How To Lead Pioneer Way Of Life

Pioneer Way Of Life:

Discussion Info:

What Is A Pioneer?:

We are going to talk today about Pioneers, Pilgrims and Settlers. Can anyone tell me what a settler was? (Someone who went someplace to live.) What is the difference between a “settler” and a “pioneer”? (A pioneer was usually someone who went there first.) Do we still have pioneers today? Yes. They go to the moon and under the ocean.) Who was the most famous group of settlers in our history? I’ll give you a hint: we talk about them every year in November! (The Pilgrim) Right! We are going to talk about the life of a settler by exploring the life of the Pilgrims…

Pilgrim History:

The Pilgrims came to this country from another; can anyone name the country? (England. Right! They started out in England. While they lived in England, they had a problem: the Church of England. The Pilgrims said, “We want to worship God this way.” However, James I, the King of England, said, “You will worship God this way, or else…” Can anyone guess what the “or else” part was? (Beaten up, thrown in jail and/or death.) How many of you want to live in a country where you can be killed for worshiping God in your own way? (I hope not!) So, the Pilgrims left. Where did they go? I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t over the ocean! (Holland. Not America, as most groups will say!)

Holland was a good place to lie. The Pilgrims got jobs making something… (Pull on your clothes and see if they can figure it out.) However, Holland had its drawbacks. For example, there was a war going on. How many of you want to live in a country where people are killing each other? (Yeah, right! Put your hands down!) Finally, the war ended. On October 3, while the Pilgrims were still in Holland, they celebrated the first Thanksgiving Feast, thanking God for the end of the war.

However, their problems weren’t over. The next problem they had to face was you kids! You were the cause of them leaving! Just because you wanted to go out and play rather than go to church! You wanted to dress like the Dutch children! You didn’t want to learn your language and culture, but wanted to be like those kids around you! It’s all your fault! (Okay, maybe it’s not. But, just because you weren’t born for another 380+ years, doesn’t mean you didn’t have something to do with it!) So, the Pilgrims decided to find a place to start over! A place where they could worship God in their own way and that their children would learn about Pilgrim ways rather than the culture of another country. So, they moved to…

England! (Ha! I bet you thought I was going to say America. Fooled ya!) They went back to England and prepared to move to America. How many ships did they take. (Not three, that was Columbus. Two is the correct answer.) What is the name of the most famous ship the Pilgrims had? (The Mayflower.) The name of the ship is called the Speedwell. Why haven’t you heard of the Speedwell? Well, the Pilgrims packed their belongings onto both ships and headed out to sea. Part way across the ocean, the Speedwell began to sink. The Pilgrims took it back, pumped the water out, repaired it, took it back out and it began to sink again. They did this two more times before giving up on the Speedwell. (Submarine technology wasn’t as good back then as it is now, especially since the ship was designed to float on the water, not under it!) So, they scrapped the ship, packed everyone on the Mayflower, and headed across the ocean.

The Pilgrims In America:

The Pilgrims arrived in New England (Plymouth Rock) n 1620. What was the month they arrived? (December.) On December 21, 1620, the Pilgrims arrived in the New World and set about preparing for their new life. One of the first things that the Pilgrims did was to build a “common house” to be used for housing the sick. (The rest of the people lived on the Mayflower until more houses could be built!)

Question and Answer:

1.What’ time of year did the Mayflower land in America? (Winter.)

2. Do they have snow on the ground in New England? (Yes.)

3. A little snow or a lot of snow? (A lot! In fact, it was one of the worst winters ever recorded.)

4. Were the ships they had back then large or small. (Small.)

5. Could they hold a lot of food after the Pilgrims and their luggage was on board?

6. What did they do back in Holland? (Made clothes.)

7. Did they know how to farm? (No.) Hunt? (No.) Did they know what to hunt? (No.) Did they know what plants they could eat? (No.) Did they bring a lot of food with them? (No.)

8. Do you see a slight problem? (YES!) What. (Starvation.)

The first winter was very hard on the Pilgrims. Poor and inadequate food, hard work and bad weather made the settlers tired and sick. During the first winter, the colony lost 42 out of its 100 members!

Help Arrives:

Now then, picture this:

You are in a foreign country, far away from anything you know. You are tired, sick, and hungry. Half of your friends and family are dead! You thought that God wanted you to come here, but does it look like God is helping you out? (No.) Right now, all you want to do is go home. Now, imagine that you are a Pilgrim from back then, and one beautiful day a stranger walks into your town. He is like nothing you have ever seen before! He wears a breech cloth and leggings made of deerskin with fur, feathers and beads decorating it; he has red paint on his face; he has long, black hair with a feather braided into it; and he wears high boots made of deerskin.

