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Home : 2002 : May : 3

    By Kathy

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    We just finished a unit on pioneers. Here's some of the activities my youngsters (3-4) enjoyed:

    1. I had a parent come in and help them make covered wagons. She used big rectangular boxes cut lenghtwise, pvc piping, and old sheets. The students painted them and attached wheels. They turned out darling. Some of them are actually big enough to sit in! (They love to read in them during SSR.)

    2. We did an art project making "block quilt squares" out of construction paper. That was a great reading/math activity as well since it involved following directions and measuring. They made a stunning display.

    3. I got "project boards" and had each group do research on the internet to answer a specific question and create a display:
    Reasons for Going West
    Preparing for the Trip
    A Typical Day
    Dangers along the Way

    4. I had students write individual compositions on what they would/would not like about traveling along the Oregon Trail. I displayed these around a poster of a covered wagon.

    5. I made a transparency of a map of the US at the time of the Oregon Trail and also one of the trail itself. I had students use the overhead projector to trace this onto butcher paper and color it in. (They absolutely love this activity!)

    6. I had each child make a poster "advertising" reasons why people would want to go West. (We hung them all around the room.)

    7. I divided the students into teams and let them earn points so their team could move along the Oregon Trail. (A great motivator to keep them on their toes this time of year!)

    8. We churned butter using individual jars.

    9. We took a couple of great field trips--The End of the Oregon Trail in Oregon City and Pioneer Farm Museum in Eatonville. The first was a great launch into the unit and the second is an experience worth every penny they charge as the children actually get to "become pioneers" for 24 hours--we sat in the one room schoolhouse, did chores, cooked over the open fire, slept in a log cabin, used the outhouses. Even though not every part was fun, the youngsters LOVED the trip and you could never get those experiences in a book or video. This trip is very well organized and they have a very structured program--keep the kids going the whole time from one activity to another.

    10. We saw two videos--one entitled "United States Expansion" (Schlessinger--part of their American History for Children)--right on primary age level. The other was on the Oregon Trail that I got from the upper grade teacher. It was a lot more informational--and a bit above their heads, but I showed about 10 minutes a day and they seemed interested and learned a lot.

    11. We did literature groups--Sarah, Plain and Tall, Daniel Boone, and Bound for Oregon.

    12. Two books I read to them: Westward to Home and Caddie Woodland

    Well, that's my "dozen activities." Many of these activities are outlined in Going West (Williamson Publishing Company) and Pioneer Days (Scholastic) I got my maps from "Pioneers" a Scholastic curriculum guide.

    Have fun! (I know we did!!)

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