Moving to "The Land of the Big Red Apple"
A  Social Studies WebQuest for Grades 4-5, WebQuest Agricultural Series by Missouri Farm Bureau and Missouri State University


Laura and Almanzo Wilder were tired of hard winters, droughts and failing crops in the northern states.  So in July, 1894, Laura, Almanzo and eight-year old Rose Wilder, packed up a covered wagon with all of their belongings and left De Smet, South Dakota, and headed toward southern Missouri.  As they moved south they were in search of a new home where they could farm and make a good living for their family.  Laura studied the land and agricultural possibilities as they traveled in a covered wagon across several states toward their goal of Mansfield, Missouri, The Land of the Big Red Apple.  She recorded her observations in a diary.  The story of Almanzo and Laura's journey can be read in Laura's book On The Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894.

Learn about the things that Laura, Almanzo and Rose saw on their journey from South Dakota to Missouri. They left their home in DeSmet, South Dakota on July 17, 1894.

Laura noted the large grain elevators as she and Almanzo travelled through Nebraska and Kansas.  Grain Elevators have sometimes been called Prairie Skyscrapers and are where grain is stored. 

In Kansas the Wilder family saw cornfields as far as the eye could see.  On August 17, they even saw a large field of castor beans south of Ottawa, Kansas.  Laura also noted the large crop of wheat.

As Laura and Almanzo crossed into western Missouri, near the towns of Pedro and Liberal, they learned that Missouri had prairies.  As they approached Mansfield, their future home, they were impressed by the beautiful orchards of apples and cherries. Soon, they knew that they had found their new home.

1. Answer these questions about some of the agricultural crops that the Wilder's saw during their trip.

2.  Laura Ingalls Wilder recorded the things that she saw in her diary.  What if little Rose Wilder had kept a diary?  Select a day from Laura's diary and re-write it as though her eight year old daughter had written it.  Do you think they would have written the same things?  Do you think Rose would have thought other things were more important?

3.  Think about the route that the Wilder's took by completing this map activity.

4.  Prepare a chart that includes the six kinds of wheat that are grown in the United States.

Congratulations on completing this web quest.  Now you understand the hardships of travel 100 years ago and also know more about many of the crops that Laura saw as their covered wagon moved her family.


Assignment Yes No Points possible Points earned Comments
Crop Questions


Rose's Journal


Map Activity


Wheat Chart








Midwest Regional Map

Corn Belt Map

Bushel of corn

Kinds of wheat

Apple varieties

Outline of Laura's Diary


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 Dr. Lyndon Irwin, 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