Moving to "The Land of the Big Red Apple" 

Teacher's Page


A  Social Studies WebQuest for Grades 4-5, WebQuest Agricultural Series by Missouri Farm Bureau and 
Southwest Missouri State University

"The Land of the Big Red Apple" refers to the area around Mansfield, Missouri, the place that Laura and Almanzo Wilder were hoping to settle. They had had enough of the hard winters and droughts in the northern states. So in July 1894, Almanzo, Laura and eight-year-old Rose Wilder left De Smet, South Dakota heading south through Nebraska and Kansas toward southern Missouri. Laura Ingalls Wilder kept a careful diary detailing the day-to-day observations as she, Almanzo and Rose traveled by Covered Wagon from South Dakota to Missouri. This later became the basis of the book, On the Way Home. In this WebQuest, students are challenged to travel (on the internet) the route that the Wilder's followed from South Dakota to Missouri. Students are encouraged to learn about some of the towns along the way and more importantly learn about the crops and animals that Laura noticed during the journey. Teachers may wish to help the students understand why Laura paid so much attention to agriculture. Of course, Laura and Almanzo intended to farm once they reached "The Land of the Big Red Apple", so it is no surprise that Laura made many agricultural observations. The Wilder's were looking for opportunities for their future farm and were not yet certain that Missouri was where they would stay. We now know that Missouri is where they stayed for the rest of their lives. In fact, it was where Laura wrote all of her books that children everywhere have enjoyed for so many years.

Answers to the eight study questions:

  1. Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas Kentucky. (IA, IL, NE, MN, IN, OH, WI, SD, MI, MO, KS, KY)
  2. Castor beans were grown for the terrible tasting medicine, Castor Oil.
  3. 2 - 8 feet tall
  4. Farmers take their grain to a grain elevator at harvest or whenever they wish to sell it. Some grain elevators are also used for storage of grain.
  5. Grain was originally moved primarily in rail cars, so elevators were built beside the tracks. Today there are fewer rail lines, so much movement of grain is by truck or barge but most grain elevators are still beside the tracks (or where the tracks used to be)
  6. Various prairie grasses and prairie flowers
  7. Students should find an example of each color from the web page: Apple varieties or from another site.
  8. Sweet and Sour are the main two general categories of cherries.
  9. Cherry shakers shake the cherries off the tree onto a tarp

Teachers may want to introduce students to the map functions at This can be used by a student to get the mileage. Or teachers may prefer to have the students measure the mileage from maps that are already in the classroom.

  1. Students will find that the trip from DeSmet to Mansfield is between 700 and 750 miles. There is no exact answer because the mileage depends on the route selected. If one measures the mileage on a straight line, the answer may be closer to 650 miles. However the Wilder's did not take a straight line route.
  2. The trip took 39 days.
  3. So this meant that they traveled 17 - 19 miles per day.
  4. Driving at 60 miles per hour would take 12 or 13 hours.
  5. Flying would take a little over 2 hours.

Missouri's Grade-Level Expectations (GLEs)



1 Develop and apply skills and strategies to the reading process

E Vocabulary

Develop vocabulary by listening to and discussing unknown words in stories (ST: CA 2, 3 1.5, 1.6) (FR: I 6d, 1e, K-4)

Develop vocabulary through text, using, context clues, glossary and dictionary (ST: CA 2, 3 1.5, 1.6) (FR: I 6d, 1e, K-4)

H Apply post-reading skills to comprehend text, question to clarify, reflect, analyze, draw conclusions, summarize, and paraphrase (ST: CA 2, 3 1.6 & 3.5) (FR: I 1e,3g,4e & f, II 1c,d,f & h, 2d K-4)

Apply post-reading skills to identify the main idea and supporting details, question to clarify, reflect, summarize, paraphrase (ST: CA 2, 3 1.6 & 3.5)

(FR: I 1e,3g,4e & f, II 1c,d,f & h, 2d K-4)

I Making Connections

Identify and explain connections between text ideas -- information and relationships in various fiction and non-fiction works, text ideas and own experiences, text ideas and the world by demonstrating an awareness that literature reflects a culture and historic time frame (CA: 2,3,7, (FR: I 1d,3a,4c,d & h, 5a-d,6c, II 1j, K-4)

3 Develop and apply skills and strategies to comprehend, analyze and evaluate nonfiction from a variety of cultures and times.

