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Stories of Kansas and the Great Plains
Teacher/Librarian Resources for Kansas Katie - A Sunflower Tale
Extending Kansas Katie in the classroom or library
The history connection


Why were settlers moving out West?  
Where did they settle?

What did they find?

Katie says she "hiked" out West.  Do you think she could have really done that?

Katie went west because she was curious about the prairie and the things she heard about Johnny Kaw and Paul Bunyan. Where did all the other pioneers come from and why did they go West?

How did the settlers who went West travel?  Only by covered wagon?  Were there other ways to travel?  Boat?  Horseback?  Later by train?

Were there stores?  Trading posts?

Could they just buy a house and move in?

Did they all live out on the prairie?  Were there towns, too?

Your house
Katie's house



What can you find out about the kinds of places and things Katie mentions?

How many ways can you think of that your house is different than Katie's? 

Your house and Katie's soddy - 
    What is your house built from? 
    What was Katie's house made out of?
    Do you know when your house was built?
    When were the settlers on the plains building soddies?
    How are soddies built?
    Do you think Katie could have build her soddy all by
    What were soddies like inside?
    What were some of the problems of living in a soddy?
    What were some of the good things about living in a
    What other kinds of buildings were made from sod?
     Why did they build homes and other buildings out of
     (See the Links page for some good sod house
      resources online.)

How about water? 
Where do you think Katie got hers?

    From the river?  Did she dig a well?  Was it clean and safe?  Where does the water at your house come from?

What about light? 
How did Katie get light in her soddy?

     Only from the window?  Candles?  A kerosene lamp? 
     Fire?  Where does the light at your house come from?

What about cooking?  How did Katie cook?
    Over a fire?  Did she have a wood stove?
    How do you cook at your house?

What about food?  Where did Katie get hers?
    Did she grow all of it?  Did she make trips to a town or
    trading post?   Where does your family get your food?

What about a good place to sleep? 
What kind of bed did Katie have?

    Did she make it herself?  Did she hire someone to make
        it?  Did she buy it?
    Where did she get the bedding - blankets, sheets,
        pillow, quilt?
    What kind of bed do you sleep in?

Make Katie's Cookies

Have fun trying Kansas Katie's cookie recipe:
Makes about 4 dozen 2-Inch soft, chewy cookies. 
This is the same recipe that is in the book.

Ingredients needed:
1 Cup raisins
1 Cup water
2 Cups brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, beaten
1 Cup margarine, butter, or shortening (2 sticks)
2 Cups rolled oats (uncooked oatmeal, quick or regular)
2 Cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Cup roasted, shelled, sunflower seed (4 oz. package)

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease your cookie sheets.
2.  In a small saucepan, bring the water and the raisins to a boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
3.  Pour off 1/2 Cup of the raisin water. Use a Pyrex glass or metal measure, or let it cool first.  Set this raisin water aside to cool.  Drain the rest of the liquid from the raisins and let them cool.
4.  Melt the fat (margarine, butter or shortening) but do not heat it beyond the melting point.
5.  Stir the brown sugar into the melted fat. 
6.  Stir the beaten eggs into the sugar mixture.
7.  Sift the flour with the salt and soda.
8.  Stir the flour mixture, oats and sunflower seeds together in a separate bowl.
9.  Stir about half of the oats-flour mixture into the sugar-egg mixture.
10. Stir the raisin water into the dough.
11. Mix in the remaining oats-flour mixture.  You will have a soft dough.
12. Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto the greased cookie sheets.  The spoonfuls should be a little larger than the size of a walnut and about 2 inches apart.
13. Bake about 12 minutes until browned.  Lift off with a spatula and cool on racks. 

Katie's Clothes

How long do you think it would take you to get dressed if you had to wear these like Katie did?
    A long dress or skirt
    A long petticoat
    An apron (at least when you were cooking)
    Long stockings
    A dress with buttons (no zippers)
    High top shoes with lots of buttons? 
    A sunbonnet when you went outdoors?

Would you like to dress like that?

Would you be able to do everything you like to do in those clothes?
    How would you keep them clean when the streets weren't paved and you didn't have a washing machine?

Find out whether someone in your community has pioneer clothes you can show in the classroom or try on.
    Sometimes museums have exhibit clothing, and some even have things kids can use and try on.

Using Your Imagination

Do you think Katie had neighbors?
    If so, what did they think of her?
    How far away do you think they lived?
    What would kids think of her?  Do think you would like to visit her?

Do you think Katie ever met Johnny Kaw or Paul Bunyan?
    If so, did they like each other? 
    Did they make friends?
    Did Johnny like Katie's sunflowers?
    Was Johnny happy when they made Kansas the
         Sunflower State?
    Was Katie happy that Kansas is the Wheat State?

Find out about tall tales.  Read some, then make up your own.
    Click here to order a classroom Kansas tall tale
    storytelling game featuring Kansas Katie, Johnny Kaw,
    and many Kansas and prairie symbols and features.
    Suggestions for tall tales to read.
    Loads of ideas on these resource pages

A Simple Sunflower Craft

Materials Needed:
Paper Plates
    (The thin kind with the "fluted" edges works best.)
White Non-Toxic Glue 
Sunflower Seeds 
Yellow Paint (Poster paint works well.)

1.  Cut petal shapes around the edge of the paper plate. 
2.  Paint the plate yellow and let the paint dry. 
3.  Spread glue onto the center and arrange the sunflower seeds to form the flower center.

Note: You could cut petals from yellow paper and glue them onto the plate instead of painting it.

Don't forget to take a look at the Kids' Fun page for more ideas.

Kansas Katie - A Sunflower Tale (about the book)
Kansas Katie Fun for Kids
Kansas Katie themes - links (sunflowers and other good stuff)
Kansas Tall Tales (the book that includes Kansas Katie)
Tall Tale Read-Aloud Book List
Tall Tales and where Kansas Katie fits in
Gayla Brown creator of the Kansas Katie doll
Jerri Garretson
Kansas Links
Sunflowers and Kansas Katie themes - links
Take a walk on the Konza Prairie Nature Trail in June or October
Sunflower Photos
Cottonwood Tree Photos

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Last updated February 20, 2008