I finished reading aloud “Little House in the Big Woods” to my preschoolers, and have started the next book, “Little House on the Prairie.” We’re only on page 15, yet what has happened in those few pages has become Geography-101, in the best of ways. The big woods in Wisconsin were something children here in New England can understand- except for panthers. When the move from the little house in Wisconsin began, everything was packed into a covered wagon, and off they went.
They had to cross the Missouri River. That’s when the questions and geography started.
The river was frozen, so the horses pulled the wagon across the ice. Then, after many weeks of traveling, they were on land that had no hills or trees. It was the prairie. Wait! Our beloved picture book of “This Land is Your Land” has a prairie. We looked at that illustration and talked about how different a prairie is.
I pulled out our Big Book Atlas to show children Wisconsin. Laura and her family had traveled from Wisconsin to Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri.
As we looked at the big map book, we saw the river, and then we traced every river into the oceans and the gulf. We learned about North, South, East and West. We found mountain ranges where snow never melts. We compared the sizes of states. Children thought Massachusetts was big, but no. We learned that there are fifty states, and that’s the same number of stars on our American flag.
Geography is interesting and exciting for children. Learning through books is the best. Thank you, Laura Ingalls Wilder.