Grasshopper Plagues

Week 7: Grasshopper Plagues, 1800’s


Read K – 4: Clouds of Terror by Catherine Welch

5 – 8:  On the Banks of Plum Creek (pgs 142 – end) by Laura Ingalls Wilder 


For K – 4 only:

  • What were the “clouds of terror?” (grasshoppers)
  • What did the grasshoppers eat? (food from their garden, blankets, water – which they polluted)
  • What did the people do to try to destroy them? (shoot them, burn them, made traps)
  • Why did Mr. Lundstrom have to leave home? (to find work and send home money)
  • What did the family use to heat their home in the winter? (wood, cow chips: dung)
  • What type of house did the live in? (a soddy, a house built partially underground; the wall were made of dirt and sod)

For Grades 5 – 8:

  • What did Pa hope would bring them a lot of money to pay off their debts? (wheat field)
  • What did Pa desperately need before the harvest? (boots)
  • What was the “thin, glittering cloud” that moved faster than the wind? (grasshoppers)
  • What sound did they make when they hit the roof? (sound of hail)
  • Did the light change? (Yes, they blocked the sunlight)
  • What unnerving sound came from the millions of grasshoppers? (biting & chewing)
  • How did they try to kill them? (with fire)
  • What did they eat? (grass, wheat, willows, potatoes, carrots, beets, beans, corn, oats)
  • Why was it hard to sleep? (could still here them chewing; felt like they were still crawling on them at night)
  • What did Pa still have to pay off? (the house)
  • Can he pay his debts now that the wheat is gone? (no)
  • Why were the grasshoppers sitting with their tails in the ground? (laying eggs)
  • How many eggs were there? ( millions & millions; 40 eggs to every pod, a pod in every hole, 8 to 10 holes per square foot)
  • What did Pa have to do to support his family? (go east to work; live away from home for months)
  • How many miles did he have to walk? (couple hundred)
  • Why was this such a hardship? (old boots)
  • How did the grasshopper plague affect the cows, oxen, and horses? (starving)
  • The girls wanted to go to school, but couldn’t always because …? (needed to help Ma work around the house while Pa was away; couldn’t walk on the grasshoppers)
  • What weird thing did the grasshoppers do after the second plague year? (began marching west for 4 days straight; then finally flew away)
  • What were the wheels of fire? (tumbleweeds hit by lightning)
  • When did Pa have to use a rope to get to the stable? (during blizzards) Why? (couldn’t see)
  • What was a good thing about having such a cold winter? (no grasshoppers that Spring)
  • How did Pa get stuck in the blizzard? (couldn’t see where he was and fell in a hole)


K – 2: Using clothespins, chenille wire, a green marker, and googly eyes or paper, create your own clothespins grasshoppers.  This site gives you instructions:

3 – 4: Print off this picture of a grasshopper’s life cycle from this page: and color it in.  Then, using the information on this page: label the parts of a grasshopper on this worksheet: 

5 – 8:   Read Exodus 10: 1- 20 from the Bible.  Write an essay comparing and contrasting the plague of locusts from the Bible story with the account of the grasshopper plague here in the U.S. in the 1800’s. How do you believe a modern day plague of grasshoppers could affect our country?  Check out this Youtube video for footage on a recent locust plague in Madagascar:

Or this recent locust plague videos for an idea of how they looked:

Add a short paragraph to your essay on the possible effects of a modern day plague.  How do you think people would try to destroy them today?  Could it happen again in America?


Copyright March 31st, 2016 by Gwen Fredette


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Filed under Charlotte Mason, Post Civil War Era

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