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Pioneers Find Fun

Time Frame

2 class periods of 45 minutes each

Group Size

Large Groups

Life Skills

Thinking & Reasoning




Pioneer children found time to play in order to entertain themselves. The students will become familiar with real pioneer games and the rules. Then they will create a game with rules, that will be taught to the class.


Items collected that might be found in a wagon or along the trail to create games. (ex: rope, blanket, rags, round rock and stick, pebbles, etc.)

Background for Teachers

When pioneers left their homes, only essential items were packed. There was little room for children's toys and games. As a result, the children invented games along the trail to pass the time and created toys from what they could find. They had races and played games such as Sheep Over the River, Hide and Seek, Pull the Rope, and Steal-Stick Duck-Stones. They also sang and danced. They made dolls from corn cobs and rags and used a bladder balloon for ball games.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand the value and reason for rules in a game and create a game with rules. Also, the students will understand the reasons for the games played by pioneer children and learn about the equipment that was available to the pioneer children.

Instructional Procedures


Choose a pioneer game you are familiar with and play it with the students. Divide into smaller groups if necessary. See pioneer games link in step 2 for game suggestions. Review essential questions in the Link below. Talk about how simple pioneer games were and why they did not use elaborate materials to play them. Compare them to games children play today. Divide class into groups of 4-6. Give each group an item found in nature or possibly in a wagon (ex: rope, stick & rock, pebbles, blanket, rags, etc.) Direct each group to create their own pioneer game and record the directions. Share the newly created game with the entire class.

Assessment Plan

The assessment for this lesson could be the results of playing the game. Were the directions clear? Were students able to play the game? Did students enjoy the game? Another assessment would be the written directions for the game. The Writing Organization Rubric could be used to assess the directions for playing the game.

Created: 07/17/1997
Updated: 02/05/2018