6 Pioneer Crafts for Teens to Make
These Pioneer crafts were some of our favorite American history activities.
Historical projects are a wonderful way to engage kids while giving them a broader sense of how life was lived years ago.
Some of these items that we consider crafts were created to be useful tools by the American pioneers. Days were long and full of challenges, so everything they made needed to serve a purpose. Functionality was key, especially in the early to mid-1800s.
Useful or fun, your tweens will enjoy stepping back in time by creating these items.
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Pioneer Crafts for Teens
Hands-on activities like these are the perfect way to make history interesting for older kids. The last thing they want to do is spend all of their time reading a dry textbook. So, when you see an opportunity to add in some crafts or fun activities, grab it.
Whether you’re putting together a pioneer days event or want to jazz up your homeschool history lessons, crafts are a great choice.
There are so many period crafts you can choose from, so pick a handful together that you can do throughout the year.
Here are 6 DIY projects that we created when we were studying the American pioneers.
DIY Braided Rug
Ready to turn your fabric scraps into a rug?
Frontier women frequently made rag rugs. Before the railroads paved the way for cheaper textiles, the rugs were primarily made by recycling household cloths.
This is a perfect example of how they used their creativity to make sure that nothing went to waste.
In the late 1800s, times were changing and an Arts and Crafts movement arose, making scrap rugs more popular than ever.
If you have extra fabric, sheets, or t-shirts lying around the house, give them new life by turning them into a braided rug.
Does the thought of creating a huge rug seem daunting? Start smaller by making a set of braided coasters. The girls turned theirs in to chair cushions for their American Girl dolls.
To make a rag rug, you’ll need:
- fabric or old t-shirts, cut into 2″ wide strips
- a quilting needle
- quilting thread
- straight pins
- safety pins
How to Make a Braided Rug
- Place one end of three strips of fabric together and safety-pin them to a chair or couch. We found this to be the best way to keep everything in place while you’re braiding.
- Cut two of the strips off at different lengths to vary the pattern.
- Start braiding.
- When you reach a fabric’s end, cut a small slit and slide another piece of fabric through the hole, folding over the end. Then continue braiding. Keep adding strips until the braid is the length you want for your project.
- Pin the three ends, so it doesn’t unravel as you make the rug.
- Unpin from the chair and lay the braided fabric on a flat surface.
- Starting at an end, roll the braid against itself, creating a circle. Don’t pull too hard as you wrap it up or it won’t lay flat when it’s finished.
- As you add a layer to the circle, pin it to the previous ring, so it will stay together. With the needle and thread, stitch through outer two layers of braid as you move along, stabilizing the rug.
- When you reach the end of your fabric, fold over the ends and secure them with thread.
This was a fun craft to make and definitely gave us a new appreciation for the large rugs women made for their families.
Easy Pioneer Crafts
Here are more DIY craft projects you can add to your American history lessons. Add them into your homeschool lesson plans as your tween learns about how the pioneers used them in their daily lives.
Build a Conestoga Wagon
Use items found around the house to make your own pioneer wagon.
Melt, dip, dry, dip. That’s pretty much the candle making process. Creating candles like they did years ago is fairly simple, it just takes time.
Sew A Quilt
If your teens want to continue working on their sewing skills, encourage them to sew a quilt as part of their pioneer history studies once they finish their rug.
Learn How to Whittle
If your child is interested in wood crafts, this is an excellent resource to get them started with whittling. It goes over safety, wood selection, tools, technique, and projects. If you’re not comfortable having your teen jump in to carving wood, consider having them start off carving a bar of soap.
Punched Tin Can Lanterns
This tutorial will show you how to make your own tin can lanterns, replicating the designs of the pioneer days. For bigger holes (to let out more light) just use thicker nails.
Weave a Basket
Use these directions to weave your own basket out of folded pieces of newspaper.
Hopefully, your teens found a project they want to add to their history lessons.
Additional Pioneer Activities
If your kids are too crafty, you can still make history interesting by cooking like a pioneer or working on some hands-on activities that focus on this time period.
Or use discussion questions and notebooking to get your teen out of the textbook. No matter what you choose, I know she’ll see how fun American history can be when you make it interactive.
Pioneer Arts and Crafts for Teens
Need a way to make the crafts even easier? Consider using a kit with everything ready for you.
- Build a wooden covered wagon model.
- Use this kit to make a more traditional basket.
- Make taper candles with these molds.
- Kids can use this no-sew kit to create a fleece quilt.
I love this idea! Will need to file away for next year…thank you!!
For the hand dipped candle instructions, how many candles did you get out of the 1.5 lbs of wax? If I was doing this with 200 students, how much wax do I need if they were each making 1?
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