{DVD Crew Review} Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura

I remember riding my bike every week to the library and choosing the books form the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I had read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books; my favorite was The Long Winter.  Because I loved the Little House books so much, I faithfully watched Ma, Pa, Laura and the other girls every week on the tv show Little House on the Prairie.  I began reading aloud the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to my girls when they were in early elementary. Daddy took over when we got to Farmer Boy. Farmer Boy remains a very special family favorite because that’s the book that convinced Honeybear that Laura wasn’t just for little girls. I have passed on my love of all things Laura to a few of my girls, so of course we had to express very high interest in reviewing Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura DVD from Legacy Documentaries.

This documentary tells the story of “the heartwarming childhood of America’s favorite farmer boy.”   Dean Butler, who portrayed Almanzo Wilder from 1979 to 1983 on the television series Little House on the Prairie produced and directed this movie as well as serving as narrator. 53 minutes in length, the dvd uses still photos, drawings and actors to tell the story of Almanzo or to re-enact scenes from the book Farmer Boy.  We learn some of the Wilder family history and a bit about life in America at that time.  Executive Product/Narrator Dean Butler even guides us through some comparison of Almanzo’s life and Laura’s life.

In addition to the main documentary Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura there is a 12 minute clip about the Wilder Farm today: how it was restored and what activities they offer.

About the Documentary (Description provided by BooBear):

This Documentary focuses on the book Farmer Boy. It talks about Almanzo as a boy from the time period of that book. It goes into detail on his family. Who his parents were and what life was like at that time. You were able to see the Wilder homestead and what it was like when Almanzo lived there. They showed some of tools and activities that he would have done. It also talked about the cultural differences of today verses then. They also discussed the messages that Laura send through the book.

Enjoying the DVD:

In my reviews I often have a heading that says “Using Product XYX” but we didn’t use this dvd so much as we enjoyed watching this DVD. We are not currently studying that time period for history, nor are we currently reading Farmer Boy.  I think this documentary would be an excellent supplement for American Pioneer History or as a way to study Farmer Boy in-depth but it’s also just a really enjoyable video for those that love Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Supergirl and BooBear, inspired by the DVD, decided to grab some Legos, dollhouse things and some farm animals and create their own homestead.  I love that they didn’t just watch the DVD but incorporated the information in their imaginative play. Here’s Supergirl with the barn and “field”.



Thoughts from BooBear (age 18, devoted Laura Ingalls Wilder fangirl):

I really enjoyed watching this. I was expecting it to have more about Almanzo that was not mentioned in the books. Otherwise I really enjoyed learning about the Wilder family homestead. There was a lot of interesting information in the video about the times and how people lived. They also talked a lot about what the book was trying to tell people about life. It was interesting. 

Thoughts from Turtlegirl:

Even though I am definitely not a fan of the Little House on the Prairie Series, it was still interesting to see what events shaped Farmer Boy, and little details one can learn from it. Farmer Boy was my favorite of the Little House books, so I liked getting more information on it. It was ‘tolerable, I suppose’ but not something I personally would go out of my way to watch. [Mom note:  Turtlegirl has a distaste for all things Laura Ingalls Wilder because she was “forced by BooBear to always have to play Mary and never got to be Laura” in their playtime.]

Thoughts from Supergirl:

I like it. It was fun to watch. My favorite part was his bossy sister told him to work. I have a bossy sister, too.  He was trying to train the horses.  That was his father’s job. His father didn’t want him to do it. I also like the part where he gets his horse and he gets to train him. Then he’s not a little boy. I like watching this with my sister because we play Little House.

The Details:



Some of the Review Crew reviewed Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura and others reviewed Little House on the Prairie the Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what they have to say about these DVDs.

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All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.
You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews by clicking here.


  1. Bwahahahahahha, "I have a bossy sister too" made me laugh :)
    This sounds fascinating. I admit, "Farmer Boy" was never my favorite growing up.


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