How to Build the Laura Ingall's Cabin

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The "Little House" books by Laura Ingalls Wilder are among the most popular children's classics. The books and television program that followed describe a child's life on the American frontier during the 19th century. Laura Ingalls and her family lived in many houses over the years, but she described her first house in particularly great detail. This house, located in the woods outside of Pepin, Wisconsin, is the main setting for the first of Wilder's books "Little House in the Big Woods." You can build a model of this house (20 inches on each side), based on the description Wilder gives.

Things You'll Need

  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • 4 20-inch pieces of wood
  • Wood glue
  • 100 1-inch wide craft sticks
  • Natural sticks
  • Small saw
  • Flat 2-inch by 6-inch piece of wood
  • String
  • Dollhouse furniture
  • Measure out 20 inches for each side of the base for your model. The cabin should have a square base, which you can draw out on a sheet of paper.

  • Glue four 20-inch flat pieces of wood into in a square, following your pattern. This will make base of the cabin.

  • Build the floor of the cabin by laying the large craft sticks flat on top of your wood base. Glue them at the ends to that base. You will need about 20 to 30 craft sticks, depending on their width. The floors in the Ingalls' cabin were made of flat but rough wood, uncovered except for the occasional bear skin rug.

  • Build the outer walls of the house using the 20-inch natural sticks, placed on top of one another. Use a small saw to cut notches in the ends of the sticks so that they can interlock. Add wood glue to the notches for added stability. The outer walls should reach about 15 inches in height.

  • Build the interior rooms of the house with craft sticks. You need 1 wall on the lower floor, dividing the cabin into a smaller bedroom and a larger kitchen/sitting room. Glue the craft sticks on their narrow ends, so the flat sides make the wall. The wall should be about 10 inches high. Glue craft sticks horizontally across this interior wall to build the attic floor. You will need about 40 craft sticks in total for this step.

  • Cut 1-square-inch window in the bedroom and two 1-square-inch windows in the big room. The cabin door is in the big room. Make the door with a flat, 6-by-2-inch piece of wood. Glue small loops of string to the top and bottom of the door, and glue the other end to the wall to simulate leather hinges.

  • Glue craft sticks to the top of the house for the roof. Attach the bottom end to the top of the wall, and angle the craft sticks upward to meet each other at a point. Glue the craft sticks together in this shape. You will need about 30 craft sticks for the roof. The Ingalls' cabin needed the slanted roof so that the snow of the Wisconsin winters could slide off.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check out photos of the reproduction of the Ingalls' house built in Pepin, Wisconsin, in order to get an idea of how the house should look. The most detailed description of the cabin is in "Little House in the Big Woods" on page 4. Furnish the house with dollhouse furniture. Wilder described a big bed with a trundle bed, a rocking chair, a wooden table with chairs, a cast-iron stove and a butter churn.
  • Due to the number of houses described in the "Little House" books and television show, there are many options for choosing an Ingalls' house to build. Check out the other possibilities if the Big Woods cabin does not seem right.

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