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Pioneer Life: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Angela Burke

Angela has over ten years of teaching experience in Special Education, classroom teaching and GT. She has a master's degree in Special Ed with an emphasis in Gifted.

How would you like living in a home with dirt walls and floors? Pioneer life was not for the faint of heart! In this lesson, you will learn about the lives of the spirited and courageous pioneers.

Pioneer Spirit

Would you have the courage to pack up everything you own in a covered wagon and travel 2,000 miles across prairies, hills and mountains while braving blazing heat, thunderstorms, blizzards, and possible attacks from Native Americans? If so, you have the adventurous heart of a pioneer. Pioneers are people who do things for the first time. American pioneers were the first people to explore and settle the western part of the United States.

Moving West

Have you ever been given something for free? What if it was land? Many pioneers left their homes in the east and traveled west because land was cheap and they wanted to be farmers. Some pioneers were shopkeepers, doctors, ministers and veterinarians. The Oregon Trail was a famous trail pioneers followed in the 1840s as they ventured west toward Oregon. Many never made it to Oregon, but instead stopped along the trail to make their homes. Let's take a look at the life of the pioneers!

Map of the Oregon Trail
OR trail

Pioneer Life

The American pioneer lived life much differently than we do today! Pioneers had to use the land and materials around them to survive. They also relied on help from their neighbors, even if they lived miles away!

If pioneers were lucky enough to settle along a river where there were trees, they could build a cabin. But in places surrounded by prairie, trees were not plentiful. Pioneers built sod-houses, which were homes constructed of the top layer of earth, including grass, dirt and roots. Special plows cut sod bricks to make the walls of a home. Windows and a door were added if there was enough money. Because of the three-foot-thick walls, sod houses were warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. They had dirt floors and were usually one room.

Sod House
Sod house

Pioneers had stoves in their homes, but they didn't burn wood because there wasn't a lot of it. And coal was too expensive. What do you think they used? They used chips, which were the droppings from cows or buffalo!

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