How do you feel, Pilgrim, seeing this sight? (Frightened.) And they were! They had no idea who this man was or what he wanted. The man’s name was Samoset. He had learned English from sailors who worked along the coast of Maine, and because of this was able to understand the Pilgrims. When he heard about the problems the settlers were having, he told them to wait and that he would return.

Two weeks later. Samoset returned, bringing with him a very famous person (Disney made a film about him ((Not “Pocahontas”!) not too long ago.), named… (Squanto.) Squanto was from one of the Algonquin tribes. When he heard about the problems the Pilgrims were having, he took them to see Chief Massassoit, leader of the Algonquin Indians. Massassoit met with Pilgrims, welcomed them and signed a peace treaty with them. Then, the Algonquins began to teach the settlers about the New World.

All spring and summer, the Pilgrims learned from the Algonquins. They were taught how to plant crops (by putting a fish in with each corn seed, the corn grew better), they were taught a new type of crop they had never seen before (corn), they were taught; how to fish, how to hunt, what to hunt what plants they could eat and what plants could heal their sick.

October 3 came around, the day that the Pilgrims were supposed to celebrate Thanksgiving, but they couldn’t. Why? What do farmers have to do in October? (Harvest.) They were too busy bringing in all the food that the Pilgrims couldn’t stop for the Thanksgiving feast!

The First Feast:

Finally, late November, 1621, the work was done. The Pilgrims now had enough food to last them through the winter; their houses were built; they had plenty of clothes, food and medicines, another ship had come, bringing with it more settlers. The colony was going to survive. To celebrate, they decided to have the first Thanksgiving feast in America. They invited their friends, the Algonquin Indians, and the rest is, as they say, history!

One hundred braves came, dressed in deerskin with fur and feathers. They wore bells on their ankles and red paint on their faces. Can anyone tell me what red paint is? (The will say war paint.) No, actually red paint meant “life”. Most Indians used two different forms of paint: red (made from berries) to signify life, and black (made from ashes) to signify death. Black paint was the true “war paint”, while red meant that the Indians were friendly, and was used at parties and celebrations.

Now, how long did the first Thanksgiving feast last? (Three days.)

With them, the Algonquin’s brought five whole deer. Now then, did they have an oven enough to cook a deer back then? (No.) So, how did you cook a deer? (Over a fire.) The built a thing called a spit. Two “Y” shaped branches were put on either side of a fire, the animal was put on a center pole which was then propped up on the upright poles. The animal was then turn slowly, so it would cook.

Whose job was it to cook the food, the adults or the children? (Adults.) Get this: the job of the adults for three days was to cook the food, eat the food and cleanup! The job of the kids, on the other hand, was to eat the food and play games. Which would you rather be? (Children’)

During the first Thanksgiving, the Indians would have taught you their songs and dances, you would have played their games and you would have each been given a bow and arrow and taught how to shoot. In fact, at the end of the first feast, you would have all been sent out to hunt! Why? You would have been better hunters than the adults! (With a bow, that is. You also would have taught your games and songs to the Indians.

Today, you will get to do many things which the early settlers would have done. Let’s pick up our gear, go outside, and see what we have to do!


Crosscut or Two-man Saw:

To build their houses, the early settlers didn’t have brick or concrete. What did they have? (Wood.) Where did they get it? (By cutting down trees.) This type of saw was used to cut down trees and to cut trees to the proper length for building. It takes two people, each responsible for simply pulling the saw toward them! Have someone sit on the saw-horse (so-called because you use it for sawing and it has four legs like a horse) to steady the log and then saw in a gentle motion. If one person pushes or if the saw does not go through’ straight, will bind and be very difficult to move.

Draw Knife:

This is a cleverly named little instrument. It is a knife and you draw it toward you. Draw knife, get it?) How many of you want to try to stack up round logs to build your houses? (No.) What shape should the logs be? (Square.) To square up a log, you would use a draw knife. Sit down with your knees below the level of the log! (If they are above, you will be pulling a knife blade into your shins! Ouch!) Grab hold of the handles of the knife and place the blade against the wood. The knife is like an inclined plane (a simple tool that they should have talked about), and must be used so that the flat side is against the log and the slope is face-up. (Confusing, I know, but I can show in ten seconds what it takes you a minute to read.) Now, slowly draw the knife toward you. The handles will prevent you from hitting yourself with the blade.

