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At the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove, There’s Something for Everyone

Although the Ingalls family only lived in Walnut Grove for three years (on two different occasions — 1874–1876 and 1878–1879), the town has a strong connection to Laura and the Little House books because of its prominence in the TV series “Little House on the Prairie.” As we drove into the center of town, signs connecting the location to Laura abound, announcing “Walnut Grove, Childhood Home of Pioneer Author Laura Ingalls Wilder,” “Nellie’s Café” and “Ingalls Street.” But our first stop in Walnut Grove is dedicated to a thorough exploration of the

Little Sod House on the Prairie

Rachael in a poke bonnet

If we followed the Ingalls’ journey according to the Little House series, after we left the Big Woods in Wisconsin, our next stop should be Independence, Kansas. Given that Independence is more than 600 miles from Pepin and Walnut Grove, Minnesota, is less than 200 miles, the banks of Plum Creek is where we headed next.

Little House in the Formerly Big Woods

When readers first meet Laura in Little House in the Big Woods, she’s a little girl living with her Pa, Ma, older sister Mary and baby sister Carrie. The real Laura Ingalls was born in a little house deep in the forests surrounding Pepin, Wisconsin, on February 7, 1867. Since Pepin is Laura’s birthplace and the setting of her first book, this village along the Mississippi River seemed like the place to visit first.

Strong words, strong women

There have always been strong women although we haven't always known a lot about them.

The availability of Information about women and their impact has come a long way since the first celebration of Women’s History Week. In 1987, that week was changed permanently into a month-long celebration.

Books for children and youth are catching up, too, with more and more publications about women and their achievements.

Learning from graphics

There's real value in spending instructional time helping kids decipher the information found in graphic form. Textbooks, nonfiction books, and magazines are chock full of diagrams, tables, charts, and graphs. Visual information used to be limited to bold words and captioned pictures, but nowadays infographics, maps, and interactive tools carry a lot of the content weight within a piece of text. Successfully navigating these graphics, especially in STEM and content-area subjects, will lead to greater comprehension.

Getting mind and body ready for school

It's a fact. Good nutrition leads to healthy bodies and to healthy minds — minds and bodies that are ready to learn (and grow and play and do everything else that children do).

All schools seem to be moving toward more healthful lunch and snack choices. Some schools use the notion of healthy food in ways to support the curriculum while building community. Last year, about 80 schools in Washington, D.C. had school gardens.

Books just in time for vacation

The weather says it is definitely summertime — often travel or vacation time.

Lots of families will take road trips; many will visit some of the wonderful national parks across the country. And a great time it is, too; after all, July is Park and Recreation Month.

In addition to summer pleasure reading, two recent books are must-haves on these excursions.

The power of story

A friend and colleague was telling me recently about a project that her son was working on and the power of a book they shared had on his thinking.

Using primary sources in the classroom

Primary sources are finding their way into elementary classrooms. This is so exciting — students usually love to work with primary sources because they provide such an inside view into a time period or event. "Mom! It was a REAL picture of a REAL bank robber!" Primary sources, or original materials, are often artifacts such as pottery and clothing, or documents such as diaries, speeches, letters and photographs.

Questions and answers about the Common Core

There are lots of questions out there about implementing the Common Core State Standards. Over at Shanahan on Literacy, Professor Tim Shanahan has posted the questions and answers from a recent webinar he did on the Common Core. I recommend hopping over there to scroll through the whole post — I suspect many of you are asking the same questions as these webinar participants!

Among the topics covered:

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"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." — Emilie Buchwald