Program Descriptions

Call SchoolPrograms are flexible and can be tailored to your needs. I can speak as a modern day researcher or costumed as Laura Ingalls Wilder herself as a young 1890s version or as an older 1930s version (depending on the program).

For programs labeled as PowerPoint Presentation, the hosting site must provide an indoor location with electricity and a wall or screen to project against. If you don’t have a projection system, I can also bring my own laptop and projector to run the program.

For programs labeled Interactive, while ALL my programs are interactive including those that use PowerPoint, the ones marked as Interactive use interaction with objects as the main form of sharing information.

Also, check out my brochure.



Available programs include:

General Laura Program aka A Long Way Home (PowerPoint Presentation)

This basic Laura Ingalls Wilder program gives a general overview of Wilder’s life. It features photos taken at all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder homesites and museums. It is a good choice for any age group. This program offers the most information about Wilder’s life. As it is a favorite, it is constantly being updated with new photos and facts. It can be presented several different ways. I can present it either as myself or as an older version of Laura. Presenting as myself allows me to add insider stories. If you’d like this program presented as Laura, I present it as an older Laura in 1931 when after receiving a second batch of rejections for her book she’s asked to rewrite what will ultimately become Little House in the Big Woods yet again. She tells the story of her life to her neighbors to see if they think the story is worth her rewriting her book one more time.
Find a more detailed description here.

I did a version of this presentation at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library. I’ve done a major update since I presented this version. See the older version below.

Packing Up (Interactive, Available With or Without PowerPoint Presentation)

This twist on Wilder’s life has us looking in on Wilder as she is packing up to move to Mansfield, Missouri. Wilder has moved around a lot in life and collected a lot of experiences. As she is getting ready to leave De Smet, South Dakota for the last time, she is going through an old trunk to see if there is anything that can be left behind. Each artifact (Tin Punch Lantern, Rag doll, etc.) in the old trunk holds a story, one story for each of the places that Wilder lived. These stories are bridged with information about Laura’s life. Young Laura of 1894 must present this program. However, it can be presented either with or without PowerPoint. The photos add to it, but it is a good choice for if you need a program to be presented outside or anyplace where projection won’t work well. The storytelling aspect makes it a great choice for younger audiences, but is still appropriate for any age. Find a more detailed description.

In the Kitchen With Laura (An Interactive Presentation)

Every year I introduce a new program, a new way to tell the life story of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’m especially pleased with this year’s program that has a completely different take. It mixes stories and information about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life with food history and hands on cooking. It’s the 1930s and we find ourselves in Laura’s kitchen as she’s dealing with all the food coming in from a bountiful summer garden.
During the program I bring volunteers on stage to do things like:
• Mix up a batch of biscuits
• Make ginger water
• Dry Plums
• And more (some seasonal considerations will determine other activities)
Afterward everybody can try some of the ginger water. It’s been a big hit.
This program is all interactive, no PowerPoint, and all you have to supply is a table and 2 quarts of water.

Laura Ingalls Wilder: What a DOLL! (PowerPoint Presentation)

Dolls played a small part in Wilder’s books, but play an important role in the fandom that has grown up around them. Once we review the basic information about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life, we examine through photos the history of the different dolls created in the likeness of Laura Ingalls Wilder or created as souvenirs for her fans. Which dolls do you need for your collection? Among the dolls pictured will be a collection of Charlotte Replicas from 1966 to 2012, the handmade Walnut Grove dolls made by one woman from 1975 to 2007, the Ashton Drake collectible dolls, the famous character dolls Laura describes in the only known recording of her voice, and even a set of life size dolls that used to grace the parlor of the Masters Hotel in Burr Oak, Iowa. I appear in a costume matching the only Laura doll so far created as “old” Laura and I bring that doll along.

