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Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Timeline Activity

The life of Laura Ingalls Wilder spanned nine decades. During her lifetime she saw many changes in the prairie, transportation, communication, daily life, the environment, as well as lived during a time of many significant national and world events. By creating a timeline students will have a visual reference for events in the life of Laura in relation to national / world events and the continual development of technology which impacts our lives today.


  • copies of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Research sheet for each group.
  • copies of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Timeline for events in Laura's life.
  • reference materials for researching national / world events and technology. Include both text and CD ROM materials for student use.
  • Paper for the timeline. Large construction paper works well (one sheet can represent ten years) as does paper on a roll ("butcher" type paper cut in half horizontally).

Teacher Directions

Early in the unit introduce the timeline activity and explain that each student will be working in a pair to find information about events during a period in the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Each group will be assigned a decade (e.g. 1860 -1869, 1870 - 1879, etc.) to research events in Laura's family, events in United States and world history, a fact about a president / first lady, and an invention or development in technology from that assigned time period. Provide students a copy of the research sheet, talk about the reference material available to them, and cite an example in each category. Form pairs, assigning each a different decade.

Indicate to students that each ten year segment of the timeline should include three illustrations. These can be hand drawn, computer generated, and may include one photocopy.

When research is complete, students will be ready to transfer their information and illustrations to a "panel" of the timeline which represents ten years. A horizontal line should be drawn and divided into ten segments and each year marked. (If using large construction paper the lines should be drawn uniformly so that, when papers are connected, they make one continuous line for display.)

Display the completed timeline and allow the students to orally share with the class what they have chosen to include within their decade. Refer back to the timeline throughout the unit as events in Laura's life are discussed

Written material, drawings and watercolors prepared by David Bousfield and Nancy Westlake. Bousfield@iowa-city.k12.ia.us Westlake@iowa-city.k12.ia.us

Photographs and post cards courtesy of:
Laura Ingalls Memorial Society, De Smet, South Dakota.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Park & Museum, Burr Oak, Iowa, Leslie A. Kelly

Paperback book covers on the Little House Books bibliography used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum
P.O. Box 488
210 Parkside Drive
West Branch, IA 52358 | 319-643-5301