I am an unfinished work, and so are many of my projects. This blog is just an odd collection of things I make and do.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pioneer Days Activity

To commemorate the Utah Pioneers, we held an activity for our girls, ages 8-11.  We gathered many items and laid them out around the room.  Two families brought children's wagons.

First, we had the girls make a simple paper bonnet and put it on. 

Pioneer Bonnet Craft
This isn't exactly what we made, but it's close. We let the kids decorate them with markers before they did the folding. This one is found at Free Kids Crafts.
I also gave them a bookmark from one of the patterns found here

Then we had them choose a limited number of items from the many we had brought, and pack the wagons for the journey. After a "trek" through the halls of the church we settled down on a blanket for story time. 

I read them the "journal" of a young girl crossing the plains.  Part of each day's event was caused by whether they had the needed items. I made up the story, because I had not found the stories I wanted.  

Here is a list of the items they could choose from:

A carry-on size suitcase representing all the food they would need, and another for clothing.

Scriptures, hymn book
sewing kit
Computer Mouse
Jelly Jar
Dish soap
Dressy Scarf
Sketch pad
dutch oven
Math Book
Extra Fabric
First Aid Kit
Fish food
Warm Scarf
Pie plates
Fun/easy books
piece of wood
Porcelain Doll
Yoga Mat

Out of those 50 items, they had to choose 20, plus the two suitcases.  We had six girls, so I let them each choose 4, giving a little leeway.  It was so fun to watch the process of choosing. We gave them a 5-minute time limit, and they hurriedly chose things, put them back, chose again, discussed it, and packed the wagon in that time.

Here is the story: (Don't try to make the dates fit a particular calendar year, okay?)

April  1
Tomorrow we start our big journey, and Papa said I should write about it as I go along, since there won’t be much time for school.  It’s a good thing I brought a notebook and some pencils.  (If you didn’t, hurry and get them.)

We are going to Zion.  I’m not sure what that means, but I think it means we will finally be safe. It’s so scary being chased out by mobs.  We all worked hard to pack the wagon.  It’s hard to get in everything we need.  I wanted to bring Clarissa, my beautiful doll, but there is just no room in the wagon, so Papa said I can only bring her if I carry her all the way to Zion.  I guess I will leave her behind.

April 15
We were so excited to see the river today that we ran ahead even though Papa and Mama told us to watch out for snakes. I caught my dress on a bush and it tore right down the side.  Does Mama have her sewing kit and some extra fabric?
If Yes:  Mama helped me and I sewed up the side of my dress. It looks kind of funny but Mama says we’ll all be in patches by the time we get to Zion. Mama is working on a quilt during the times she has to ride in the wagon.
If No:  I had to pack away my dress and wear my next-best dress. I didn't want to wear it so soon.  I wanted to have two nice dresses when we get to Zion.  Now I’ll have only two at all, one for every day and one for Sunday.

April 21
It’s Sunday. Back home I thought Sundays were kind of boring sometimes, but I am glad for Sunday now. I’m so tired I don’t think I can walk another step.  We are stopping for the Sabbath. We get to rest, and sing hymns, and I am so glad!  Do I have my scriptures and a hymn book?
If Yes: I liked listening to Papa read the scriptures today.  He read about Lehi’s family traveling in the wilderness. We are just like them, looking for our Promised Land. 
If No:  We all gathered as a large group for church, and then the captain of our wagon train told us we could relax for family time. We are supposed to be reading our scriptures, but in all the hurry we forgot ours.  I hope we don’t forget the truth of the gospel by the time we get to Zion.

April 27
I’m glad we got to a river early today. This one is really muddy along the banks, because it’s been raining so much, and the wagons got stuck.  I wanted to help push them out, but Papa was afraid I would get hurt, so I had to sit up on the wagon while the men and women pushed and pulled.  Everyone is wet and tired.  Do we have towels and soap?
If Yes: We all got to go down to a different spot in the river and take baths. Usually we would just keep going on, but since tomorrow is the Sabbath, we get to stop and rest a little early today. The shade of the trees from the river will be nice for church tomorrow.
If No:  We all got to go down to a different spot in the river and take baths.  Since we don’t have towels and soap, we just get as clean as we can and then we have to put our clothes on wet. We can’t wrap up in the blankets because we need them dry to sleep in.  Sally Jones went right in the river in her clothes and then she had to stay by the fire all evening to get warm. The rest of us got to dance and play.

May 3
Will it ever stop raining?  It seems like we are wet all the time and our skin is about to peel off!  I had to start walking barefoot because my shoes are giving me blisters, but I stepped on a sharp rock and cut my foot.  Do we have a first-aid kit?
If Yes: Mama cleaned it off and wrapped it in a clean bandage.  I have to wear my shoes and socks until they wear clear out.
If No: Mama had to tear a piece out of my old dress to wrap up my foot.  It’s not as clean as it should be, so we are praying that it doesn't get infected.

May 14
The grass is so tall that Papa can’t see us when we walk through it.  I have to stay behind the wagon where grass is knocked down.  There’s nothing to see but the wagon and the grass.  I feel like I have walked forever.  We have to watch out for buffalo chips along the way because there is no firewood anywhere out here.  When we get to our campsite, we have to knock down the grass and dig out a place for a campfire where it won’t spread.  Do we have a shovel?  Matches?
If Yes:  It was so lovely having a good dinner, cooked over a small fire. The grass burns for a fire starter but it won’t keep it going, so we had to use those horrible buffalo chips. 
If No: Dinner was dried food tonight, with a little bit of water.

