ACES students at Hyde Park and Golden Rule elementary schools just completed an interactive study of the western expansion of civilization across America. Dressed in colonial clothing and gathered around simulated campfires, the second and third graders talked about the trials and tribulations experienced by the nation’s earliest settlers as they braved danger, bad weather, disease and other hardships during covered wagon trips that took months to complete.

ACES students at Hyde Park and Golden Rule elementary schools just completed an interactive study of the western expansion of civilization across America. Dressed in colonial clothing and gathered around simulated campfires, the second and third graders talked about the trials and tribulations experienced by the nation’s earliest settlers as they braved danger, bad weather, disease and other hardships during covered wagon trips that took months to complete.


"For young students in today’s modern world, the study is an eye opener," said ACES teacher and curriculum coordinator Debra McNair. "Pioneer children didn’t have toys; they had to make their own. Our students made toy buzz saws out of yarn and buttons. They also churned their own butter, and made and tasted the kind of dried fruits and foods that had to sustain our early settlers during the long months of moving across the country. They love to experience these kinds of things. It makes the learning more meaningful and applicable."


One student named Abby was awed by the amount of patience the pioneers had to have. Other students said their favorite activity was making the buzz saw toy. Still others were amazed that the pioneer children had to totally entertain themselves.


Logan’s favorite part of the learning project was "making butter from cow’s milk, and also when they had to take apart their wagons at the top of a mountain."


Amy commented on "how difficult their chores were and how hard it was for them to find food." Sam and Alicia liked "shaking milk until it turned to butter," which Alicia said "took a really long time." Jacie liked "making our own toys for entertainment and making up games."


Connor enjoyed drying apples to eat and learning that it takes a long time to do that. Lauren loved sitting around the campfire and reading "Apples to Oregon."


"They learned a lot about early life in America, lessons that they will remember for a long time," said McNair. "As an added bonus, I think they also learned to be thankful for the many conveniences and blessings that they enjoy in today’s modern world."