July 24th, 1847 is the day that Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley. In the LDS Church, we commemorate that event with pioneer songs, parades and activities to some degree throughout the church. Probably less so here in Phoenix than in Utah, but still, it is an important date to us. One of my ancestors was a pioneer who came from Denmark on one of the last wooden sailing vessels to then make the trek to Salt Lake first by train then by handcart. On the way, his mother and older brother died of cholera. His father was already gone before they embarked on the trip. This left my great grandfather and his siblings orphans. They were cared for and raised by other members of the church when they reached Salt Lake. His name was Niels Rasmussen.
So, because of this family history, I have a strong love for Pioneer Day. I don't want to only spend 1 Sunday singing Pioneer Songs. I want to make it more special than that. This Sunday is the week before the actual 24th. In past weeks, I have introduced a couple of pioneer songs, so the kids are beginning to be familiar with them. In the midst of singing the pioneer songs, we also need to practice our Sacrament Meeting Presentation songs, especially, "I Love to See the Temple". The kids know the first verse really well, but they are a little week on the second verse. I have decided to tie this song to the idea of the Pioneers having to leave Nauvoo, shortly after the temple was built there and how the temple work was being done around the clock as they were also leaving to avoid persecution. Joseph Smith had just been killed and they were being driven from their homes. Brigham Young was leading them and as they looked back at their beautiful city and temple, they saw the temple burning. The story of their trials is heart wrenching. What a blessing that they had the knowledge that their families are eternal. I want our children to understand the sacrifice those pioneers made in order to uphold their religious freedom.
For this week I have created a wagon wheel spinner for the kids to use to choose the songs that we will sing. When the spinner lands on "I Love to see the Temple", I will talk about the Nauvoo Temple and use some Primary Symbol pictures found on LDS..org to review the song. I also have pictures to review the Pioneer Songs. It is pretty simple and not that fancy, but I think the kids will like it. Here was my process:
! I will use some of the girl's sing/boy's sing signs on some of the songs and other variations to mix things up. I will have kids come up and hold pictures.
Next week will be the actual 24th of July. I think that I will make a fake campfire and have the kids sit around it. I'm debating about making butter that they can shake in rhythm as they sing. I need to check with my Primary President and see what she thinks. But, I will fill you in when I decide what to do. I just want to make it special and have the kids learn why we sing these songs and understand their heritage.
If you have any great ideas for making this Pioneer Day special, please share! If you want to make some pioneer bonnets, I found this tutorial. I'll let you know how this week goes!
Creators of Hot Cocoa Bombs! (copyrighted)
Helen Reynolds: Mother of six children , grandmother to eleven! I love to cook, craft and create things and I especially love doing that with my family, So, when my lawyer daughter, Lindsey, my artist daughter, Madalynn, and I came up with the idea of Hot Cocoa Bombs, this blog was born. Then, one more daughter, with her technical and science skills, plus creativity has joined in to round us out! Read more about us here!