Pre-Visit/Post-Visit Activities for the Classroom
Essential Question: What was life like on a farm in 19th century New York State, and how is it the same/different from my life now?
Overview: Students will listen to the book Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder read aloud by their classroom teacher and keep a response journal. After a class visit to Museum Village and touring the Farm Tools exhibit, students will develop a research question related to the exhibit and 19th century life. Students will conduct their research using the ‘Big 6’ method and will present their research, which will be displayed on the Museum Village website.
Standards Addressed: (Grade four specific)
Key Ideas and Details
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Summarize the text
Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text.
Craft and Structure
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text.
Responding to Literature
Make connections to personal events and situations.
Production and Distribution of Writing
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Research to Build and Present Knowledge
Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating an understanding of the subject under investigation.
Responding to Literature
Develop personal connections within and across genres as they respond to texts through written presentations.
The new nation
Those values, practices, and traditions that unite all Americans
Industrial growth and expansion
Transportation, inventions, communication, and technology
Geographic influences of industrialization and expansion
(e.g., natural resources, location); the interactions between economic and geographic factors
Urbanization: economic, political, and social impacts
Economic interdependence (e.g., resource use; from farm to market)
Objective: Students will understand what life was like on a farm in northern New York State during the middle of the 19th century.
1. Read aloud to the class the book Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This book focuses on the experiences of nine year old Almanzo Wilder during one year on the farm he grew up on in Malone, NY. Many of the activities/tools that students will see at Museum Village are mentioned in the book.
Themes in the book include:
19th century rural life
Childhood of the past
2. Introduce the book by activating student background knowledge about the 19th century. When was the 19th century? What do you think life was like for people during the 1800’s? What important historical events took place during the 1800’s?
Time line web resources:
3. To help students visualize farm life in the mid 1800’s, use the following Currier and Ives prints, projected on an interactive white board or an LED projector.
For detailed background information on Currier and Ives, visit this web site:
4. Using the following analysis worksheet, have students in pairs or groups of three discuss and analyze at least one of the above prints.
Currier and Ives Lithograph Analysis Worksheet
Step 1: Observation
a. Study the print for 2 minutes. Form an overall impression of the print and then examine individual items. Next, divide the print into quadrants and study each section to see what new details become visible. Draw what you see below.
b. Use the chart below to list people, objects, and activities in the print.
Step 2: Inference
Based on what you have observed, list at least three things you might infer about life in the 19th century from this print.
Step 3: Questions
a. What questions does this print raise in your mind about life in the 19th century? Write them below.
b. Where might you find the answers to your questions?
*Adapted from the National Archives and Records Administration Photo Analysis Worksheet*
5. Discuss the worksheet as a whole group. A chart could be kept in the classroom during the reading of the book titled, “What we know about the 19th century.” Observations could be recorded after the Currier and Ives discussion.
6. A discussion of Laura Ingalls Wilder would also add to the students’ understanding of the book. Some good websites are:
7. Before reading the book, give each student a notebook to be used as a response journal. Read one chapter a day aloud to students. Students will record selected vocabulary from each chapter and their response to a question that corresponds to each chapter.
8. The suggested vocabulary and corresponding meanings should be discussed before the reading of each chapter. Students should make a table in their response journals to record the vocabulary discussion that looks like this:
9. Daily response questions should be written on the board before the reading of the chapter so students can take notes during the reading if they choose.
Suggestions for class discussion after each chapter include:
Differences between Almanzo’s life and theirs
Summarizing of events
Chores Almanzo was expected to do
Student reactions to his life
New things they are learning about 19th century life
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Vocabulary and Response Questions
Chapter 1: School Days
Vocabulary: billows, dyed, primer, thrash
Response question: Describe the setting of the book.
Chapter 2: Winter Evening
Vocabulary: buggy, haymow, stock, hoopskirts
Response question: List the character’s names and a trait for each. Use details from the story to back up your ideas.
Chapter 3: Winter Night
Vocabulary: tallow, parlor, muffler
Response question: What did the Wilder family do for entertainment in the evening? How would you occupy yourself without TV?
Chapter 4: Surprise
Vocabulary: impudently, bobsled, swaggered
Response question: Father tells Almanzo, “When a man undertakes a job, he has to stick to it till he finishes it.” Why does he tell him this? Do you agree? Why or why not?
Chapter 5: Birthday
Vocabulary: yoke, curryings, loom
Response question: What did you get for your last birthday? How did you celebrate your birthday? Compare/contrast how Almanzo celebrated his birthday with how you did.
Chapter 6: Filling the Ice-House
Response question: Why were the men cutting ice? Why don’t we do this activity anymore?
Chapter 7: Saturday Night
Vocabulary: immense, eaves, pannikin
Response question: Why didn’t Almanzo like taking baths? Use details from the chapter to back up your answer.
Chapter 8: Sunday
Vocabulary: bonnet, fidget
Response question: Describe Almanzo’s Sunday
Chapter 9: Breaking the Calves
Vocabulary: yoke, solemn
Response question: Describe two character traits of Almanzo and give examples from the chapter.
