The American Pioneers were the people who went westward and created settlements to live in! They were the brave people who began communities from nothing! But it wasn’t just brave explorers going to settle these lands. These were whole families! With moms, dads, and children! The Pioneer life wasn’t easy, but these people made the best of what they had! They traveled across the prairies in covered wagons, they made houses out of the ground, and they worked hard to create farms and towns! Because they were literally creating their homes and towns, pioneer children had to create their own toys! One very easy to make toy requires only some yarn! It was common to have yarn scraps, so pioneer children would use those to create yarn dolls, like the one I made below. Can you create your own doll to play with?
Pioneers often had to make their own clothes too! (We will learn more about pioneer clothes tomorrow!) But this meant that buttons were a common thing to have in the house. Pioneer children were very good about using their imagination to create their own toys. They would use the buttons and some string that they had at home to create a toy called a buzz saw or a whirligig. Thanks to Housewife Eclectic, you can learn how to make your own buzz saw easily!
Sometimes, for special occasions like birthdays or Christmas, a pioneer child would get a toy made just for them! Maybe one of their parents would spend time to make it or, if they had enough money, they would get a toy sent to them from the closest store. These occasions were very special indeed, and the toys that they received on these occasions were cherished! One such toy they might have gotten was called a cup and ball. Often, these were made of wood, but thanks to Artsy Momma, you can make your own! The goal of this toy was to throw the attached ball into the air and catch it in the cup! You might have to try a couple time before you get it!
Pioneer children didn’t just make their own toys, but they also made their own games! One thing that pioneer kids loved to do was race! On the wide-open prairie, there is a lot of room to run! So to make the races more interesting, they began doing what was called sack races. Each child would step into a potato sack and hold it up around their waist, like you see in the historic picture below. Then, they would hop from the start to the finish line to see who was fastest! One way that you can hold your own sack race while staying home and inside is by using a pillowcase! Step into a pillowcase, pull it up, and hop from one end of the room to the other!
When it got cold, dark, and dreary outside, pioneer children developed their own inside games and activities. One thing that they would do was to create shadow puppets, and you can too! Pioneer children would have used candles or lanterns because they did not have electricity, but you can use a flashlight! They would cut shapes out of paper and put on a show with the puppets! You can find all kinds of shadow puppet cut outs here! What kind of story will you tell with shadows?
If you are still looking for some fun game ideas, Grandpa Shorter’s has some great Pioneer games! One of my favorites is called Hide the Thimble. The idea of the game is that one person hides the thimble and then the others see if they can find it! Now, pioneer children would have used a thimble because thimbles are used to help sew clothes, so pioneers had to have them! You don’t have to use a thimble; you can use any small object like a bouncy ball or a quarter!
Now that you have lots of games and toys to keep you busy, I think you should make a pioneer inspired snack! Remember how I told you that pioneers traveled to their new homes in covered wagons? Well, why don’t you grab mom or dad and make a covered wagon you can eat! Here’s how! I hope you have lots of fun playing like a pioneer kid! And come back tomorrow for “What did a Pioneer DO?”