We had so much fun with Pioneers last Sunday. I brought a bunch of Pioneer clothes and we trekked to the Salt Lake Valley. I've done this for the last three years and the kids always love it. Here's what I did.
PICTURES: I collected pioneer pictures to be our landmarks, some from lds.org and others from google. I taped them on the wall starting at one far end and spread them out to reach the other end. You could put them all the way around the room if you wanted. I also printed and laminated a little pioneer boy and girl. We moved them from one landmark to the next if we sang the song well. This pdf of pioneer pictures has nine labeled landmark pictures in order from east to west.
COSTUMES: I brought two baskets of costumes, one for girls and one for boys. The girls' basket had a bunch of bonnets and pioneer skirts. The boys' basket had hats and kerchiefs. Aprons and vests would be great, too, but I didn't have any. I needed to have enough costumes for one class at a time. I asked a gal in our ward to lend me a few bonnets, you might know someone who has a bunch. For the boys' hats I went through our dress-up box and used straw cowboy hats and Indiana Jones hats.
OBJECT: To sing our way to the Salt Lake Valley. We had to sing a song to get from one landmark to the next. The little pioneer boy and girl were our markers. I chose a class to come up and put on the costumes and be our judges while we sang. If we did well, someone in the 'dressed-up' class would move the little pioneer boy and girl to the next landmark picture. Sometimes we didn't sing so well and we only made it half-way to the next landmark. I always asked them if they wanted to try it again and of course they did. You can pre-assign songs to the landmarks or you can just wing it.
SONGS: We mostly reviewed our program songs but I did add "Pioneer Children Sang as they Walked" for the Junior Primary and "Come, Come Ye Saints" for the Senior. I let them use hymn books when we sing a hymn for a holiday like this.
TIP: In Junior Primary I had the class that was dressed up like Pioneers walk across the front of the room and back while we sang the song. They loved it and it helped get some wiggles out.
WHY I LIKE THIS: Pioneer stories are especially close to my heart ever since my husband and I were Trek Masters three years ago, and then trekked with our stake the next year. I like being able to take a moment and share a quick story about a picture if I feel inspired. This time I shared a little bit about the river crossing, how the stronger people carried the weaker ones across. I asked the older kids to imagine if they would be able to carry a little brother or sister across a frozen river and how hard that would be. We talked about how we have to do hard things for others and that helps us be like our Savior. We sang "I feel My Savior's Love" after that.