Laura’s Life in Mansfield (PowerPoint Presentation)

This in-depth program answers the question “What happened next?” and picks up Laura’s story after her books leave her and Almanzo (Manly) happily married in De Smet, South Dakota. It will briefly address how they ended up in Mansfield, Missouri. Then it examines Wilder’s roles as farmwife, businesswoman, beginning writer, and famous author. It assumes the audience will have a little background information on Laura’s early years before the program since it focuses on Laura’s later life.

Following in Laura’s Footsteps (PowerPoint Presentation)

Thinking about taking a Laura Ingalls Wilder trip? Want the inside scoop? Having visited the Wilder sites multiple times, in this program I give you the inside information about what there is to see at the main Wilder sites and the best way to see it. I help you prep for the trip and give you a series of questions to help you decide what type of Laura trip would work best for you. I also answer specific questions, like where should you stay and where you can eat. Included is a handout with more information.

A Visit With Laura (Interactive, No PowerPoint)

Have an interactive visit with Laura using questions culled from actual letters written to her. Before the program starts questions are distributed to audience members who, after a brief opening statement from “Laura,” ask her questions. Time is allotted for actual audience questions at the end of the program.

What’s My Story? (Storytelling)

Who doesn’t like a good story? This session shares some stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life and other historic stories poems, and riddles. The program set up requires a table up front that is set with a variety of objects (bird’s nest, stuffed badger, color changing bear, etc.). Each object has a story, poem, or riddle attached. Audience members are invited to pick an object from the table and hear its story. Depending on the size and the layout of the audience there are lots of opportunities for everyone to take part. This program appeals to all ages.
Find a more detailed description.

Stories from Pa’s Big Green Animal Book (Storytelling)

Similar in format to the “What’s My Story” session (table, objects, etc.), this specialized storytelling session focuses on historic animal stories. These stories come from Laura’s life and other historic animal tales. Also, a copy of Polar and Tropical Worlds (Pa’s Big Green Animal Book as identified by William T. Anderson) will be brought along for everyone to see.

Writing Isn’t Perfect: Lessons from Laura Ingalls Wilder (PowerPoint Presentation)

Everyone thinks of Laura Ingalls Wilder as someone who sat down late in life with no previous writing experience and wrote nearly perfect books that didn’t need much editing. The truth was more complicated, learning to write was a long process for Wilder and rejections and changes in her books almost meant they weren’t published. Explore her writing from a school girl on and how she came to write and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane came to edit the “Little House” books. Delve into Wilder’s writing process.

Around the Next Bend in the Road: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder (PowerPoint Presentation)

Join Laura Ingalls Wilder in 1894 right before she arrives in Mansfield as she sits behind her writing desk. She is thinking back over her life and composing the very first article she ever wrote. This program includes images of the documents that help tell the story of Laura’s life that anyone interested in the real story will enjoy.

Inside the Covers (PowerPoint Presentation)

This in-depth program looks at Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books as objects. I examine how decisions about design, illustration, and production have affected how we see Wilder’s work. I examine the various editions and translations of the “Little House” books, track changes over time and explain why those changes were made.

Holiday Programs:

Laura Ingalls Wilder Thanksgiving Programs

If you say Laura Ingalls Wilder, Thanksgiving probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind, but you’ll find lots of references to it in her writing. That’s entirely proper because as much as we tend to think of Thanksgiving in connection with the Pilgrims in 1621, a lot more of the story, lore, and traditions of Thanksgiving actually come to us from the 19th century and the Victorians and the pioneers. Want to learn more? Do I have a deal for you! Choose from two Laura Ingalls Wilder based Thanksgiving programs, each with a different twist.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Thanksgiving Interactive (This is an experience based program and doesn’t involve PowerPoint.)
This program is more aimed at children or family groups. In addition to some old fashioned story telling we’ll learn about some of the myths and stories of Thanksgiving, taste parched corn that the Ingalls used as a holiday tradition to remind them of the Pilgrims and get the real story behind it, and do an original Thanksgiving craft based on a 19th century homemaking trick that ma used to make each little house Pa built into a home.

