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Prairie Life – A Twelve-Week Literature Unit from Pioneer Days Review by Cassandra Holdeman

Holly M. Giles
The Giles Frontier
120 Plantation Road
Debary, FL 32713

We have really enjoyed incorporating unit studies into our homeschooling. They allow us to research books or topics as much or as little as we want to. This year my fourth grade daughter has been reading through the Little House on The Prairie book series for history and because there are so many topics to study in each book, unit studies are the perfect way to study this series. This is why I was excited to receive a copy of Prairie Life – A Twelve-Week Literature Unit from Pioneer Days from The Giles Frontier to review recently.

Prairie Life – A Twelve-Week Literature Unit from Pioneer Days is a unit study designed for use with the book Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It features twelve lessons along with several activities, copywork, handicrafts, research projects, and an event your student can plan.  This unit study could be used with multiple elementary grades because you can adjust the work to be easier for lower grades or more in depth for upper elementary grades. It is available to purchase for just $29 on their website. This study does not come with the Little House in the Big Woods book, so you will need to either purchase it or borrow it from the library. There are also supplies that you need to complete the projects and they can be purchased individually or there are some kits available at The Giles Frontier website that you can purchase separately to accompany the unit study.

Each lesson in the unit study begins by having your student read a chapter from Little House in the Big Woods. After they have finished the reading, there is copywork for them to complete. The copywork is related to the chapter they read. Then there are several projects for your student to complete. Some of the projects are handicrafts and some are recipes to prepare. Next are notebooking pages and/or lapbooking pages for your student to complete on subjects discussed in the chapter. Sometimes there are songs to listen to that accompany the reading. Finally, there are extra optional research projects and field trip ideas that you can incorporate into your school if you choose. Each lesson is designed to take a full week to complete and depending on the age of your student and the level of work you are doing, you can adjust this as needed for your school.

When we received this unit study to review, we had already begun reading Little House in the Big Woods and I had been coming up with my own subjects for my daughter to study and projects for her to do. So I was very relieved when this study arrived, and I saw the variety of activities and projects included. It was exactly what I had wanted her to do with this book and I never even thought to see if something like it already existed. Since she had already started reading the book, we were able to work through the first couple of lessons at a quicker pace. We basically just had to go back and do the copywork and projects for the first four lessons. We also found out that we had already done some of the projects included in the unit study, like making butter from heavy cream and visiting a state park. My daughter really enjoyed every part of this unit study. It was exactly what she had hoped to do while reading the book. She is my writer, so she liked the copywork and notebooking pages. She got to use the internet (with my supervision) to research topics for the notebooking like black panthers, gold mining, and bears. Her favorite parts of this study were the recipes that she got to make and the handicrafts that she did. The really neat part of every handicraft in the book is that it can be entered in your county fair. There are several projects that my daughter completed that she wants to put in the fair like her rag doll. My daughter also really enjoyed planning out the Gold Miner's Camp party. We have not had our party yet, but we are planning on it when she can have some friends over to attend her party. 

I really appreciated the Prairie Life – A Twelve-Week Literature Unit from Pioneer Days. I felt like it is very thorough, and it encouraged learning in multiple ways. I like the flexibility of being able to ask my daughter to be more in-depth with some of the projects and to complete others just as they are written. I felt like this truly makes it so that you can use this study for multiple grade levels. I thought the county fair projects are really cool. They have encouraged my daughter to think about categories for the fair that she might not consider on her own like tablescapes. We would definitely recommend using this Prairie Life – A Twelve-Week Literature Unit from Pioneer Days from The Giles Frontier if you are studying Little House in the Big Woods and want a very thorough study to accompany the book.

-Product review by Cassandra Holdeman, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2018