Pioneer Day is July 24th. Whether or not you had any ancestors who crossed the plains in search of religious freedom, better farmland, or even gold, this month is a great time to remember the many men, women, and children, who made the long trek across the plains to settle the west. So take some time this month to celebrate the pioneers.
Share Pioneer Stories
Pioneer stories are a great way to share the pioneering spirit with your children. Many stories are faith promoting; others express the dangers of pioneer life, while some are humorous. If you had ancestors who crossed the plains do a little research (talk to some aunts or grandmas) and find out any stories about them. My favorite pioneer stories are about my own ancestors. I have shared stories with my own children: such as the time three sisters were crossing over a stream by walking on a log. The middle sister slipped and her bonnet string caught on a branch saving her from being swept away. Another favorite is the time my great-great-grandmother, newly arrived from England, was sent to gather wood chips for the fire. After about an hour she came back with an empty sack, stating that there was no wood to be found. Imagine her chagrin and dismay when she was told that wood chips were really dried buffalo dung and there was plenty to be found. Many pioneer stories can be found on-line. My favorite site is Heritage.org
Go On A Pioneer Trek
Get your family together, take some water and food (if your trek will be long), and go on a pioneer trek. You might want to dress up in pioneer clothes to make the event more realistic. Before you leave talk about the long journey that the pioneers had to take (over 1,000 miles). Describe the things that they faced (Indians, flood, storms, cold, hunger, stampedes) and the joy they felt when reaching their destination. Plan an ending destination for your trek, maybe a local ice-cream store or campsite. You could do this through the streets or up in the mountains. The point is to give your children a taste of the everyday life of a pioneer.
Do Pioneer Crafts
There are lots of crafts that you could do to remember the pioneers. Follow the links to find written instructions to some of the crafts. You could make:
- a fabric doll
- stick horse
- wood or soap carving
- tin lanterns
- log cabin
- quilt – fabric or paper
- straw hat
Other Pioneer Activities
Include some of these other fun pioneer activities in your family celebration.
- Have a family taffy pull.
- Visit a local farm and try to milk a cow.
- Cook a meal over an open fire.
- Go to a shooting range and learn how to shoot.
- Turn off all the lights and electronic objects and spend the evening talking, telling stories, and playing games.
- Play pioneer games like: marbles, hopscotch, jump rope, blind-man’s bluff.
- Go on a family handcart trek vacation.
- Have a boat race.
- Make bonnet or straw hat cupcakes.