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Teaching Guide: Exploring Little Women

This teaching guide helps instructors use a specific primary source set, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, in the classroom. It offers discussion questions, classroom activities, and primary source analysis tools. It is intended to spark pedagogical creativity by giving a sample approach to the material. Please feel free to share, reuse, and adapt the resources in this guide for your teaching purposes.

Discussion questions

  1. Using the letter from a Massachusetts soldier and the poem about women knitting socks, describe how the March women might have supported the war effort.

  2. Compare and contrast the experiences of Lizzy in the letter describing symptoms of scarlet fever with the book’s description of Beth’s sickness.

  3. Using the items in this set, describe some of the challenges of life in the 1860s. What were some challenges faced by women specifically?

  4. Compare and contrast the photograph of models in the 1940s and the illustration from the 1860s. What are the differences between formal and everyday clothing? How can these clothes help us understand the changing circumstances of Amy in Little Women?

Classroom activities

Pick one of the March girls and write a letter from this character to her father away at war. Use the details from this set to describe your everyday life in Concord and the problems you face.

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