Have students try these activities to expand their knowledge and interest in pioneers.
Using the comic strip in On the Trail as a sample, have students select one aspect of pioneer life as a basis for a comic strip of their own. Topics may include packing the wagon, life on the trail, claiming land, building a sod house, surviving a dust storm, or daily chores for a man, woman, or child. Students should use information from the issue along with other information they have researched to create an accurate portrayal of the situation.
Language Arts, Social Studies
Have students pretend they are taking a trip on a Conestoga wagon during one of the great waves westward. Students should write diary entries for five days of their trip from the viewpoint of a child, woman, or man on the wagon train. Students should try to make their entries as authentic as possible, including sites they’ve seen, conditions in the wagon, the weather, items they brought along, trouble with the animals, family members, other families on the wagon train, and so on.
Cooking, Language Arts
Corn is easy to grow and store, so pioneers ate a lot of corn in dishes such as cornbread, cornmeal pancakes, and corn mush. Have students research or ask at home for a recipe that uses corn, such as corn muffins, corn salad, or corn soup. Then students can practice their handwriting or typing skills by copying the recipe and including some lively drawings, if they wish. Ask students to trade papers to check that all of the fractions, ingredients, and steps are copied accurately. Make copies of the recipes and compile them in a booklet for each student. Invite students to think of a catchy name for the booklet, such as “A Cornucopia of Recipes.” Encourage students to make a corn dish with adult help at home so that everyone in the class can have a taste of it. (You may want to spread out the feast over several weeks, or you may want all students to bring their dish on “Corn Day.”)
Many important events took place in the 19th century, the century during which the pioneers went westward. Have students work alone and research five events they feel were most important in the United States during that time. The events could have taken place in politics, science, the arts, or any other field. Students should write a short paragraph for each event telling why they feel it is important. Have students share the events they chose and put them in time line order. Encourage students to look for relationships among the events.
Give each student a blank map of the United States with the states outline. Assign each student the names of two or three states to locate on the map and research when the state joined the United States. Have students share what they researched so all students can identify each state and date on their own maps. Students should then write a short paper telling which dates surprised them, and why.
Games and Activities about Pioneers | Kids Discover