Pioneer Life School Projects
Your students can't travel back in time, but you can bring pioneer life to your classroom with projects that immerse students in the lifestyle. Activities can highlight the vast differences between modern life and how pioneers lived, traveled, worked and played. Bring the pages of your history books to life when teaching a unit of pioneers.
1 A Day in the Life Research Project
A pioneer research project about daily life helps students compare and contrast with their modern lifestyles. Divide students into groups for the project. Assign each group a different aspect of pioneer life, such as clothing, food, farming practices, schooling, travel and activities. Help the groups generate questions to guide the research. The clothing group might research what men, women and children wore, how may outfits they had, how they were made, where the fabric came from and how they washed the clothes. The food group might investigate a typical pioneer meal, how families used livestock, what they grew in gardens, if they shared with neighbors, how they stored food and how they made food last over winter. Have each group present their findings using a prop or demonstration. The clothing group could dress as pioneers. The activity group might lead a game that a pioneer child would have played.
2 Writing History
Another project to immerse kids in the pioneer lifestyle is writing. This activity works best after you've already explored the details of pioneer life. Students imagine themselves as pioneers and write about what they experience. The students should use a factual sources as the basis for the writing project. They might base their creative writing on facts learned in history lessons or information read in nonfiction books about pioneers. Make it an ongoing project by presenting daily pioneer journal topics. You might start with a sentence, such as, "Last night was the worst winter storm we've ever seen." The kids take over from there writing about what happened next. You also can show video clips or read passages from films or books relating to pioneer life as a springboard for writing. The Laura Ingalls Wilder books provide lots of detailed descriptions of life on the prairie.