Unit Resources: Living off the Land

Book List

Lesson 1: Preparing for Your Journey

Going West by Laura Ingalls Wilder (PR) 

Apples to Oregon by Deborah Hopkinson (PR, ER)

Pioneer Cat by William H. Hooks (EE, UE) 

The Homestead Act and Westward Expansion: Settling the Western Frontier by Irene Harris (UE)

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink (MS)

Which Way to the Wild West? by Steve Sheinkin (MS, HS) 


Lesson 2: On the Trail

Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story by Matthew Lasley (PR) 

DK Readers: Journey of a Pioneer by Patricia J. Murphy (ER) 

Daily Life in a Covered Wagon by Paul Erickson (EE) 

If You Were a Kid on the Oregon Trail by Josh Gregory (EE) 

What Was the Gold Rush? by Joan Holub (EE, UE) 

My Way West: Real Kids Traveling the Oregon and California Trails by Elizabeth Goss (UE)

The California Gold Rush by Mel Friedman (UE)

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party by Nathan Hale (UE)

Heading West: Life with the Pioneers, 21 Activities by Pat McCarthy (UE, MS) 


Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie: The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell, 1847 by Kristiana Gregory (MS) 

Gold Rush Girl by Avi (MS, HS) 

Bound for Oregon by Jean Van Leeuwen (MS, HS) 

The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck (HS) 


Lesson 3: Planning Your Homestead

Going West by Jean Van Leeuwen (PR)

The Little Pioneer by Adam Hancher (ER) 

You Wouldn’t Want to Be an American Pioneer! by Jacqueline Morley (EE) 

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (UE) 

The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill (UE)

The Quilt Walk by Sandra Dallas (UE, MS) 

On This Long Journey, the Journal of Jesse Smoke, a Cherokee Boy, the Trail of Tears, 1838 by Joseph Bruchac (MS) 

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson (HS) 

Lesson 4: The Matter of Water

A Little Prairie House by Laura Ingalls Wilder (PR)

National Geographic Readers: Water by Melissa Stewart (ER, EE)

Pioneer Days: Discover the Past with Fun Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes by David C. King (EE)

Enduring the Oregon Trail by Jessica Rusick (UE)

My Face to the Wind: the Diary of Sarah Jane Price, a Prairie Teacher, Broken Bow, Nebraska 1881 by Jim Murphy (MS)

Boston Jane by Jennifer L. Holm (HS)

Lesson 5: Clearing the Land

Dandelions by Eve Bunting (PR) 

The Josefina Story Quilt by Eleanor Coerr (ER)

A Kid’s Life During the Westward Expansion by Sarah Machajewski (EE)

Meet Kirsten by Janet Shaw (UE)

Renewable Energy: Discover the Fuel of the Future With 20 Projects by Joshua Sneiderman (UE, MS)

Frontier Living: An Illustrated Guide to Pioneer Life in America by Edwin Tunis (HS)

Lesson 6: Building a Home

How a House is Built by Gail Gibbons (PR)

Homes: From Then to Now by Carol Lawrence (ER)

How a Log Cabin is Built by Baby Professor (EE)

Sticks and Stones: A Kid’s Guide to Building and Exploring in the Great Outdoors by Melissa Lennig (UE)

Easy Carpentry Projects for Children by Jerome E. Leavitt (UE, MS)

Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park (HS)


Lesson 7: Winter is Coming!

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner (PR)

Winter Days in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (ER)

The Quilt-Block History of Pioneer Days: With Projects Kids Can Make by Mary Cobb (EE)

A Pioneer Sampler: The Daily Life of a Pioneer Family in 1840 by Barbara Greenwood (UE)

Diary of an Early American Boy by Eric Sloane (MS)

Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder (HS)

Lesson 8: Protection

The Year at Maple Hill Farm by Alice Provensen (PR)

Wagon Wheels by Barbara Brenner (ER)

Bears of Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dagliesh (EE)

If You Were Me and Lived in the American West by Carole P. Roman (UE)

The Bears of Blue River by Charles Major (MS)

Bonanza Girl by Patricia Beatty (HS)

Lesson 9: Baking

The Bread Pet: A Sourdough Story by Kate DePalma (PR)

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban (ER)

Canadian Flyer Adventures #6: Pioneer Kids by Frieda Wishinsky (EE)

The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories by Barbara M. Walker (UE)

Bread Baking for Beginners: The Essential Guide to Baking Kneaded Breads, No-Knead Breads, and Enriched Breads by Bonnie Ohara (MS)

A Family Raised on Sunshine by Beverly Nye (HS)


Lesson 10: Raising Livestock

Our Animal Friends by Alice and Martin Provensen (PR)

Cows Can Moo! Can You Too? by Bonnie Worth (ER)

National Geographic Readers: Farm Animals by Joanne Mattern (ER)

Cattle Kids: A Year on the Western Range by Cat Urbigkit (EE)