A Text Features

Apply information in illustrations, title, chapter headings, table of contents, glossary, charts, diagrams, graphs, glossary, captions and maps to comprehend text

(CA: 3 1.5,1.6) (FR: I 5e, IV 3c, K-4)

C Text Elements

Use details from text to organize a sequence of events, identify cause and effects, draw conclusions, make predictions, make inferences (CA: 3 1.6,2.4,3.1,3.5) (FR: I 3c,II 1d, III 2e-f, 3a, K-4)


1 Apply a writing process in composing text

A Writing Process

Follow a writing process to independently use a simple graphic organizer in prewriting (CA: 1,4, 1.8,2.1,2.2) (FR: II 1a,2e,3c,4c-e,gh,&j, III 4c, IV 3a, K-4)


2a Knowledge of continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world

A Knowledge of the ways Missourians have interacted, survived and progressed from the distant past to present times

Summarize the Events in westward expansion, including people's motivation, their hardships and Missouri as a jumping-off point to the West

(CA: 1.10, 2.1, 4.1 K-4)

B Economic decision-making


Interpret past, explain present and predict future consequences of economic decision (decisions made by consumers and decisions pertaining to the environment)


(CA 1.6, 1.10,2.1,3.8, K-4)


5 Elements of Geographical Study and Analysis


B(2) Geography of Missouri and the United States: Location


Identify and locate the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers


Identify the states bordering Missouri


7 Knowledge of the use of tools of social science inquiry


A1 Identify, select, use and create appropriate resources for social science inquiry


Identify, select and use visual, graphic and auditory aids


Use and evaluate primary and secondary sources (diaries, letters, people, interviews, journals and photos)


B2 Create maps, timelines, diagrams and cartoons


Create maps, timelines, diagrams and cartoons to enhance studies in civics, history, economics and geography


Numbers and Operations

3 Compute fluently and make reasonable estimates

B Develop and demonstrate fluency

Demonstrate fluency with basic number relationships of multiplication and division (MA: 1, 1.6) (FR: V. 4e, K-4)

Geometric and Spatial Relationships

2 Specify locations and describe spatial relationships using coordinate geometry and other representational systems

A Use coordinate systems

Describe movement using common language and geometric vocabulary (back, forward, left, right, north, south, east, west) (MA: 2, 1.6 1.8) (VI. e K-4)

This WebQuest should also help students accomplish the following National Standards:

National Education Standards

Language Arts (Evaluating Data)

  • Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g. print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suite their purpose and audience.

Language Arts (Applying Language Skills)

  • Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information.

Social Studies (History of Student's Own State or Region)

  • Understands the people, events, problems, and ideas that were significant in creating the history of their state or region.

Social Studies (The History of the U.S.: Democratic Principals and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage)

  • Understands the causes and nature of movements of large groups of people into and within the United States, now and long ago


  • The Characteristics, Distribution, and Migration of Human Population on Earth’s Surface
  • How to Use Maps and Other Geographic Representations, Tools, and Technologies to Acquire, Process, and Report Information From a Spatial Perspective
  • How to Use Mental Maps to Organize Information About People, Places, and Environments in a Spatial Context
  • The Physical and Human Characteristics of Places


  • Students use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences.
  • Students use technology to locate, evaluate and collect information from a variety of sources.
  • Students use technology tools to process data and report results.
  • Students evaluate and select new information resources and technological innovations based on the appropriateness for specific tasks.
  • Students use technology resources for solving problems and making informed decisions.


Science: Strand 7, Sec. 1
Language Arts: Writing Sec. 3

Go Back


This page was developed by 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.