5th Graders Become Pioneers

As a part of their social studies unit on westward expansion, Linda Beasley’s 5th-grade students have been playing a fun, hands-on game called Pioneers. Pioneers is a simulation activity used to help students understand why and how American pioneers traveled out west in search of prosperity. “In this game, students must fully abandon themselves to the pioneer's lifestyle as they travel west with children, oxen, a wagon with supplies and other items,” Ms. Beasley explained. When the students play the game in class, they must stay in character, thinking and acting as pioneers. The simulation includes selecting supplies for their westward treks and making some tough decisions while navigating dangerous terrain with their families. “It is quite amazing to watch the children forget they have children when they are making decisions about their families on the trail,” Ms. Beasley noted wryly. On Wednesday, the make-believe pioneers and their wagon trains gathered together for a communal campfire meal. Each student was responsible for bringing traditional pioneer food items, including hot cakes, wild berries, turkey, cornbread, potato cake, smoked fish and more. Ms. Beasley and her students are having a fun and engaging time as they continue to study westward expansion in such a unique fashion. “The students and I are very excited and believe this will continue to foster an appreciation of our American pioneers,” Ms. Beasley said.