9 PIONEER DAY SHARING TIME IDEAS
(To celebrate the Mormon pioneer holiday on July 24th)

Barbara:
Sr.: We are having a handcart presentation and will have numerous items for the children to choose from as to what they can take to fit in the handcart. We have a list of supplies the pioneers were to take, but of course we can't do 5 oxen, etc. We are going to read it to the children to give them an idea.
Also we will be telling stories of pioneer children. Our President has a book of actual accounts from pioneers that were children when they were in the wagon trains, etc. We will dress as pioneer women.
Jr.: For the smaller ones, basically the same thing. We have hand puppets that I made (have to make them some pioneer clothes) who will tell some stories and also have the handcart demonstration too.

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Liz Osborn:
Someone was asking what the Pioneers took in their wagons. At this website "http://www.bonaparte-iowa.com/mormon2.htm" you'll find a list of what Brigham Young instructed the Saints to take. It was compiled by a local historian. And I can vouch for this guy... he writes for my hometown newspaper in Keosauqua, Iowa, which is along the Mormon Trail. His articles are always fascinating and meticulously researched. ---
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Heather:
I have a small handcart and am going to fill it with items the pioneer may have used and talk to the children about each item and why it was necessary / helpful / used. I have started a list of ideas to fill it with...
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Julie C in Boise:
  1. In the July 1997 Friend page 32 "I Can Draw Pioneer Pictures" looks fun and then Kitchen Krafts page 19 is pioneer recipes.
  2. In the July 1993 FRIEND on page 30 is a "Packing the Handcart" activity. It has a pictures and perhaps it can help you elaborate on the idea. In the same issue is a map entitled "The Church Moves West" on page 24-25. On page 38 is a song also entitled "I Can Be a Modern-Day Pioneer". It is a catchy tune and the kids love to learn new pioneer songs. One of our ward's favorite is "To Be A Pioneer" in the CS. Bring bonnets for the girls to wear and scarves for the boys. One year we got permission from the bishop to let the children come dressed as pioneers - boys in their jeans and girls in long dresses.
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Donya (Hong Kong):
When I told pioneer stories to the primary last year, the children really enjoyed hearing the stories that included pioneer children their ages.
They loved to hear the stories of President Joseph F. Smith as he crossed the plains with his mother when he was 9 years old.
His story and many others are in the books "I Walked to Zion" and "The Lord Needed a Prophet. President JF Smith's story can also be found in part in the current Relief Society manual.
Last year we had two missionaries in our area who could play the guitar.
For one part of a primary activity day I brought in bonnets and bandanas for the children to wear, we sat on the floor around a fake fire, and I would tell a short pioneer story and then we would sing a pioneer song sometimes with the guitar accompaniment and sometimes (when they couldn't) without.
The following Sunday I brought in the fake fire and my cast-iron Dutch oven. In the Dutch oven I had pictures of pioneer boys and girls with fun things to do while singing the songs on the back. I let the Sr. Primary children use the books (as they were so unfamiliar with so many of the pioneer songs) and then I would choose one child to pick a song from the book and another child to come up and draw a picture out of the Dutch oven.
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Denise in AZ:
A couple of years ago when I attended the general primary workshops in SLC the general board taught us this version of The Handcart Song (CSB 220). I hope you can follow -- it is easier shown than typed!

Have 3 groups.
Group 1:
(chant) PI - O - NEER (rest) / PI - O - NEER (rest) (repeated through the whole song.) Actions: slap both open palms on lap for PI and O, then cross at chest for a little thump for NEER. Don't forget the rest. Don't do this too fast, it sets the rhythm for the song.

Group 2:
(chant in rhythm with the first group) for some must push and some must pull
/ for some must push and some must pull / for some must push and some must
pull (repeated through whole song) Actions: lean forward with arms out front for PUSH and lean back pulling arms back for PULL. You sort of rock back and forth.
Group 3:
Sing the song to the rhythm of the other two groups.
"When pioneers moved to the West,
with courage strong they met the test.
They pushed their handcarts all day long,
And as they pushed they sang this song:"
(etc)

I usually start the first group off, then when they seem together and have a nice rhythm, I add the next group then finally add the singers.
Hope this makes sense! It is so fun! Try it!

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Jen:
According to Primary Manual 5, lesson 40 (I think) Brigham Young gave the pioneers the following rules at the beginning of the journey: And from the Ensign, 8/97, Adults were allowed only 17 pounds of baggage, largely clothing and bedding; children were allowed 10. Larger carts sometimes were loaded down with as much as 400 to 500 pounds of food, bedding, clothing, and cooking utensils.

The rescue of the Martin-Willey handcart company was in obedience to the request of the prophet for volunteers. It wasn't a commandment, but certainly obedience to the call for service.

In more general terms, the pioneers were asked to assist the newcomers to the valley as they were helped when they first came. This was done financially, in work efforts, helping with food and housing, and in similar ways.

You may be able to find out more on this by looking up some key words (prophet, obedience, pioneers...) at www.LDS.org.

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Debbie W.:
Last year I was a teacher preparing a class presentation in junior primary for the pioneer day week. I took a bunch of props with me...things that the kids might want or need if they had to make the trek to Utah. I included pots/pans, blankets, pillows, extra clothes, toys, candy, books, scriptures, journal, comfortable shoes, etc, etc. The bigger the variety, the better.
I also took a bathroom scale. I started out by explaining that we were going on a journey, and I told them a little about the pioneers. I told them that today we were going to pretend we were going on the journey with the pioneers, and that we needed to start by packing. I spread all my props on the floor, and told them that together we would choose what we would take with us. I set a weight limit, just as they did when the pioneers crossed.

I started by letting kids choose an item to take. At first I just let them choose and explain why they wanted that item with them. Every once in a while I would prod them with comments like, It sure will be hard to cook any food without pans. Once we reached the weight limit, I stopped them. I told them various true pioneer stories, such as the girls who wore all of their dresses and clothes at weigh in time so they could take them with them, and how along the first couple of miles, their clothes were strewn along the path. Then we did another weigh in, and they had to reduce the load.

Eventually I told them about the handcart companies in the blizzard, just after they had unloaded everything possible, including extra blankets.

I told about the rescue by Brigham Young and the Saints in the valley.

Many of the stories I used were true accounts recorded in the Gerald Lund book, Fire of the Covenant, which I had just finished reading. But there are countless other places to find the stories that will work best for you.

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Elaine in CA: A fake campfire

My favorite was one where we put together an artificial "campfire" - wood with red & yellow cellophane in the middle & a flashlight underneath it. The kids sat on the floor, then we told some pioneer stories & sang some pioneer songs. Sorry, I was just the Music Leader at the time, so I don't have all of the stories, but I'm sure you could find some at lds.org to suit your situation.