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Little House in the Big Woods
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
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1.From the cover of the book, did you think this might be an old-fashioned story that took place a long time ago? What clues did you have about when this story takes place?
2.Have you ever been to a cabin for part of a summer? If so, how did that cabin compare to the Ingalls family's house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin? Is anything the same? What is different?
3.Wild animals live in the Big Woods. How do the wild animals that live in YOUR neighborhood compare to the wolves, bears, wild cats, and other wild animals that lived near the Ingalls family in the Big Woods a long time ago?
4.Almost everything that the Ingalls family eats is prepared by hand. What foods does your family eat that they make themselves?
5.Because there are no grocery stores nearby, the family has a garden to grow vegetables. Have you ever had a garden? If so, what did you grow?
6.Are you more like Laura or more like her sister Mary? Why?
7.Pa makes a balloon from a pig's bladder. What other toys did the girls have? Which toys would YOU want to play with?
8.Ma has special work that needs to be done each day, such as wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday. What chores do YOU have to do at your house? Which do you like best? Why?
9.Until she was 5 years old, Laura had never seen a town and never been to a store. What do you suppose she had imagined towns and stores were like? Compared to the tiny town of Pepin, Wisconsin, so many years ago, what do you suppose Laura would think of the Twin Cities and the Mall of America today?
10.Which is your favorite of Pa's stories? Why? * The Story of Grandpa and the Panther * The Story of Pa and the Voice in the Woods * The Story of Grandpa's Sled and the Pig * The Story of Pa and the Bear in the Way
11.Some of the stories Pa tells are scary, like the story about Laura's grandpa being chased by a panther or the story about Pa as a little boy in the Big Woods after dark. Do you like scary stories? Why or why not?
12.Which do you think was scarier? When Ma realized she had slapped a bear? Or when Pa ran at a bear in the road? Why?
13.What part did you like most when you read about the maple syrup dance? Why?
14.Have you ever seen or been to a square dance? Have you ever danced in a square dance yourself? What was it like?
15.Laura has a cousin who is also named Laura Ingalls. Do you have any family members or friends whose name is the same as yours? If so, were you both named after someone special?
16.Everyone in the Ingalls family ate maple sugar and maple syrup, then maple candy made on snow at the dance, then maple in the patty-pans for the children, and then maple syrup on pancakes for breakfast the next day. Why do you think they ate so much maple syrup? And how much maple syrup do you think YOU could eat?
17.The Ingalls do special things to prepare for relatives coming at the holidays. What is one tradition your family has for celebrating a holiday?
18.Pa scares away a bear and chops down a tree full of honey despite lots of bees. Do you think Pa was especially brave? Why or why not?
19.The Ingalls girls didn't have many toys or even friends to play with, but they always seemed to find plenty to do. Would you have liked to have lived in their time, when there were no TVs, video games, or even many books to read? Why or why not?
20.Why do you suppose the Ingalls family had so many visitors in the summertime? Does your family have more visitors in the summertime than the rest of the year?
21.What did you think when you read about how some foods were made, like making cheese using part of a baby cow's stomach? After reading this book, have you been thinking more about how food is made?
22.Ma was very fashionable before she moved to the Big Woods with Pa. Why do you think Ma was willing to leave her home back East? Would you want your family to start a new life in the wilderness?
23.At the end of the book, why do you think Pa spared the lives of the deer and bear he saw in the woods, even though his family could have used the meat in the winter? What does this tell you about Pa?
24.Would you like the life that the Ingalls family had? Why or why not?
25.Laura's cousin Charley was very naughty when Pa and Laura's uncle were harvesting the oats. What did you think about Charley getting stung by all of the yellow jackets?
26.The story followed the Ingalls family throughout a year. Which was your favorite season to read about? Why?
27.What if, like the Ingalls family, you could only have certain foods at certain times of the year? What if you couldn't just go to the store and buy whatever food you felt like eating? What foods would you miss the most?
28.The threshing machine was the first machine Laura had ever seen. What machines do you see every day? What do you think Laura would think of our modern machines?
29.Everyone in the Ingalls family works together. What things does your family do together?
30.Most of the time, we hear that Mary is very ladylike. But Mary teases Laura that her own golden hair is prettier than Laura's brown hair. Do your sisters or brothers ever act that way? What types of things do they say that make YOU mad?
31.At the very end of the book, Laura says that "&now is now. It can never be a long time ago." What do you think people more than 140 years from now will think when they read stories that take place in 2009? What do you suppose they would think is strange or old-fashioned?
32.Why do you think the Little House books are still so popular, more than 100 years after they were written?
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