Chapter 10 : The Turn of the Year
Vocabulary: caldron, fetched
Response question: What three activities were described in the chapter? What was Almanzo’s role in each activity?
Chapter 11: Springtime
Vocabulary: traces, furrows, harrow, sowed, hoe
Response question: What did the Wilders plant? “Almanzo was a little soldier in this great battle.” Explain what this metaphor means.
Chapter 12: Tin-Peddler
Vocabulary: soldered, tin
Response question: How do you obtain things you want/need? How does Almanzo’s mother get the tin ware that she wants? Have you ever gotten anything this way? Explain.
Chapter 13: The Strange Dog
Vocabulary: haunches, blemish, Morgan
Response question: Why was the Wilder family scared? Use details to back up your ideas.
Chapter 14: Sheep Shearing
Vocabulary: shearing, pasture
Response question: Describe two more character traits for Almanzo that are illustrated in the chapter. Back up your ideas with details.
Chapter 15: Cold Snap
Response question: Describe all the activities of Almanzo and his family. Identify which family member did what. How did weather affect the family?
Chapter 16: Independence Day
Response question: Compare/contrast the way Almanzo celebrated July 4th with the way that you celebrate the holiday.
Chapter 17: Summer Time
Vocabulary: idleness, cultivate, churning
Response question: Describe what Almanzo does during the summer.
Chapter 18: Keeping House
Response question: Give an example of cause/effect from the chapter.
Chapter 19: Early Harvest
Vocabulary: scythes, grindstone, swathes, windrows, sheaves, shocking
Response question: Explain the statement, using details from the text,
“There was no rest and no play for anyone now.”
Chapter 20: Late Harvest
Response question: Write what happened to Almanzo in the potato field in the first person, as if you are Almanzo.
Chapter 21: County Fair
Response question: Summarize Almanzo’s experience at the fair.
Chapter 22: Fall of the Year
Vocabulary: carcass, tallow (review), caldron (review)
Response question: Describe how the Wilders use different parts of the animals they butcher.
Chapter 23: Cobbler
Vocabulary: cobbler, husk, lasts (as in shoe lasts)
Response question: How is getting new shoes different for Almanzo than it is for you? Use details from the chapter to back up your ideas.
Chapter 24: The Little Bobsled
Vocabulary: hewed, auger
Response question: The author describes in detailed steps how Almanzo’s father made a bobsled. Describe how to make something, including at least four steps.
Chapter 25: Threshing
Vocabulary: flail, threshing, pitchfork, chaff
Response question: Almanzo said, “You can depend on me. I’m big enough to take care of you all.” Explain why he said this using details from the chapter.
Chapter 26: Christmas
Vocabulary: switch, scour, garnet, cravat
Response question: Give an example of an internal conflict from the chapter and an external conflict from the chapter. Explain using details from the book.
Chapter 27: Wood-Hauling
Response question: Almanzo had a few problems in this chapter. Describe two of them using details from the book.
Chapter 28: Mr. Thompson’s Pocketbook
Vocabulary: capstan, shinnied, skinflint
Response question: How did Almanzo get $200? What would you do with the money? Use details from the chapter to back up your ideas.
Chapter 29: Farmer Boy
Response question: Infer what you think Almanzo’s decision was – to be an apprentice to Mr. Paddock or to be a farmer like his father. Use details from the chapter to back up your ideas.
Responses can be assessed using the following rubric:
Student shows insight and uses details from the book to support ideas. Response fully answers the question.
Student uses details from the book to support ideas. Response answers the question.
Student attempts to use details from the book but may not be accurate or does not fully address the question.
Student does not use details from the book to support ideas. Response is inaccurate and does not reflect the story or is too short to evaluate.
Vocabulary words are correctly defined. Illustrations show time and care were taken and reflect word meanings.
Vocabulary words are correctly defined and illustrations reflect word meanings.
Vocabulary words may not be correctly defined. Illustrations are messy or do not reflect word meanings.
Vocabulary words are not correctly defined or work is incomplete. Illustrations do not reflect meanings or are missing.
There are no errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, or capitalization. Indenting is evident.
There are a few errors in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, or grammar but the errors do not interfere with communication.
There are many errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, and capitalization that interfere with communication.
The response is unreadable or is too short to evaluate.
Upon completion of the book, students should be asked to complete a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting their life and Almanzo’s.
During your visit to the Farm Tools exhibit, students will be encouraged to think about and develop a question they would like to further explore through a historical research project.
Possible questions might include:
What invention during the 1800’s changed farming practice?
What role did women play on the farm?
What is farming like now in Orange County?
What contributions have immigrants played in settling farm land in Orange County?
What is the ‘black dirt’?
How did geography play a role in the development of farms in Orange County?
These projects may take any form, but we suggest using the Big 6 framework for conducting research. Use the link below for more information about the process.
We welcome the sharing of research projects with the museum on our website.
Create a broadside showcasing an important 19th century farm tool
Create a series of maps showing the development of farming over time in Orange County.
Create a power point presentation showcasing your research
Write a first person diary of a farmer