Focus on American Pioneers with These Clever Hands-On Activities
If you’re currently learning about the American Pioneers, make sure to add some of these Pioneer hands-on activities into your lesson plans.
When it comes to studying history, there is no better way to make it come to life for kids than to add in American history activities, no matter what time period you’re studying.
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Go West! was a rallying cry for thousands of brave men, women, and children during the 1800s. They left everything and everyone they knew, packed up their wagon and traveled for months to claim land, hoping for a better life for themselves. The journey was difficult and often deadly. Once they settled, life didn’t get much easier. Homes had to be built, crops planted, animals cared for, and new societies created.
By working through projects like those below, students can get a small glimpse into what life was like for those who settled the American Midwest all those years ago.
Fun Hands-On History Projects for Middle School – The American Pioneers
Cook a Pioneer Breakfast
Teens love to eat and they need to know how to cook, so let them create some delicious bacon johnnycakes or maybe some biscuits and butter.
Create a Quilt
Quilts were a common household item for the pioneers. They were a useful and functional item in the home. Plus, they were considered beautiful heirlooms, used to tell their family’s story.
How Would You Do on the Oregon Trail
Have your middle schooler take part in an Oregon Trail simulation to see just how difficult the trip was for the early settlers.
Keep an Animal Journal
When President Jefferson sent Lewis & Clark on their journey from Missouri to the Pacific Ocean, part of their task was to keep detailed notes about the plants and animals they encountered along the way.
Let them use these notebooking pages to create their own animal journal.
Learn About the Trails with Covered Wagon Activities
Use a variety of hands-on activities to get a good idea of what life was like traveling west by covered wagon for months on end.
Life-Sized Log Cabins
By using plans, a tape measure, and chalk, older kids can get an idea just how compact pioneer living was.
Let your older kids try their hand at making some of the delicious candy from the pioneer days – maple candy, rock candy, and taffy.
There are a whole bunch of different flavors you can use.
While you’re studying the journey west, have your teen pretend they were there, along the trail, with the pioneers. Have them create a personal journal to record their life and experience.
Play Some Games
Games of the time were simple, yet provided kids with plenty of entertainment when they were free from their usual responsibilities. Although some of these games may seem too young for middle schoolers today, kids of all ages had fun playing them together back in the pioneer days.
Get outside with your older kids and play hopscotch, have a three-legged race, challenge each other in a ring toss, or try your hand at clothespin drop.
Ultimate American Pioneers Notebooking Unit
Use our beautiful notebooking unit to direct your learning about this time period or use it to keep everything in one neat place.
What is your favorite hands-on history activity for studying about the American Pioneers?
If you need ideas for making other historical time periods fun and interactive, follow along with our 5 Days of Interesting Hands-on History Projects for Teens.