May 24
Ants got into the flour, so we had to pick them all out. It took a long time to get enough for dinner. I hate to think of bugs crawling into our food, but I was hungry.  Mama says she will soak some beans for tomorrow, and add a little bit of salt pork.  Do we have a Dutch Oven? 
If yes, we can soak the beans all night and then cook them slowly tomorrow, and have a good Sunday dinner.
If no, we can still have beans but they will be much harder because they couldn’t cook as long in a kettle as they would in the Dutch Oven.   
Do we have pie plates, silverware, and cups?  
If yes: I carried my plate off to sit under a tree with Sally Jones.  It’s so nice to have a friend.
If no: My family all gathers around the pot of beans and shares a spoon, eating right out of the pot. 

June 10
We are in Wyoming now and there are mountains and brush and rocks to see—and to slow us down—but not as many rivers.  Did we bring more than one water?
If Yes:  We’re going to be okay. We see trees ahead and we can refill our extra barrel there.
If No: We have to ration out our water now.  I am so thirsty but I can’t have a drink for a while.  There’s no such thing as a bath out here in this wild territory. We’re going to be filthy when we get to Zion.

June 24
Some of the oxen are sick. We all have to get rid of extra things and double up our wagons.  Papa said we can keep one extra set of clothes but everything else has to be dumped out along the trail. My beautiful dress that I was saving for Zion is gone!  So is Mama’s iron, her china, and anything else we don’t absolutely have to have.  Papa said I can keep my locket but I will have to wear it all the time.  We are sharing a wagon with the Jones family, and Sally doesn't even have a locket.  Do I have my locket?
If Yes: Put it on Sister _______ (I had them put it on me so it wouldn't get lost) 
If No: I lost my locket way back in Nebraska when I was playing tag with Sally and some of the other children.  I wasn't supposed to be wearing it, but I wanted to show Sally. It got pulled off and I couldn't find it anywhere. I didn't even tell the grownups because Mama was crying and Papa was working hard to find firewood.

June 27
Sister Tucker died today.  Do we have a tablecloth?
If Yes: Mama gave her best tablecloth to wrap Sister Tucker in and the men buried her beside the trail.  We sang Come, Come Ye Saints.  It doesn't seem like a happy day, but Mama says she is with Heavenly Father now.
If No, do we have the fabric and sewing kit?
If yes: Mama gave the new quilt she is making to wrap Sister Tucker in and the men buried her beside the trail.  We sang Come, Come Ye Saints.  It doesn't seem like a happy day, but Mama says she is with Heavenly Father now.
If no: The men had to bury Sister Tucker in nothing but her clothes. We sang Come, Come Ye Saints.  It doesn't seem like a happy day, but Mama says she is with Heavenly Father now.

July 4
It is Independence Day, a holiday for the United States to celebrate freedom.  I don’t even know if we are part of the United States any more.  Do we have a flag?
If yes:  we do have a small flag. Papa brought it because he said it stands for the freedom we hope to always have. We put it on the side of the wagon and have a big bonfire to celebrate the day. He says even if we got driven out, we will have freedom in Zion.
If No:  We just go on as usual for this day.

July 17
We are traveling through mountains. With all the weight in one wagon, the oxen got tired very quickly going up the hill.  The wagon broke down because it hit a rock and Papa and Brother Jones had to repair it. Do we have a hammer?
If Yes:  Papa and Brother Jones quickly repaired the wagon and we moved on.
If No: The whole wagon train had to stop so Papa could find tools and fix the wagon.  Captain Nielson is not happy with us. We are all anxious to get to Zion. We are so close.

July 24
The Saints in Salt Lake City are celebrating the day Brigham Young first got to Zion.  I wish we were there already!

August 17
We are going downhill through the mountains today and we can see the city in the distance. It is cold up here. Do we have extra blankets?
If yes, we all wrap up in blankets and keep walking along.
If no, we stopped early to build a big fire.  It’s just too cold to keep going.  We’re so close and now we have to wait.

August  22
As we keep going down, it gets warmer. It is hard to keep the oxen from going to fast. Papa needs to shore up the wagon tongue. Do we have wood?
If yes: Papa doubles up the wood on the wagon tongue.
If no: We have to figure out three more things to toss out of the wagon if we are going to make it to Salt Lake City.  Papa says the wagon is just too heavy for the oxen.  We are all walking except baby Moroni.  Eliza is just too little and I have to carry her part way. She is heavy. Mama is carrying Peter.

August 24
Zion at last!  It doesn't look like much of a city, but it is our own space!  We are staying for a little while with the Singleton family until Papa gets assigned where to build.  It is crowded but I was so glad to get a bath, a real hot bath in a washtub, with real soap!  Tomorrow we will go to church with the Saints. Oh how happy I am to be here in Zion at last!

So what did my girls leave behind that they should have packed?  A Dutch Oven, for one, and the shovel. The pie plates to eat from. They had a few things they didn't need...a pillow, a watch, a pretty scarf...but overall, they did very well.

And what did the leaders leave behind that they should have packed?  A camera!

We broke with the Pioneer theme for refreshments...on a 90+, humid, sauna kind of day, we gave them Popsicles!  But first we had them think about what might have been a treat for pioneers, and all they could come up with was crackers!  They were very glad to get Popsicles!