A WebQuest for Grades 3 - 4, WebQuest Agricultural Series by Missouri Farm Bureau and Missouri State University

In the book Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Ingalls family had to create unusual solutions for the problems they faced at their new home in De Smet, South Dakota. One of the first problems they faced were mice. The mice were everywhere. They even took some of Pa's hair off his head to make a nest!

The next problem to face Laura and her family were the gophers. The gophers were eating all their seed corn that Pa had planted, which they needed for food and money. How were they going to deal with these pests?

In the chapter "The Necessary Cat", Pa saves the day by bringing home an adorable little kitten. But how will this kitten help the Ingalls?


Students will:
  • research food chains
  • create two food chains from the information given in "The Necessary Cat" chapter
  • identify producers, consumers and decomposers of each food chain
  • identify each organism as predator or prey within each the food chain
  • identify each organism as a herbivore, omnivore, or carnivore
  • speculate on the possible effects to the Ingalls family if one organism had been removed from one of the food chains


Read the chapter "The Necessary Cat" in the book Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Ask yourself what problems the Ingalls family had with pests in this chapter.

Print off the Food Chain Notes worksheet. Using your science book and the following website, PlanetPals, complete this worksheet showing definitions and examples of the terms listed.

Visit the website Food Chains and Webs. Create a possible food chain at this site using what you have learned about herbivores and omnivores from this site. Also, play the Chain Reaction Activity game to see what happens in a food chain when one organism is removed.

Now it is your turn to create a food chain of your own! Go to "The Necessary Cat" Food Chain page and complete the activity.


The Ingalls family had a lot of problems that they had to overcome because they were the first to settle their land on the claim. By being willing to work hard and think creatively, they were able to solve many of their problems with simple solutions--like by getting a cat! These creative and simple solutions made their life on the claim easier and more successful, so we are able to read about their stories today. So, think about it. The next time you have a problem, try to think of a creative way to deal with it. A creative and simple solution just might be the best.


Students will be evaluated on the following:
  • Completion of the Food Chain Notes
  • Four food chain diagrams showing the correct sequence and the correct labeling
  • Two written paragraphs on the effect of the cat (before and after) on the lives of Ingalls family


This WebQuest was created by teachers participating in Missouri's Agriculture in the Classroom program at Missouri State University through a USDA grant. The template on this site was adapted from a template from The WebQuest Page and the original was designed by Dr. Lyndon Irwin. Assistance for this project was provided by Mrs. Barbara Irwin, M.S. and Mrs. Diane Olson, M.S.

Teachers are encouraged to adapt this lesson for classroom use only. No part of this publication may be transmitted, stored, recorded or published in any form without written permission from Missouri Farm Bureau.

This page was developed by Samantha McMaster Warren, reviewed by Lyndon and the late Barbara Irwin and is maintained by Missouri Farm Bureau. Please address questions to Diane Olson at Missouri Farm Bureau.