Note: two common mistakes are chopping with the blade (that’s what axes are for) and using it upside-down. If someone complains about the blade is not working right, check that first.

Hand Drill:

Does anyone know how they joined logs to ether when building a house? They could do it in a few different ways: pitch (sap from trees) as a glue” between the logs; clay as a layer which would help to cement the house together; notching the logs (like “Lincoln Logs )that the logs would fit together; or, finally, by drilling holes in the logs and putting wooden “pins” into each log so that they would snap together.

Now that you’ve cut your board, take the piece and drill a hole in the center of it. (If this is turning too much, students may use another log which is stationery.

Ice Tongs:

How do we keep things cold today? (Refrigerators.) Did they have refrigerators back then? (No) So, how did they keep things cold? (Ice.) What they would do was build a place with a lot of insulation so that the ice in the building wouldn’t melt, much like you have thermoses to keep things either hot or cold. Then, they would go down to a river or a lake in the winter time and remove large blocks of ice. They would drag these blocks of ice back up to the building where they would coat them in sawdust to keep them from melting. This way, the ice would last a long time.

Today, you don’t get to cut the ice, but you can play with moving it around. Use the ice tongs to grab a block of wood and move it from one point to another. If it is too easy, move a larger block.

Fun thing to do: time the group on an ice tongs relay. Be careful that they don’t hurt themselves

Food Products:

Ash Cakes:

The early pioneers and explorers would take corn meal (basically ground corn , mix it with water and then bake it on a rock by the fire. Ashes from the fire would fall into the batter and so they were called ash cakes. This was a “staple” food, due to the fact that it was easy to carry and didn’t require a lot of work to prepare it.


Most of you like to have something on your popcorn and pancakes (which is kind of what ash cakes are). What is it? (Butter.) Now, we go to a store and by butter, but back in the days of the settlers, how did they get butter? (They made it.) They had a thing called a butter churn. How many of you have seen one? It looks like a tall, thin round barrel made of wood with a stick coming out of the top. The settlers would milk a cow, skim the cream off, and pour the fresh cream into the churn. They would then move the stick up and down, causing the cream to become butter.

Today, however, we are cheating a little bit: instead of using a churn, we are using jars and are going to shake the cream to turn it into butter. Same idea, just a different way of doing it!

Ice Cream:

You need:

  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 Pinch of salt
  • 1 Can Pet Milk

Measure milk and put in pan. Put eggs in bowl and beat. Add sugar, corn starch and salt. Beat with mixer. Heat milk. Whey hot, add e mixture all at once. Keep stirring until thickened. Turn off heat. Place in refrigerator.

Place mixture in ice cream freezer. Add can of Pet Milk. Add other milk or cream to fill container 3!4 full. Add vanilla.

Fill outside of freezer with ice. Cover with salt. Begin cranking. Approximate cranking time is about 20 minutes, provided that the group does not stop cranking the freezer. You’ll know when done because the contents now look like ice cream. Kind of obvious, isn’t it?)


Popcorn was a gift from the Indians. The settlers had never seen corn before, and knew nothing about it. The Indians taught them not only how to grow it, but different ways to cook it, as well. One of the ways was to make it into popcorn. The Indians would cook the popcorn in bear fat over ay open fire. Popcorn wasn’t just a snack food for the Indians, though. How many of you like it the day after it’s been popped? Two days? Three? How about thirty? The Indians used to eat popcorn for up to 30 days after it had been popped! (Remember: it was cooked in bear fat. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?)


Pillow Pole:

The settlers brought with them a number of games from their how countries. One of the games was called “pillow pole and is something we still (somewhat) play today. How many of you have ever been in a pillow fight? (Same idea, just a little bit more ) The game was played in three different ways:

1. The settlers would prop a log up about three off the ground and put a pile of straw underneath it. They would then sit on the log and try to smack the other person off of it into the straw down below!

2. The settlers would prop a small log about a few inches off the ground. They would then stand on this log and try to hit each other off. The benefit to this was that you could bounce the log to try to shake the other person off!

3. They would stand on two separate logs an o hit each other off.

Whoever touched the ground first was the loser! The challenger is given a choice of which pillow they want. If there is a tie, then both get back up and try again. Head shots are not allowed! If someone hits someone in the head, they automatically lose!

Note: what were pillows stuffed with back then? (Feather.) Are feather pillows hard or soft when you get hit by them? (Hard!)


