The last few weeks I’ve been making preparations for my annual educational event. This year I decided to host a Pioneer Day! I’m really more of an idea person than a planner. Before becoming a teacher, I never imagined that I could put on an event for an entire school. However, when you work with such awesome people, anything is possible. Everyone jumps on board to help out.
Planning my Pioneer Day event became less daunting when I broke it down into tasks. Here are the steps I took in planning my Pioneer Day event.
Use literature to support your topic. I chose to build the event around Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book “Little House in the Big Woods” because it uses great descriptions of how everyday tasks were done long ago. This helps to give students background knowledge.
Generate Ideas from the students’ interests. In class we compared the tasks that Laura’s family did with tasks that we do today. Together we discussed and organized information on a Venn Diagram after reading each chapter. They especially loved to talk about hunting and food preparation.
Taking a virtual tour of the Ingalls’ and Wilder’s homesteads helped to bring my students’ background knowledge to life.
Choose your activities and demonstrations. There are many resources directly related to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books. I organized the activities into demonstrations and centers the students could do themselves. This gave me an idea of which activities to do as a class and which to include in my Pioneer Day event. I collected several of my ideas on a Pioneer Day Pinterest board to share with my helpers.
Schedule the date. Work around you school’s calendar and find a date that will accommodate the most participation among staff, parents, and community members. This was the tricky part for me because there’s always someone going somewhere! I finally nailed it down and set the date based around the availability of some key volunteers and staff.
Recruit volunteers to do demonstrations and lead activity centers. Once I had my list of presentations and activities, I listed supplies that I needed. I sent my list home to parents and posted it in the staff break room asking for volunteers and donations. People signed up where they were most comfortable and began offering items for us to borrow. Some of the great items that turned up were a butter churn, a crank ice-cream maker, and a wash board! We have an amazing school community and everyone pitched in to help. Our cook even planned a special lunch: Chuck Wagon Stew and Hard Tack!
Use your community connections to find local talent. I admit, I have a few connections within my family that helped a lot. My brother is a farrier and volunteered to be my blacksmith. My mother actually sewed all my baby clothes on her treadle sewing machine in the seventies, so she also volunteered to demonstrate. My dad built their house out of logs. I talked him into having a pole peeling center using old time tools. Our after-school program coordinator gave me the number of a local spinner and our music teacher is a member of the Spinners and Weavers Guild. As word spread, community volunteers began jumping on board.
Contact your local museum. This is a resource that I wish I had tapped into earlier. I didn’t think about this awesome resource until it was too late for them to help as much as they would have. Next time I’ll contact them earlier to see how they might want to be involved.
Map out the space. I organized the set-up of my Pioneer Day demonstrations and activities by chore areas. I had the Barnyard Chores together – Blacksmith, Pole peeling, Seed starting, Pioneer Camp, and Trapper. The Kitchen Chores were in another area – Baking Biscuits, Churning Butter, Taffy Pulling, and Making Ice-Cream. There were a lot of Sewing Room centers: Treadle Sewing Machine, Crank Sewing Machine, Hand Sewing, Spinning Wool, Felting, Dying Yarn, and Quilt Square Coloring. Other chores and crafts that I put near the Kitchen and Sewing Room were Candle Dipping, Wash Day, and Paper Dolls.
Choose a welcoming crew to assist with set up. When the guests arrive, they’ll need someone to greet them and direct them to their demonstration spot. Have a “go to” person available to answer their questions and make them comfortable.
To follow up the Pioneer Day event, visit “What Happened Next” to find out what happened to your favorite characters from the “Little House” series.
What other steps should be added to this list? Please add to the list by leaving a comment below!