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The City Journals

Ridgecrest fourth-graders learn pioneer activities

Apr 03, 2018 03:48PM ● By Julie Slama

Ridgecrest fourth-graders learn the Virginia reel as part of their curriculum of learning about Utah. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]


Ridgecrest fourth-grader Lilith Stewart just finished looping a button on rope and made it spin, just like pioneers did when they arrived in Utah.

“It’s really fun,” she said about her button spinner. “It’s something I can do in the car instead of always using technology.”

Lilith, who was excited to learn the Virginia reel and know what herbs early settlers used as medications, was one of 125 fourth-graders who had the opportunity to try pioneer games and activities as part of their class curriculum to learn about Utah.

“We have the activities align with their social studies on why pioneers came to Utah and to let them have an authentic experience,” said fourth-grade teacher Ashley MacArthur. “In class, we’ll learn Utah geography — how it helped the pioneers and how it didn’t — and we’ll study our environment — wetlands, forests, deserts, mountains. These pioneer day activities will teach students more about what pioneer children did when they weren’t helping or doing chores.”

Students rotated through stations that included potato sack races, whirligigs and Jacob’s ladders, making butter, learning pioneer dances, listening to pioneer stories and eating scones.

The last was fourth-grader Lucia Giorgio’s favorite activity, although she liked trying to make butter like she had read about in pioneer books.

MacArthur said that students will read about those who first lived in Utah, including the Utes, Goshutes, Shoshones, Piutes, Fremont, Anasazi and Navajo, as well as the mountain men and the early settlers who farmed, created the first territorial capitol and those who came to Utah for religious freedom.

Fourth-grader Jack Ririe, who was in line for the potato sack races, was looking forward to learning about the famous people he’s heard about.

“I’m excited to learn about the pioneers and tribes I’ve heard about,” he said.

His mother, Michelle, said she likes to volunteer when she can.

“Jack’s been so excited for this day — to try all the activities,” she said.

Lilith’s mother, Stacy, said that not only was she learning how to make butter like her daughter, but she also was getting to know her classmates.

“It’s fun to do this together and it makes for stronger school community,” she said.