So, You Want to Work With Animals? by J. M. Bedell (UE)

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder (UE, MS)

How to Raise Cattle: Everything You Need to Know by Philip Hasheider (MS)

Stories from the Old Squire’s Farm by C. Stephens (HS)



Lesson 11: Planting a Garden

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner (PR)

National Geographic Readers: Seed to Plant by Kristin Rattini (ER)

Right This Very Minute by Lisl H. Detlefsen (EE)

Gardening for Kids: Learn, Grow, and Get Messy with Fun STEAM Projects by Brandy Stone (EE, ER)

Gardening with Emma: Grow and Have Fun: A Kid-to-Kid Guide by Emma Biggs and Steven Biggs (UE)

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder (MS)

Raised Bed Gardening for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know to Start and Sustain a Thriving Garden by Tammy Wylie (HS)


Lesson 12: The Matter of Food

From the Garden: A Counting Book About Growing Food by Michael Dahl (PR)

Tumbleweed Stew by Susan Stevens Crummel (ER)

A Little House Picture Book Treasury: Six Stories of Life on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (EE)

The Farm that Feeds US by Nancy Castaldo (UE)

Pioneer Recipes by Bobbie Kalman (MS)

Log Cabin Cooking: Pioneer Recipes & Food Lore by Barbara Swell (HS)


Lesson 13: What about Light? 

Bee: A Peek-Through Picture Book by Britta Teckentrup (PR)

National Geographic Readers: Bees by Laura Marsh (ER)

Day Light, Night Light: Where the Light Comes From by Dr. Franklyn M. Branley (EE)

Frontier Village: A Town is Born by Andy Chambers (UE)

Candle Making for Beginners by Ella Diamond (MS)

A Heart for Any Fate by Linda Crew (HS)


Lesson 14: Cleanliness

Tubby by Leslie Patricelli (PR)

My Community Long Ago by Bobbie Kalman (ER)

Babaroo the Alien Learns about Hygiene: A Funny Children's Book about Healthy Habits and Rules of Hygiene by Kate Melton (EE)

They’re Off!: The Pony Express by Cheryl Harness

Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm (MS)

The Virginian by Owen Wister (HS)


Lesson 15: Foraging

The Prairie that Nature Built by Marybeth Lorbiecki (PR)

National Geographic Readers: Plants by Kathryn Williams (ER)

Backyard Explorer: On the Nature Trail: What Will You Find? by Editors of Storey Publishing (EE)

A Walk in the Prairie by Rebecca L. Johnson (EE, UE)

Kirsten Saves the Day by Janet Shaw (UE)

The Quilt Walk by Sandra Dallas (MS)

Edible Wild Plants for Beginners: The Essential Edible Plants and Recipes to Get Started by Althea Press (MS, HS)

Eric Sloane’s Weather Book by Eric Sloane (HS)


Lesson 16: Clothing

Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski (PR)

From Sheep to Sweater by Robin Nelson (ER)

Where Did My Clothes Come From? by Christine Butterworth (ER, EE)

A Visual Dictionary of a Pioneer Community by Bobbie Kalman (EE)

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (UE)

The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman (MS)

Living in Pioneer Times by Shirley H. Baker (MS, HS)


Lesson 17: Having Fun

Sugar Snow (Little House Picture Book) by Laura Ingalls Wilder (PR)

Pioneer Bear: A True Story by Joan Sandin (ER)

A Little House Birthday by Laura Ingalls Wilder (EE)

Christmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (EE)

Schoolyard Games by Bobbie Kalman (EE, UE)

A Pioneer Christmas: Celebrating in the Backwoods in 1841 by Barbara Greenwood (UE)

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (MS)

The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky by Stephen Crane (HS)


Lesson 18: Preservation

Before We Eat: From Farm to Table by Pat Brisson (PR)

Summertime in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (PR)

Sam Likes Jam by Niki Morris (ER)

Acids and Bases by Baby Professor (EE)

Who Was Napoleon? By Jim Gigliotti (UE)

Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright (MS)

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judi Kingry (HS)



Lesson 19: Education

My Great Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston (PR)

Prairie School by Avi (ER)

One-Room School by Raymond Bial (EE)

The Secret School by Avi (UE)

A One-Room School by Bobbie Kalman (UE)

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (MS)

The Hoosier School-Master by Edward Eggleston (HS)



Lesson 20: Lifestyle

Pioneer Life from A to Z by Bobbie Kalman (PR)

Pioneer Projects by Bobbie Kalman (ER)

A Child’s Day by Bobbie Kalman (ER, EE)

Nothing Here But Trees (EE) by Jean Van Leeuwen

A Visual Dictionary of a Pioneer Community by Bobbie Kalman (UE)

A Pioneer Farm Girl: The Diary of Sarah Gillespie, 1877–1878 by Sarah Gillespie (UE, MS)

Prairie Songs by Pam Conrad (MS)

