Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pioneer Day!

Pioneer Day-related Singing Time
A friend recently told me that his son still remembered making butter during Singing Time over a year ago. I too, still remember when I was about seven years old and participated in a series of fun primary activities, including milking a cow (plastic glove with holes punched into the fingertips), and making my own butter. I was amazed as I shook my little jar of heavy whipping cream, and it turned into a delicious butter.

Until now, I have not done a single Singing Time activity that involved food. I worry about food allergies, being reverent, and bribing children to be reverent (not really the most effective way, eh?). That said, I am excited to make an exception this time, and use making butter to talk about our Mormon Pioneer heritage. This will help make it more memorable. I just want to make sure that I have very clear tie-ins to our church history and music, and that we are not just making butter for the sake of making butter.

With that in mind, I am having the children make butter for Singing Time, but we will sing Pioneer Day songs, and I will relate the music and butter-making to real Mormon Pioneer stories. The children can then sample their own butter on Hard Tack. I reference the recipe for that near the bottom of this blog.

Here's my homemade Hard Tack:

Even if a child's pioneer ancestors aren't the ones we picture (for example, my parents are both converts), we all still have pioneers somewhere in our heritage, by the definition of a pioneer.

"Of course, not every child in the Church is descended from these early pioneers. But everyone has a pioneer story in his or her life. Perhaps a child’s grandparents were baptized after meeting missionaries. Maybe a parent traveled from one country to another to start a new life. Even children can be pioneers when they accept the gospel or help their families keep the commandments. No matter our story, we can all be proud of our 
heritage, a word defined in this month’s Bulletin Board."

The Songs
I will focus on singing two Pioneer songs. Our primary president invited members of our ward to come to primary and share stories about their pioneer ancestors, I believe with the tie-in to this week's theme of Honesty. We will sing songs between stories.

I will start by reminding the children that Pioneer Day is coming up (if the presidency hasn't already), and talk about how the pioneers sang as they crossed the plains to arrive in Salt Lake City.

I will quote part of  Elder L. Tom Perry's thoughts from July 2012 and remind the children that they can use music the same way in their own lives:

L. Tom Perry
"On the 24th of July, we celebrate the arrival of the pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley. They left everything behind—their homes, their businesses, their farms, and even their beloved family members—to journey into a wilderness.The pioneers danced and sang as they crossed the plains. It was a way they kept their spirits high in the face of tremendous hardships. With firm faith in God and their leaders, the early pioneers went to work to create beautiful communities in the shadows of the mountains. What a glorious legacy of faith, courage, and ingenuity those noble pioneers have left for us to build upon."

I chose the two Pioneer songs in the Children's Hymn book that I thought would be appropriate, fun, and easy to learn since we will only work on them this one Sunday. I may end up only singing one song, but either way, I will simply put up a flip chart that someone else made, have them sing it with me once with the flip chart, and then move into the activity, with the flip chart.

There are so many flipcharts out there but I chose these two:

Pioneer Children Sang as they Walked - page 214
Flipchart made by Sandy Elcock.

The Handcart Song - page 220
Flipchart for the Handcart song by Mary Ann Clements.

Ways to sing this song with the butter:
1. Sing it and shake the jar the first time.
2. Get up and "walk and walk and walk" to Pioneer Children Sang as they Walked the second time.
3. Smack bottle against hand and sing to the beat of the song the third time. This is helpful as the cream thickens and it feels like nothing is happening as they shake their bottles.

Making Butter - The Pioneer Story
I will talk about our Pioneer ancestors by quickly sharing a few main insights:

  • Our ancestors may not have been Mormon Pioneers, but we honor them because they paved the way for us.
  • Thousands of pioneers traveled by foot over hundreds of miles to find a place where they would be welcome and can settle their families.
  • The trek was very hard. Many became very ill, some died, and many were very hungry and very tried most of the journey. I want to have them make butter today, so I can remind them that the early pioneers did a lot more for themselves, rather than just going to a store to buy things, and this included things like making butter. I also want to remind them though that on the trail, they had so little food that  even butter was quite a luxury, but that they definitely made butter when they got to Salt Lake City. And that it seems that some were able to make it while on the trail.
I am disturbed that I can't find a source for this quote to validate it, but this is the quote I want to read:

"The way we made our butter was we'd milk the cows in the morning and strain the milk into lg. churns, which were put in the back of the wagon. at night, through the constant motion of the wagon all day, there would be pieces of rich yellow butter clinging to the sides of the churn; some of which 
would be the size of goose eggs." From the diary of a 12 year old girl on the Mormon Trail, 1850

Stuhr Museum is one of many that list this story (without documenting the name of the source, grrr! hard to verify its accurate). They have several pioneer recipes here. I was going to bring crackers for the butter but I think I might make one of the flapjacks or something. Right now, I am leaning toward making Pioneer Hardtack (scroll down) to go with the butter, as found at The recipe was too long to post in this already long post, but just scroll to the bottom of the Pioneer Hardtack recipe page.

I also found a short butter to emphasize what a treat it was to a small budget, that I wanted to mention if there was time:
Until We Reach the Valley-O

" Not much variety of food, for our mother was desperately poor, but what there was, was fit for princes—just white light buttermilk biscuits with butter, clear water from the creek, and dark, sweet, sticky fluid called “Molasses.” "

Making Butter - The Recipe
Heaving whipping cream
Pinch of salt
Jar (bottle)

Place cream in jar with a pinch of salt. Leave plenty of room to shake your jar of liquid. Then shake! Eventually (20 minutes) it will start to turn to cream, then to butter. Pour out the liquid. Spread the butter on something yummy! (The liquid will make the butter go rancid faster so if you are planning to not eat the butter right away, you'll want to actually pour out the liquid, and rinse it.)

A friend that works at business that makes nutritional supplements donated bottles to give to each child to make butter. Clear bottles would be better but if you can get them free, do it! I started calling pharmacies (another individual's suggestion in our primary blog world) but a good friend of mine took care of that problem for me very quickly.

Other Ideas from that I wanted to use, time pending (which is unlikely):
Have 1776 Family Home Evening
Some fun ideas of other activities you could do during Singing Time and Sharing Time.

A Melting Pot of Pioneer Recipes
This is a good reminder that while making butter is a pioneer "thing," it was certainly not something every pioneer did because the first pioneers had so little.

Other Stories
LDS Girls in the Pioneer West
This talks about how common of a chore it was to make butter.

They Walked 1300 Miles
There are many stories here but I like how this one applies to butter:

When handcart pioneers are mentioned, most minds turn to the tragic story of the Willie and Martin handcart companies of 1856. But they were only two of 10 handcart companies, and the only two devastated by tragedy. Following is the story of the first and second handcart companies—captained by Edmund Lovell Ellsworth and Daniel D. McArthur, respectively—as told from the journal accounts of those who walked the 1,300 miles from Iowa City, Iowa, to the Salt Lake Valley.

“Count the Steps”

Two days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, the Saints held a meeting in the old Bowery. Mary Powell wrote, “My little sister Annie, age four, had been promised a big piece of bread and butter when she reached the valley. [She had walked all the way by the side of Captain Ellsworth, and he put her on his shoulders when they came into the valley.] Just as we were lined up to hear a few words from Brother Brigham, a lady held up a piece of bread and Annie ran toward her. ‘That’s my piece of bread and butter!’ she cried joyously. At the sight of this, President Young wept. ‘God bless the child!’” 16

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