Monday, February 4, 2013

It's Laura Week!

Laura Ingalls Wilder's birthday is Feb. 7, so all week long I will be paying to homage to one my favorite women in history and the books she wrote. My real love for Laura and her books can be summed up with this quote:

The simple life. Laura lived the pioneer life, and wrote about the pioneer life. She was a farm wife, and she wrote about living on a farm. To her, it was a simple life, but she celebrated it. Today, many of us yearn for the simple life, which is why her books still persevere.

These lessons of the "simple life" can be passed on to the next generation. I truly believe that modern children can still find valuable lessons in Wilder's writings, especially if you make them exciting to young readers. Every time I get asked to read to my daughter's class, and I am allowed to bring in something to read, I choose something from her books. A chapter that can stand alone as a story. And you know what? By the time I am done, all the kids -- even the boys -- have paid attention and have laughed and marveled at how different life was at the end of the 19th century.

So where do you start? It helps to start at the beginning, with "Little House in the Big Woods." It's an easy read and perfect to read aloud at bedtime. If you have a son, and want to interest them as well, try "Farmer Boy," about the childhood of Laura's husband, Almanzo. It has many funny tales perfect for young boy. (As a little girl, I wanted nothing to do with "Farmer Boy," but when I read it as an adult, I was so disappointed that I didn't enjoy it as a child! It was as good as the other books.)

I love reading Laura's books in the winter. There is something wonderful about revisiting her stories when it is cold outside. Since many of her stories deal with surviving winter, it just seems appropriate.

There are so many great resources for learning about Laura and her life. Of course, there are museums at all the places she lived, each with a website and many with a gift shop filled with pioneer-related goods. Many homeschooling families do units on her books, which means there are dozens of resources available on the Internet with links, projects, lapbooks and more. Dozens of books have been written about her life and about her books, and many are still available in print.

To start small, here are some great little printables to encourage kids to read Laura's books.

Artist Cheryl Harness offers some great coloring pages featuring Laura on her website. They are perfect for older children, as you can see from the picture above.

Here's another great printable:

It's a 3D model of the Little House in the Big Woods. You can layer the printables and make flaps to see inside. This is a great project for new readers to the series!

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum has a wealth of printable activities for kids.

The HarperCollins' official Little House site has many activities, as well as information on all the books.

There's also another great coloring page available online:

It's a coloring page of the postage stamp issued a few years ago in honor of the books.

This week, we'll be covering many Laura activities. Stay tuned!

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