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Make Jewelry Like the Pioneers Did: A History-Themed Craft Project

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 1/17/2012

This fun craft project ties in wonderfully with the history of American pioneers and the students can take their project home and use it as a gift. Students will enjoy learning a new skill as they explore the pioneer world in this fun and easy to do history-themed project!

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    Gather Your Materials

    Gather together the materials below to make your own pioneer jewelry.

    • Pieces of cord, yarn or heavy string.
    • 2 1/2 cups flour
    • 1 cup salt
    • 1 cup water
    • Food coloring
    • Scissors

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    Introduce the Pioneer Theme

    As hard as the pioneers worked, they also tried to combine some socialization with the work. And who likes to get together with other groups of people and not look their best? The pioneers were no different in that respect from any of us. Though silk gowns and tuxedos would not have been practical items to bring along as the pioneers ventured to their new world, rest assured the ladies still tried to wear their best dress when it came to get-togethers. And what's a best dress with no jewelry? Most jewelry would have been sold to pay for the trip west or would have been heirloom jewelry, unsuitable for such things as barn raising. So, what did the pioneers do for jewelry? Like everything else, they simply made it!

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    Make the Jewelry

    Pioneers would have used berries for the food coloring and may have even used sinew in place of yarn or string! Follow the directions below to make pioneer jewelry.

    1. Mix together the dry ingredients from the kitchen.
    2. Separate dry ingredients so that they are in equal parts, with as many equal parts as colors you plan to use.
    3. Separate water into the same amount of equal parts as the dry ingredients.
    4. Use food coloring to color each part of water.
    5. Mix the colored water with the dry ingredients, one equal part at a time until you have different colored batches of dough.
    6. Roll one color of dough flat.
    7. Roll the other colors into small "snakes".
    8. Place the small snakes on top of the flat piece of dough.
    9. Roll the small snakes up inside the dough so that you have a "log". When looking at the log from the end, you should see the different colors of dough. Make this log small enough to be as big around as you would like your beads.
    10. Slice the log so that you have multiple "beads" that are each various colors.
    11. Use a pencil to poke holes in the beads for the string to go through.
    12. Allow beads to dry. Bake them in the oven at about 450 degrees for about an hour to better seal them.
    13. Run the string through the hole in the beads to make a beaded necklace or bracelet!

    Get creative and make all sorts of projects with your beads!

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
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