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Pioneer Craft Homes

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 2/16/2012

What kind of homes did the American pioneers live in? Try this project that involves creating pioneer homes.

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    Pioneer Homes

    Have you ever made a tent in your house? If so, then you know you can use almost anything to create a small tent to play in. but, imagine if you were a pioneer and really had to live in such a home! Combine your life of today with the lives of the pioneer world by completing the project below. Gather together the materials listed and follow the instructions given below.

    Get together the following:

    • Your favorite action figure
    • A small bundle of about 12" sticks.
    • A plain piece of material that is at least 12" x 24"
    • A piece of thick cardboard big enough to cover your desk.

    Don't forget to use your imagination and have lots of fun as you follow the instructions below to make your pioneer home! You may think that you have limited supplies to make your home with, but remember that the pioneers had very few supplies and had to make homes strong enough to survive the weather!

    Imagine that your action figure is a pioneer. What kind of home can your action figure live in? Use only the materials listed above to create a type of home for your pioneer. This home can be a tepee, a lean-to or a log cabin. It all depends how much effort you want to put into it! Try thinking like a pioneer. You would have had to use whatever materials you had on hand. Follow the tips listed below that should help you to figure out how to make a home with only the materials you have right now.

    1. Use the cardboard as your "ground". Putting stakes into the ground often helped the home stay up longer, especially if you are trying to build a tepee or lean-to. Poke a hole in the cardboard then insert your stick into it for strength in your home.
    2. Pioneers often traveled in covered wagons. Once they were where they wanted to be, they would sometimes live in the wagons or at least use the canvas on the wagons as their roof and sides on their tepee or lean-to. Use your material as you would a canvas from your wagon.
    3. Compare the size of your action figure to your "home". Is it big enough for them to live inside it? The home needs at least enough room for the action figure to "sleep" in it.
    4. What made tepees so popular with the Indians? They were portable and the tripod design kept them from being blown over by the wind! Can you make a tripod and cover it with canvas to make a tepee? In truth, this was not the most popular form of housing with the pioneers since they were often afraid of the Indians and did not want to mimic the way the Indians lived.

    Once you finish with your home, use it to build a pioneer town with your classmates or play in it with your action figures!

Lesson Plans for a Pioneer Unit

Use these lesson plans in this series to teach your students about pioneers as part of your history curriculum.
  1. Make Jewelry Like the Pioneers Did: A History-Themed Craft Project
  2. Pioneer Quill Pen Craft for Students
  3. Pioneer Craft Homes