Pioneer Day, officially celebrated July 24 in Utah, commemorates Brigham Young and the Mormon pioneers' arrival into Salt Lake City after their journey from Illinois and other eastern states. While celebrations within Utah often include fireworks, parades, and rodeos, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) often observe this day with their own celebrations. Involve children in Pioneer Day festivities by using interactive crafts and activities to teach them about the Mormon Pioneers’ journey and lifestyle.
Make a Log Cabin
Create a child-friendly (and edible) version of a pioneer’s log cabin using pretzels and frosting. Cut a clean 1 liter milk/juice container down to 5 inches tall. Fold the top together and cut off the glued-together section. Tape the ends together so that it looks like a roof. Cover a section of your house with frosting and position pretzel sticks onto the building to serve as the “logs.” Continue onto each part of the house until you completely cover it with the pretzel sticks.
For a long-lasting version, cut newspaper into strips (12 inches long and as wide as the milk container). Place glue on the ends of the strips and roll them around a pencil or straw to create “logs.” Carefully slide the pencil out of the "log." Paint the logs brown and allow them to dry completely. Glue the logs onto your cabin. Embellish your cabin with windows, a door, and a roof cut from construction paper.
Go on a Pioneer Trek
Reenact the Mormon pioneers’ journey across the United States by making your own trek. Choose a destination, such as a local park or playground that you can easily walk to within your designated time period. Gather basic food supplies, such as water and snacks. Don a sun bonnet or hat, grab a walking stick, and head toward your destination. Talk about the dangers pioneers faced when walking, such as floods, cold, hunger, and Indian attacks.
Play Pioneer Games
Turn off the TV and play old-fashioned pioneer favorites. Pioneer games still played today include hopscotch, marbles, and jump-rope. Introduce children to new games, such as Snowball Fight or Fox and Geese. Enjoy a snow-free “snowball" fight by stuffing old socks with rags to make “snowballs.” Line up two teams, 20 feet apart. When given the signal, teams throw snowballs at each other. When a player is hit by a snowball, he or she joins the other team. Continue playing until children tire or one team ends up with all the players.
In the Fox and Geese game, a pioneer version of tag, the “fox” tries to catch the “geese.” Mark 4 squares (10 feet across) in the ground. Ask all players to stand on the lines forming the squares. When you hear the signal, the player serving as “it” has 10 seconds to touch as many other players as he can. All players must stay on the lines while trying to evade capture. When a "goose" is tagged, she switches places with the "fox" so that every child gets a turn to play both roles.
A former children's librarian and teacher living in Dallas, Erin Carson loves to share her knowledge of both literature and parenting through her writing. Carson has a master's degree in library science and a bachelor's degree in English literature. As a freelance writer, Carson has published numerous articles on various websites.