Pioneer Day was a success. The level of engagement from each student and adult who attended was inspiring. Students, staff, parents, and volunteers bonded over hands-on learning.
The stations were organized by the type of chore and where they would be done: Sewing Room, Kitchen, Barnyard, Old Time Fun, and Chuck Wagon (lunch). Each area had several activities and presentations to see. The students were free to spend as much time as they wanted in their favorite activities, but were encouraged to visit each activity by earning a stamp on their passport at each destination.
As I walked around the campus I noticed magical moments taking place everywhere:
The Sewing Room
While I expected the embroidery center to be a popular stop for girls, the first batch of kids to try it out were three upper grade boys. The volunteer taught them how to embroider their initials on muslin. I’m also happy to report that a new generation will be able to replace a missing button thanks to our button sewing activity!
Our students gained a new appreciation for bread when they participated in the process of grinding wheat berries into flour. They kneaded the dough and formed their own loaves.
We found out that the taffy pulling center helped with getting rid of loose teeth! One little guy brought his tooth to me to show it off! This center created sticky hands that were easily taken care of by doing the laundry with the washboard.
An upper grade boy especially enjoyed peeling logs with a draw knife and spent most of his time in that activity. After the logs were completely peeled, they were made into a bean pole structure for the school garden. He stuck with the project from beginning to finished product. Every part of this project required teamwork and all ages had the opportunity to be part of it. They’re proud of their work and get to use it and show it off in their garden.
Old Time Fun
The stilts were very popular! This activity showed the great character of our students and one of my favorite things about extremely small schools. Older kids mentor, encourage, and take care of the little ones. Throughout Pioneer Day, upper grade students spent their time taking turns with helping small students take their first steps on stilts.
The Chuck Wagon
The whole school enjoyed the fruit of their labor at lunch time. The cook served the butter that was made in the butter churning center. She made delicious “Chuck Wagon Stew” and hard tack (biscuits) with apple crisp for desert.
I’m thrilled as I reflect on the success of our Pioneer Day. Each year when I plan an event to host I have two basic objectives: to provide experiential, project-based learning for each student and to help our students bond with the community. Not only did we achieve these goals, but several volunteers expressed gratitude for the opportunity to meet other like-minded community members and crafters.
Planning a similar event? Read about the steps I took when I was planning Pioneer Day.