Have you imagined what it would be like to live like the pioneers did?
Could you imagine living in a house without electricity, running water or technological advancements said to make our life easier?
When I was in university I worked weekends and summer as a costumed interpreter at a pioneer house museum. Since we dressed the part and 'lived' in the house for the day I got a very deep understanding of how pioneers would live. And I was very appreciative of my running water and electricity when I got home from work!
It was a hard life since they had to make everything by hand, but you really appreciate things so much more when you put a lot of work into creating it!
I only worked there for a year but I learned so much and still (30 years later) can appreciate the simple yet hard work life they lived.
Learning about Pioneers is a unit study for ages 4-6 that I put together using the information we used to share with the children that would visit the museum house.
It is a fun starting point in the study of Pioneers which you can download from the Quite a Character Classroom.
There are many activities we can do today to immerse a child in making and creating, much like the pioneers would do.
You can garden with children to grow food. This is a full year event that can start with planning, planting, caring for, harvesting and even canning and freezing. A pioneer garden would have food to eat, herbs for healing and even plants that they could make into fiber (like flax).
Making candles is another activity that is inspired by pioneer life. There are a few different ways to do this, the most accurate one for pioneer times would be the drip method. Here you would repeatedly dip the wick into the fat to build up the candle. Pioneers also had molds that they could pour fat into to make candles. An easy candle making activity you could try too would be rolling beeswax candles.
This kind of activity (and especially a butter making one) can really show children the amount of time and effort it would take to make something. Candles were so important in pioneer days since there wasn't any indoor lighting so making candles was a regular chore.
Perhaps you can help your child learn a hobby that allows them to make something they can use. Maybe knitting, or sewing, woodworking or macrame. Understanding the amount of time and effort that goes into something will create a better appreciation of things and maybe inspire them to create new things on their own!
Plant medicine was another interesting thing I learned while working at the museum. Check out my blog post There is Always Time for Tea to find out some of the healing aspects of herbs.