose that grew everywhere on the prairie.

    A fun activity for students is to select a prairie flower, briefly research it, and create a colorful seed packet for it. The seed packet template Wildflower Seed Packet template, view or download pdf is designed for a description of the wildflower (from the research) to be written on the back and labeled / illustrated on the front. It can then be cut, folded and glued to create the seed packet. Before gluing the top flap closed, a pinch of wildflower "mystery" seeds can be inserted for students to take home and plant.
    Suggested wildflowers are:
    anemone blazing star blue violet coreopsis goldenrod gray-headed coneflower lily morning glory prairie sunflower purple coneflower sheep sorrel shooting star thimbleweed yellow violet wild onion wild rose
  • SunBonnet
    This little girl's paper sunbonnet is fashioned after the cloth ones Laura Ingalls wore. To make a pattern template that will stand up to repeated use, you will need a 12 x 16 piece of tag board. Cut out the half pattern included with these instructions. Using the diagram, on the half pattern as a guide, place half pattern on one side of the tag board, trace around it marking the center with a dashed line. Flip the pattern over and trace around the other side. Cut out tag board on outside lines - do not cut center line. Use a paper punch to punch holes where marked.

    Materials for sunbonnets:
    · 1 sheet of 12 x 16 construction paper for each bonnet (one inventive teacher used patterned wallpaper!)
    · pencil to draw around pattern
    · scissors
    · paper punch
    · 8 hole reinforcements for each bonnet
    · 3 - 18" pieces of yarn for each bonnet
    · crayons or markers to decorate bonnet
    · lace trim (optional)

    Place the tag board pattern on construction paper and trace around it with a pencil, making sure to mark a dot in each of the holes. Cut out construction paper, and punch holes where marked. Put reinforcements on each side of holes. Thread one piece of yarn through both holes marked "A" on the pattern, and tie a bow. This will curve the paper to form the shape of the bonnet. The size of the bonnet can be adjusted by how tight or loose you tie the back yarn. Next tie one piece of yarn in each of the other holes - these will be the ties to hold the bonnet on. Use crayons or markers to decorate as desired.

    Activities and more like it are found on:
Historical Overview of Chapter Themes

The pioneer life was a very demanding lifestyle for all members of the family. The father worked away from the house to earn income for the homestead. The mother found herself alone with more responsibilities than they were used to. The pioneer woman was not only responsible for maintaining their household, cooking, sewing and her children’s well being, but some also held outside employment to help supplement their family income. The pioneer women were responible for keeping their family together in more ways than imaginable.
The harsh conditions of the isolated lands in the west caused several obstacles for the pioneer women. They faced the bitter cold, blizzards, horendous fires and swarms of insects, but these women were surviors and adapted well to the conditions brought about by nature. The children had chores to do as well. Many of them helped around the house but when old enough they would go out and assist their fathers in the hay field or with the crops.
Homes on the prairies were called shanties and were very rustic. The home was basically one room with linens hanging to separate the dining area from the sleeping rooms. The pioneer women were affected by many technological modications as well. Life began to improve as population grew. They moved into larger homes with neighborhoods, churches and schools. The Dakota plains were developing into a fine place to raise a family.

Additional Resources

Note: This teacher's guide was developed as part of one of the Clark County School District's Teaching American History grants. In this grant module, teachers focused on using children's historical literature to teach cross-curricular concepts relating to 19th century westward movement. For more information about this blog, related teacher's guides, or the grant module, please contact Dr. Christy Keeler.


mmpink said...

Great guide! I like all your ideas especially the harvest time one where students can see a connection between the arrays they practice in class and a real life connection. After they figure out how much money they made, you might have them decide how they will spend their money on the necessities needed for living on the prairie. For the journal writing, you could have the students share their questions and answers with the rest of the class or if they can't find an answer to a question, that could lead to a research project where they get on the internet to find the answer. Great extensions and good information on your links and I liked the pictures at the beginning of the guide as well. I had a hard time coming up with extensions or suggestions for improvement! Awesome job!

Jill Killian said...

Fantastic job! I love the photographs. Your math lesson, "The Weather man" is great I wish I would have thought of that!! Your connections are wonderful and I think that your students would really connect with this book and activities.

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

I love your "Harvest Time" activity! What a great way to teach the practical application of mathematical concepts. After this lesson when students ask "Why are we learning this?", you can always return to this example.

When doing the "Iced Over" activity, I recommend you have the school counselor in the classroom.The description of freeing the cows from the ice was very painful for me to read. Though I doubt students will have the same reaction, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Following the "Weather Man" activity, I would have students view a climograph of weather and precipitation patterns in their prairie state. They could then create their own climographs based on data from the Las Vegas Valley and discuss the reasons for the differences.

To reinforce Nevada history, it might be nice to do the "Timeline" activity as a whole group lesson and then each student study a different Nevadan for which to create a timeline.