Wondrous Times on the Frontier: America During the 1800s by Dee Brown (HS)


Living Off the Land Resources Page

Lesson 1: Preparing for Your Journey

Teacher’s Guide:

Some of the most important things needed for a trip west:

Part 1, Covered Wagon (2 mins.): https://youtu.be/rFIrybC-GX4

Part 2, Oxen (4 mins.): https://youtu.be/psOBk77eTI0


Lesson 2: On the Trail

Teacher’s Guide:

Here is a video showing what it was like traveling on the Oregon Trail (3 mins.): 



Student Books, High School:

Read about the controversy surrounding a popular curriculum:



Lesson 3: Planning your Homestead

Teacher’s Guide: 

Watch this video to see how one person planned out their modern homestead (6 mins.): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJ9kKNX39ok


Lesson 4: The Matter of Water

Teacher’s Guide:

Here is a quick video that shows how to make your own distilled water (2 mins.): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9crxY3WEgQ


Student Books, all levels: 

Learn how to make your own water filter in this video (3 mins.):



Lesson 5: Clearing the Land

Teacher’s Guide: 

This is a video that shows how homesteaders cleared land 250 years ago (12 mins.): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaD7t1Uj_d4 

Lesson 6: Building a Home 

Teacher’s Guide:

This video demonstrates building a log cabin with pioneer tools (15 mins.):



Lesson 7: Winter is Coming!

Teacher’s Guide:

Here is a video to show what winter food storage on the the frontier was like (9 mins.):



Student Books, High School:

This video explains water expansion (3 mins.): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4GCShGvw-M 


This video shows water causing a pipe to burst (3 mins.):



Lesson 8: Protection

Teacher’s Guide:

This is a video on the Flintlock Fowler used by pioneers (11 mins.):



Student Books, Early Reader–Upper Elementary:

Here is a video on the chemistry of fireworks (7 mins.):



Lesson 9: Baking

Teacher’s Guide:

This is a video on baking with a bake-kettle (Dutch oven) like the pioneers used (10 mins.):



Student Books, all levels:

Watch this demonstration on making a sourdough starter (2 mins.):


Lesson 10: Raising Livestock

Teacher’s Guide:

This video shows a glimpse of what it is like to raise livestock on a modern-day homestead (7 mins.): https://youtu.be/-8OrvLeUVl4

Here is a video that discusses the different uses of chickens on a pioneer homestead (1 min.):



Student Books, all levels:

Watch the process of milking a cow in the pioneer days (2 mins.): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llj6S-Oap5I 


Lesson 11: Planting a Garden

Teacher’s Guide:

Here is a video that explains how a kitchen garden was used (1 min.): https://youtu.be/RHFUwsBY_Os


Student Books, all levels:

Here is an example and explanation of seed dissection (4 mins.): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgSzn-RJ3Zg 


Here is a time-lapse video showing a bean sprouting (3 mins.):



Lesson 12: The Matter of Food

Teacher’s Guide:

Watch reenactors try to make and eat food like a pioneer (13 mins.): https://youtu.be/6bEZrN1OJEM


Student Books, Early Reader–Upper Elementary:

Here is a carbonation experiment video (3 mins.): 



Student Books, Middle School–High School:

This is a video showing an experiment using carbonation (2 mins.): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFCeV5BVBh0 

Lesson 13: What about Light?

Teacher’s Guide:

A history and demonstration video of candle making in the 19th century (10 mins.):



Student Books, Early Reader–Upper Elementary:

Learn more about how candles burn in this short video (3mins.): https://www.britannica.com/video/187032/candle-flames 


Lesson 14: Cleanliness

Teacher’s Guide:

This is a video that shows what washing laundry was like for pioneers (8 mins.):



Student Books, Early Reader–Middle School :

Here is a video on how to make your own toothbrush (1 min.):



Lesson 15: Foraging

Teacher’s Guide:

You can read an original copy of The Emigrant’s Guide to Oregon and California here:



Lesson 16: Clothing

Teacher’s Guide:

This video demonstrates the process of turning flax into linen thread (2 mins.):


This video demonstrates spinning and handweaving linen thread (7 mins.):


Lesson 17: Having Fun

Teacher’s Guide:

Here is a list of jump rope rhymes:


This video shows how to play the string game, “Cat’s Cradle” (5 mins.): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpHTPnrYLzQ


Lesson 18: Preservation

Teacher’s Guide:

Learn how Indigenous Peoples of North America preserved food in this video (3 mins.): https://youtu.be/b36_-sgzh1g


Student Books, Middle School–High School:

This is a quick video that shows the pH testing of common household substances (3 mins.): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1HLygnUFEY 

Lesson 19: Education

Teacher’s Guide:

Here is a reenactment of an interview of a typical pioneer one-room school master (5 mins.): https://youtu.be/8aWyT_H2WuA

Lesson 20: Lifestyle

Teacher’s Guide:

This is a video showing a day in the life of a pioneer family (15 mins.):