Educator Resources

Educator Resources on Little Women & The Civil War

Little Women (or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy) is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888). Written and set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts, it was published in two parts in 1868 and 1869. The novel follows the lives of four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March—and is loosely based on the author’s childhood experiences with her three sisters. The first part of the book was an immediate commercial and critical success and prompted the composition of the book’s second part, also a huge success. Both parts were first published as a single volume in 1880. Alcott followed Little Women with two sequels reprising the March sisters, Little Men (1871) and Jo’s Boys (1886). Little Women has been adapted to play, musical, opera, film, and animated feature.

Louisa May Alcott’s novel, Little Women, can be read online.  Find it here.

Links to Lesson Plans and Study Guides

Download the study guide from the original production of the Broadway musical.  Pick and choose from lesson plans including “Preparation for Little Women,” “The Joys of Song,” “Love and Loyalty,” and more.

This year, 2009, is the 200th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.  The Wisconsin Lincoln Bicentennial Commission has compiled a list of teacher resources including materials from The Lincoln Institute, the national Lincoln Bicentennail Commission, and information on Abraham Lincoln and Wisconsin.  Click on any of these links to be taken to Lincoln and Civil War lesson plans.

Follow the Civil War experience of the Slagg Family of Wisconsin.  Margaret Slagg, Henry’s youngest daughter, saved the letters written to her by her brothers serving in the Union army, as did Arnold and Joseph’s other siblings. Records obtained from the National Archives, entries in the War of the Rebellion Records, and information from other sources all combine to paint a vivid and captivating picture of those trying years.

The Kennedy Center produced a wonderful Little Women study guide for Grades 5-8 for a Little Women project.  In addition they developed several lesson plans through their nationally known ArtsEdge program.

  • Dressing Up: In four class periods, students research the clothing of the 1860s and the process of wearing those items
  • Acting Up, A Melodrama:  In four class periods, students learn about melodrama through an exploration of Jo’s stories.

The Wisconsin Historical Society recently posted an online archive of private letters between Laura Ingalls Wilder’s her mother and family members, who were soliders during the Civil War, include firsthand descriptions from the front as well as stories of homelife during this turbulent time in our history.  The Society also has a number of lesson plans about the Civil War Era available for elementary and secondary school educators including “Wisconsin and the Civil War,” “Letters from the Past,” and “The Family of Laura Ingalls Wilder faces the Civil War.

The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial – 2009

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln, which provides a wonderful opportunity for cast, crew, and audience members to learn more about the Civil War Era.

Visit the Wisconsin Veterans Museum on the capitol square in downtown Madison to learn more about the life of a Civil War soldier. Open Monday through Saturday year round and Sundays from April through September this free museum features a series of full installations commemorating the roles of Wisconsin soldiers across the decades as well as rotating special exhibits.

The 1st Brigade Band, a Civil War era brass band, will be featured in a series of events across southern Wisconsin.  In addition, their recordings will be featured as the preshow and postshow music at all performances of Little Women.   On Saturday, November 7 they will hold their 22nd Annual Harvest Ball in Racine, Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Historical Society has also created an online archive of Laura Ingalls Wilder Family Letters. Private letters between her mother and her brothers, who were soliders during the Civil War, include firsthand descriptions from the front as well as stories of homelife during this turbulent time in our history.