Thanksgiving: From Pilgrim to Pioneer (PowerPoint Presentation)
The second version is aimed at adults. Originally presented at the national Association of Living History Farms and Museums conference to a great response, Thanksgiving: From Pilgrim to Pioneer looks at some examples of how Thanksgiving was celebrated over the years. The Ingalls family serves as guides but included is information from many other sources as well. It traces back traditions to where they belong (mostly to the Victorians) and talks about why we associate Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims instead.

Christmas With Laura (PowerPoint Presentation)

Explore the connections between Laura Ingalls Wilder and Christmas. An older Laura shares Christmas memories and news the year her daughter published a magazine article celebrating an old-fashioned Christmas. See the Wilder homesites decked out for Christmas, items that were originally given to and by Laura as Christmas gifts, and learn about how Christmas was celebrated in the late 19th and first part of the 20th century.

View a shortened version of this program on the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum YouTube Channel.

Presentations on other topics include:

A Day in a One-Room School (PowerPoint Presentation)

One-room schools were once the main form of education in the United States and this program helps you learn more about what it was like to attend one. After an introduction to one-room school basics, be invited in to one school as students take you through a typical day in a one-room school in the Midwest around 1900. Learn what happened to one-room schools after that and the roles one-room schools play in American culture today. Whether you are ready to share one-room school memories or just want to learn more, this is a great presentation for you.

What’s For Lunch?: Lunch in One-Room Schools (PowerPoint Presentation)

The image is a common one, students trudging along a road to a distant one-room school house, clutching their school books and lunchboxes. What do you think is hidden in those lunchboxes? My mission is to find out. My research has covered reports in both teacher magazines and in parent/women’s magazines, teacher instruction manuals, and extension leaflets. In addition, I’ve been distributing a survey. The difference between what was called for in magazines and what people actually took was interesting. I’ve been researching this for a number of years, but it is still an active research project and I’d call this an early report mostly based on the survey, but with some information from the sources that I’ve gathered.
Read my most recent summary handout:
Find the survey itself if you’d like to fill it out or know someone who should:

Genealogy Basics (PowerPoint Presentation)

Genealogy Basics covers genealogy from a librarian’s viewpoint. You’ll get suggestions about how to get started and ideas about how to stay organized with your research. You’ll get an overview of what are the basic genealogy resources that you should know about it, genealogy jargon, genealogy organizations to know about, and some dos and do nots based on things other people wish they had done differently. You’ll also get some basic information about how to take care of your family treasures.

Introduction to Living History in the Classroom

You might have heard something about living history or reenacting. What is it all about? How can it be used in a classroom setting? This program will give you an overview complete with a variety of ways it can be used in a classroom.

Electric Salad Bowls in Your Museum (PowerPoint Presentation)

You might not think you have electric salad bowls in your local museum, but you might be surprised. This session has been presented at several conferences and a version appeared in the scholarly journal Thresholds from the University of Northern Illinois. Now bring this hour long training program to your museum to help volunteers, staff, and board members take a new look at what they’ve been doing or to give your visitors a chance to really think about a museum and what goes into it.

Iowa Agriculture: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (PowerPoint Presentation)

A look both backwards and forwards at the culture of Agriculture as it has been practiced in Iowa. We look at the practices, crops, and tools of the agricultural trade and how it affected people’s lives. In its original form, this program won a gold seal of excellence at the Iowa State Fair.
Find a more detailed description.

Through a Child’s Eyes: A Day in a Child’s Life in 1900 (PowerPoint Presentation)

This program takes you through a day in life of a child from the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. From throwing back the covers on a rope bed when the rooster crows to taking a candle back up the stairs again at night, get a behind the scenes look at what it was like to be a child on a farm around 1900?

Last Updated: March 23, 2020

By Sarah S. Uthoff

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast,    look at her photos, and find her on    Facebook ,    Twitter ,  LinkedIn ,  SlideShare,  and . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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