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Sarah Plain and Tall

Sarah, Plain and Tall

Author: Patricia MacLachlan


Unit Designed by Ginger A.


This unit has been created for use in 4th grade. It can easily be adapted for use in 3rd or 5th grades. The skills listed are commonly found on 4th grade scope and sequence charts and 4th grade curriculum guides.


Reading Skills


1. Singular and Plural

Keep a list of all plants and animals mentioned. Change the singular words to plural.


2. Alphabetize

Write all the plants and animals in alphabetical order.


3. Comprehension

Create a set of paper dolls based on this book. Use the dolls to retell the story.

[ has numerous paper doll sites. Susie’s Stuff has a 1910 paper doll named Eliza that can be colored]


4. Spelling

Choose 10-15 words from the plant and animal list to use for spelling. Design a word search puzzle using graph paper. Exchange papers and solve the puzzles. [If this is done in a home school, mom needs to make a puzzle. The student should practice writing and identifying the spelling words]


5. Vocabulary

Discuss the meaning of the vocabulary words. Students can practice using the dictionary, but copying the definitions isn’t necessary.

Create a crossword puzzle using graph paper. Check for understanding by reading the sentences the student wrote for the puzzle.


Vocabulary List

  1. hearthstones
  2. prairie
  3. insult
  4. dune
  5. mica
  6. stubbornly
  7. pungent
  8. squall
  9. hailstones
  10. eerie

English Skills


1. Friendly Letters

Study Sarah’s letters. Write a friendly letter. It is important that this be a real letter .This age group doesn’t care to write pretend letters. The teacher should address an envelope correctly to serve as a model. Mail the letter.


2. Address Book

Write the names and addresses of a few friends to begin an address book. This is a very pleasing activity for most children.


3. Business

Read an advertisement from your local newspaper. Follow the guidelines in your newspaper to write an ad for something you wish to purchase. Figure the cost based on the number of words.


4. Common and Proper Nouns, Pronouns, Verbs

Review these parts of speech. Find all of these in one sentence.



Math Skills


1. Consumer Math

Answer the following questions.


What is the approximate mileage from Maine to Kansas?

What information would you need in order to calculate the gas cost from Maine to Kansas?


2. Write 1and 2 step word problems.


3. Solve 1 and 2 step word problems.


Note: the objective is to write and solve word problems, not to solve difficult arithmetic problems


1 Step Word Problems


1. Sarah bought a sketchbook for .25, an apple for .03, and a pencil for .05.What is the total cost of Sarah’s purchases?


2. Jacob owns 20 sheep. He will buy 6 more after the harvest. If all his sheep live, how many sheep will Jacob own after the harvest?



2 Step Word Problems


1 .Sarah bought a spool of thread for .10, a sack of flour for $2.00, and .25 worth of hard candy. How much change will she receive from $5.00?


2. Anna has saved .85. Caleb has saved .75. If they buy a harmonica that costs $1.20, how much money will they have left?


3. Elapsed Time

Make a loaf of homemade bread, start to finish [no bread machine] Record the following times in your math notebook.


1. Time bread making process begins.

2. Time mixing process ends/ kneading begins

3. Time kneading process ends/ rising begins

4. Time rising process ends

5. Time dough is placed in oven

6 .Time baking process ends

[You may need to adjust this depending on your recipe]


Use your notebook to answer the following questions.


1 .How long did the entire process last?

2. How much time was spent working? [mixing, measuring, kneading]

3. How long did the bread rise?

4. How long was the bread in the oven?



Do you think a bread machine would be faster?


Repeat this process using a bread machine. Compare the times. Is the overall process faster or slower?


Some Ideas to Ponder


Did you have fun making homemade bread? Was it work? Can work be fun? Are modern conveniences sometimes helpful? Did you enjoy using the bread machine?


“When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.” Psalm 128:2    NKJV


Nature Study/ Science


1. Define the terms Flora and Fauna.


2. Plant marigolds and zinnias. Observe plant growth. Explain conditions necessary for plant to develop.


3. Discuss conservation of water and drought conditions.


Use this list of plants and animals to begin your nature study.




Indian Paintbrush


Prairie violets

Bride’s Bonnet

Seaside Goldenrod

Wild asters

Wooly ragwort



Wild feverfew






Note: The flowers would make a very interesting study. Here is some information to get you started.




Violets-used to decorate desserts, can be added to salads, and fruity drinks, subtle flavor, people used to make a tea from violets, violet water can be used in baking


Nasturtiums- leaves or flowers can be used in salads and sandwiches, peppery taste


Tansy-can be chopped and used in baking and in egg dishes, in earlier times was used as a home remedy but is not recommended today


Feverfew-once was used to reduce fever and for headaches, camphor smell and taste


Common Dyes


Seaside Goldenrod






Sea bass

Blue fish


Sea birds








Turkey buzzard



1 Research

Read extra information on one plant or animal. Write a paragraph (5 sentences) about the plant/ animal. Draw or paint a detailed picture, be sure to include the common and scientific name (Watercolor pencils are especially nice for this type of activity; a child this age can control these and add detail without ruining the picture).


If a paragraph is too much writing add a caption to the picture.


2. Classification

Classify the animals. The student should tell his reason for placing animals together. Use the terms vertebrate, mammals, etc. in talking with your student.




Listen to some Folk Songs and then to a piece of Classical music. Discuss how the music sounds different. Why does it sound different? Why is Folk Music called the “people’s music”?

Listen to some hymns. How are hymns different from Folk Songs and Classical music? How are they similar?


Learn to sing a Folk Song [Billy Boy or Aunt Rhody] and a Hymn [Happy the Home by Henry Ware the younger]




Invitation by Myra Cohn Livingston


This is a poem about a new mother joining a family.


Listen! I've a big surprise!
My new mom has light-green eyes
And my brother, almost ten,
is really smart. He helped me when
we did our homework. They moved in
a week ago. When we begin
to settle down.,she said that you
could come for dinner. When you do
you'll like them, just like Dad and me,
so come and meet my family.
               Myra Cohn Livingston


Arts/ Crafts


1. Pointillist Painting

Lightly draw a picture of a farm scene as you imagine it .Fill the picture with color using Q-tips dipped into the appropriate paint color and dabbed onto the picture. Some white spaces should show. Let the picture dry then add more dots to outline your picture.


Social Studies


1. Compare Past and Present


What is the time period for Sarah, Plain and Tall?

What are the differences between then and now?

What things have stayed the same?

Do you think our modern way of life is better?

Look at clothing styles for the early 1900’s. Especially notice the difference in women’s and children’s clothing styles. Which do you prefer? [ lists historical paper doll sites –some of the other paper dolls are very mature Barbie type dolls so parents will need to check the site I have by no means viewed everything!!!]

How would a trip today be different from Sarah’s trip?




1. Map Skills


Plan a route from Maine to Kansas using a U.S. Highway map.

How many states did you cross?

Are there any changes in terrain?

Are there any mountains, rivers etc. on your route?


Bible Lessons


Anna and Caleb are hardworking and helpful. Their father has taught them well. The Bible teaches that we need time to work, play and rest. Most of us understand rest and play here is a verse to help us in our work.

“It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth” Lamentations 3:27




Compare the Hallmark film version of Sarah, Plain and Tall to the book. Notice the way that Anna and Jacob are portrayed. Their role in the movie is quite different from the book.

For hands-on fun, try the Sarah, Plan, and Tall Learn N' Folder from Live & Learn Press