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Copyright 1999

Created by Brian Thornton

Click here for more information Capo Creations, Box 1411, Haileybury, Ontario, CANADA. POJ 1KO

Not to be used or copied in any manner without specific written consent of the publisher All Rights Reserved

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Sarah, Plain and Tall

Student Study Guide

Patricia MacLachlan


Answer all questions in sentence form.


Chapter One

  1. What question does Caleb keep asking Anna?
  2. Who is Anna?
  3. What has happened to their mother?
  4. Who is telling the story?
  5. Why had Papa placed an advertisement in the newspaper?
  6. Find Kansas in an atlas.

Vocabulary: hearth, dusk, dough, wretched.

Enrichment: Pretend you are a widow or widower living on a pioneer farm with your children. Write what you would like to place in an advertisement if you were looking for a spouse.


Chapter Two

  1. Read all the letters and describe your favourite one.
  2. Who is Jacob?
  3. What important message did Papa show his children at the bottom of Sarah's letter?

Vocabulary: braid, flounder, pesky, stall.

Enrichment: Find the state of Maine in an atlas.


Chapter Three

  1. How do we know that Papa is expecting to meet someone special?
  2. Why are the children so quiet as they do their chores?
  3. How can we tell that Caleb is very young?
  4. Mention one or two things that Sarah brought with her from Maine?
  5. Why do you think Sarah's hands were rough?
  6. What does Anna see in Sarah's face that makes her believe that she might not stay?

Vocabulary: fetch, hawk, clattered, preacher, flax

Enrichment: What is a mail order bride? Research the topic on the internet or in an encyclopedia and find information about it. Do we have such things as mail order brides today?


Chapter Four

  1. What did Anna mean when she said that the dogs loved Sarah first?
  2. Who were Lottie and Nick?
  3. Why was Sarah so sad when she listened to the shell?
  4. Why did Caleb lean against Anna?
  5. Why did Caleb smile at the name of the flowers hanging from the ceiling?
  6. What does Ayuh mean?
  7. How did Sarah describe the seals?

Vocabulary: scallop, conch, stew, rustle.

Enrichment: Caleb is mentioned often in the story. How does the author use Caleb in this story? How would the story be different without Caleb?


Chapter Five

  1. How do we know that Sarah was a kind and caring person?
  2. What were the first words uttered by Caleb, Anna and Sarah?
  3. What kind of dune did Papa show them?
  4. Why did Caleb smile when Sarah said the words, "our dune"?

Vocabulary: coarse, buzzard, charcoal, dunes, mica, canvas.

Enrichment: Describe the emotions you feel while you are reading this story. How does the author allow you to experience these feelings?


Chapter Six

  1. Why did Papa teach Sarah how to plow the fields?
  2. How do the children get to school when there is little or no snow?
  3. Why does Papa tie a rope from the house to the barn?
  4. According to Sarah, how are the barns different in Maine?
  5. Why do you think Anna and Caleb never learned to swim?
  6. Why is Sarah such a good swimmer?
  7. How does Sarah describe the sea?

Vocabulary: plough, sums, collapsed, biscuits, sputter.

Enrichment: Describe the woman's role on the pioneer farm. Is the woman's role different today? Whose job was harder, the man's or the woman's? Why?


Chapter Seven

  1. What are they planning to plant in the new fields?
  2. Where did the daisies come from that were in Sarah's hair?
  3. Why did the chickens fly onto the porch roof?
  4. Why did Sarah's eyes fill with tears when she was talking to Maggie?
  5. What does Maggie insist that Sarah must have to cheer her up?
  6. Why is Anna convinced that Sarah will not eat the chickens?

Vocabulary: porch, whickering, banty, primly, quilt, hitch.

Enrichment: Find information on a quilting bee. What happened at a quilting bee? Do people still hold quilting bees? Bring a quilt to school to show your friends.


Chapter Eight

  1. What was Sarah's response when Caleb said that women don't wear overalls?
  2. What does Sarah tell Papa when he mentions that the roof needs fixing?
  3. Why does Caleb think that Sarah might want to go to town?
  4. How do we know that Anna likes Sarah?
  5. What were Sarah and Papa carrying when they returned to the barn doorway, wet to the skin?
  6. What does Anna call the hail?

Vocabulary: overalls, crisply, portion, squall, milled.

Enrichment: Pretend that you are Sarah. Write a letter home to your brother, William, describing your new family, home and how you feel about Jacob, Anna and Caleb.


Chapter Nine

  1. Describe the scene after the storm.
  2. What methods does Caleb suggest to keep Sarah from leaving?
  3. Give at least two reasons why you think Sarah is planning to return to the farm.
  4. Why did Sarah choose only certain colours when purchasing the pencils?
  5. Describe what you liked most about the story.

Vocabulary: groom, sly, hush, scuttling, stern, windbreak, squinted, reins.

Enrichment: Plant your own garden at school with as many flowers as possible that are mentioned in the story. Pretend that you are Anna and write a few entries in a dairy before and after Sarah arrives.

Obtain the video, Sarah,Plain and Tall. Compare it to the book. Which do you prefer and why?

Obtain the video Skylark. In this sequel to Sarah, Plain and Tall Sarah, takes the children back east.

More ideas for the innovative teacher.

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Copyright 1998

Created by Brian Thornton, Capo Creations, Box 1411, Haileybury, Ontario, CANADA. POJ 1KO

Not to be used or copied in any manner without specific written consent of the publisher All Rights Reserved