Pioneer Crafts for School Kids

by Dana Hinders

Pioneer crafts are fun activities that teach children a bit about how their ancestors lived while making history come to life. It's hard for children who are surrounded by technology to imagine living without modern conveniences, but completing a few pioneer-themed activities can help them better understand the way early American settlers lived.

Pioneer Rag Doll

Pioneer children didn't pick out new toys from a toy store. They made their own using materials that were readily available. Make a pioneer style rag doll by stuffing cotton balls near the top of a bandanna or handkerchief. Tie a piece of yarn around the cotton balls to make a head for the doll. Tie knots at each end of the fabric to make hands for the doll. Cut a straight line up from the bottom of the fabric to make two separate pieces, then knot each piece to make the doll's legs. Tie yarn in the middle of the doll to shape the torso.

Button Jewelry

One easy example of a pioneer craft for school children is making button necklaces and bracelets. Collect old buttons from stained or ripped clothing, then string them together using thin ribbon. Children can practice making different patterns in their jewelry by varying the colors and sizes of the buttons. Tie a double knot at the end of the ribbon, then trim off the edges before wearing.

Homemade Ink

Even if your child is a whiz with email and text messaging, it's fun to write an old-fashioned letter using the same techniques pioneers used. To make homemade ink, mash 1/2 cup strawberries in a bowl with a spoon. Add 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar. Strain the berries over a second bowl to get rid of the seeds. Pour the ink into a small glass jar. Use a feather dipped in the ink to write a letter to a friend.

Homemade Butter

If food-centered crafts are more your thing, get your child into the pioneer spirit by teaching him how to make homemade butter. Fill a mason jar halfway full of heavy cream. Shake continuously until the cream thickens. This will take between 20 and 30 minutes, depending upon the arm strength of your child. Drain off the remaining whey and refrigerate for about an hour. To give the butter as a gift, make pioneer style labels for the jars and tie a pretty ribbon around the base.

About the Author

Dana Hinders is an Iowa-based writer. She earned her B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa in 2003.

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