Candle Making:

If you were a pioneer, how did you light your house at night? (Fire, lamps, and, candles.) How did you make a candle? (Gather bees wax, melt it, and dip some flax (string) in it.) Today, we’re going to make candles…

Have the group gather around. Tie a piece of cotton string onto a stick and have the students walk around the table. They are to dip their string in a pot of wax, then a pot of water. If they leave their string in the wax for too long, or dip it repeatedly in the wax without giving it a chance to cool off the wax already on the string will melt off and they will basically be starting over! The water is there to cool the wax so that it clings to the string.

How long did it take to make your candle? Could you imagine having to make enough to light your entire house for a night? How about enough to light your house for a year!

Natural Plant Dyes:

The Pilgrims were weavers while they were in Holland. In other words, they made cloth! But it wasn’t just enough to make the cloth, they had to do something else to it. What? (Dye the cloth.) If you lived back in the Pilgrim days, you, the children, would have been responsible for helping to dye the cloth. Your job would have been to go out, gather plants, boil them, and find out what colors you can get.

For example: what natural material will dye things green? (Not grass. Not leaves. However, stinging nettles will!) How about brown? (Some barks might, but do you know for sure?) You would have to try to see if it would work. If it didn’t, you would dump the mixture out and start all over again! Sounds like fun, huh?

By the way, colors which you can get from nature include:



Cornflower (Flowers)


Lily of the Valley (Leaves)

Stinging Nettles


Morning Glory (Flowers)


Yellow Onions

Goldenrod (Flowers)

Dahlias (Flowers)



Bayberry (Bark)

Bloodroot Poppy (Flowers)

Red Onion Skins



Alder (Bark)

Blackberry Plant (Leaves)*


Coffee Grounds

Ask (Bark)

Maple (Bark)

Birch (Bark)**

Walnut (Bark / Nuts)

Hemlock (Bark)




Red Bougainvillea (Flowers)

*Tends to be gray, not a full black color.

**Tends to be tan, with faint pink overtones.

Soap Making:

Soap making has a long history. Now, we make our soaps out of chemicals, but, back then, they used lard (animal fat) and lye (water poured through ashes). Soap was first recorded at Mt. Sapo, near Rome, Italy. The people would sacrifice animals at the top of the hill, and the ashes and animal fat would run down the hill in the stream. This caused the clothes to become more clean, and they thought this was the gift of the gods. Now, we know that it is chemistry.

If you take lard, it has a greasy, slimy feel. This is not what you want in soap, is it? (No. Lye is a strong base (pH 14) and can burn your skin!) Do you want to be pouring this on you? (No!) However, when you mix the two together, the lye no longer burns and the lard is no longer slimy! They join together and form soap! (Note: this is still a fairly harsh soap and those with sensitive skin may get minor “bums” from the soap absorbing the moisture from their skin.

Fun fact: today, we use lye as a drain cleaner

6 lbs of fat (lard) + 13 ounces of lye crystals + 2 ½ pints of water = soap!

The reaction, called saponification, takes place when the lard is at approximately 125 degree Fahrenheit and the lye is at 93 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperature is important, otherwise the reaction will not occur!

Have Fun!

Wrap-up Questions:

(Note: bold type, indicates what students should write in their journals.

1. What was one of the main reasons the first settlers came to this country?

Religious freedom. They wanted to be able to worship God in their own way.

2.a. The Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution gives us certain rights and freedoms. Why is it important that the writers of the Constitution put these in first?

There are ten rights guaranteed to us in the Bill of Rights. Some of them are: the right to bear arms (you can own guns for hunting and/or defense), religious freedom (you have the right to worship or not worship God), freedom of speech (you can say what you want as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else) and others.

The reason they are listed first, before the Constitution begins to describe how are government works, is because they are the most important!

2.b. What is the main purpose for writing these down at all?

Can’t be taken away. Can I make you go to my church? (No.) Why not? (The Bill of Rights says I can’t.) Can the government tell you that you can’t go to church? (No.) Why not? (The Bill of Rights.) Can government tell you that you can’t speak in public? (No) Why not? (You get the idea…)

To take away the rights in the Bill of Rights, the government would have to change the way it works. Is that going to happen? (Probably not.)

2.c. How many rights are in the Bill of Rights?


3. With every freedom given to us in the United States, there is a_________


A responsibility is something you should do. Do you have to do it? (No). But should you? When you turn 18, you will have one of the greatest responsibilities you can have as an American citizen. What is it? (Vote.)

