Did you know there was a whole holiday devoted to American pioneers? In Utah, we celebrated Pioneer Day on July 24 to commemorate the day the pioneers came through the mountain pass into their new home in the Salt Lake Valley. Fireworks, picnics, performances and parades are all a part of Pioneer Day celebrations. It got me thinking that pioneers are a fun topic to learn more about and celebrate at any time of year. If you’d like to spice up your summer fun as we move into the languid days of August, try dipping your toes into the pool of history.
Pioneers Of The American West
Many groups of people left the eastern states in the 19th century to look for land out in the “untamed” west. The stories didn’t all have happy endings, of course. In many cases, the land was already inhabited by Native Americans and, farther west, by Mexico and Spain. Pioneering lead to great changes in the course of our nation’s history. Some of it was difficult and unfair, but there was also much to admire, especially in the courage and faith it took for families to venture out together into a great unknown. Many were willing to work hard and use their skills to bless a future nation. If you’ve ever read The Little House on the Prairie books, you understand what I’m talking about. Perhaps you have one of these intrepid pioneers in your own family history.
Participate in activities with your family to engage children in the fun of history. We usually bake beehive-shaped bread, formed and rolled out like Playdough. Here’s some other craft and cooking projects you can do:
- wreaths from vines growing in the yard
- corn husk dolls
- yarn dolls
- cook over an outdoor fire (One of our favorite recipes is for open-flame Rob Roy cookies.)
For more ideas, check out the official Little House on the Prairie Pioneer Learning [http://littlehouseontheprairie.com/category/learning/] page—so much fun stuff there!
Pioneers In Any Era
Courtesy Tessa Zundel
I have a few pioneers from the early American West in my family tree, but that’s not the only age of pioneers. You probably have pioneers in your own family: the first person in your family to graduate college, a grandpa who came from another country to settle here and learn a new language, a single mother who never gave up.
One of my family pioneers was Edward Hyatt, who helped pave the way for education in early California, when it was barely a state, and has schools named after him today. He and his spunky wife were scientists, and he loved children—and bugs. If you don’t have a lot of information about your own genealogy, but you’d like to learn more, consider involving your kids in the exploration process with these activities.
As you begin to uncover the stories from your family’s past, share the pioneer stories with us—no matter what the era!—in the comments section below.