If you want to change the way the government works, you must vote! How many of you know someone who complains about the government? Next time you hear it, ask if they voted? If they didn’t, do they have the right to complain? (Not really.)

We can change many things through voting. For example, a bunch of people decided they didn’t want people to pray in schools. They got together, voted, and sure enough, they won! Why? Because those who wanted prayer in schools didn’t… (Vote!) Because of that, prayer was removed from schools. If you don’t vote, does your side win? (No!) Make sure that you vote when you can and, make sure your parents vote in every election. That’s the way you control the government.

Indian Background:

1. Approximately 200-300 different tribes of Indians in the United States.

2. Tribes of Indians were different by REGION:

Plains Indians:

  • Longer hair
  • Less clothing
    • Men wore breech clout or breech and leggings at most in everyday life.
    • Women wore simple dresses.
  • Lived in tepees so they could follow after the buffalo herds.
  • Main foods: buffalo, deer, rabbits, etc.., corn (called maize) ground into flour for baking Long headdresses / Colorful ceremonial costumes
  • Forest Indians:

    • Short, close-cropped hair
    • More clothing (cooler climate in the New England areas)
      • Men wore leggings, breech cloth and shirts (modeled after the shirts worn by the Europeans), boots
      • Women wore dresses and petticoats (long coats which buttoned up the front), moccasins
  • Lived inn Long Houses: Large homes with plenty of room. Made from wooden poles to support the ceiling. Walls were made of skins or wood (log cabin style homes) with bark or skins for a ceiling.
  • Main foods: deer, rabbits, fish, turkeys, etc.., berries, acorns, fene nut (from beech trees)
  • No headdresses. At most, they put feathers in their hair.
  • *Most Indians were very friendly. Only approximately 3 out of 300 were war-like.
  • *Had advanced science:


    • Knew 365.25 days in one year
    • Knew 93 million miles from Earth to Sun
    • Had calendars accurate for the next 13,000 years
    • Calculated solar eclipses


    • Tribes in the rain forest have medicines which we are now looking into
    • Many “old fashioned” cures are being brought back because they work!


    • environmentally friendly” farming techniques

    *Painted faces for war and celebration

    Red paint (made from berries, not blood) means LIFE. Time to celebrate.

    Black paint made from ashes means DEATH. Time for battle.

    *Most Indians have many different holidays and celebrations. They didn’t need excuses to have a celebration, they just did!

    *No Indian Tribe (that I’ve ever read about) EVER said “How!” as a way of greeting another person.

    (This idea, along with the idea that Indians were savages and war-like came about because of Hollywood (movies).)

    *Were Indians cheats and crooks? NO! We ripped them off:

    Bought their land for nothing…

    Example: We bought the Island of Manhattan (now in New York City) for a box of beads worth approximately $26.00. We told them they would be rich. We lied to them and ripped them off.

    Stole their land…

    Example: The Potawotomie Indians that lived around here were rounded up herded like cattle to a reservation in Kansas. We didn’t want to buy their land, so we just moved them off it.

    Took their land…

    Example: Unfortunately, there are a number of stories where white settlers killed off a tribe of Indians, just to take their land. The worst thing is that most of the Indians probably would have helped their new neighbors.

    *Most Indians wore bells, feathers and furs on their outfits during times of celebration.

    *To make an arrow:

    1. Find a’ fairly straight and smooth sapling or tree branch.

    2. Take a knife and shave off the bark and rough spots.

    3. Place it in front of a fire with rocks on it to help straighten out any bends.

    4. Notch the end so that it will fit on a string.

    5. Notch the other end to hold the arrowhead.

    6. Carve a stone into an arrowhead. (This takes a LONG time!)

    7. Soak leather in a bowl of water overnight.

    8. Wrap the arrowhead in the wet leather to hold it in place. When the leather dries, will shrink and hold the arrowhead tightly.

    9. Split feathers in half and “glue” them in place using pine sap.

    *Indian sign language was used:

    1. To communicate between different tribes (though not all used the same signs) 2. To use as markers for territory.

    3. To leave messages for others in the same tribe.

    *Ash cakes:

    Made from corn meal (ground corn) and water

    Baked on a stone in the fire

    Served as a biscuit when hunters were traveling


    Popped in buffalo fat or fish oils

    Used as “traveling food” (they would eat it for up to 30 days after making it!)

    Was mixed with maple syrup to form “crackerjack” (caramel corn)