We recently hosted five girls in our home studio to teach all about the frontier lifestyle. We used the frontier town of Walnut Grove, Minnesota from 1870 as our inspiration. We began with the spectacular modular homes from Little Sapling Toys. Our first step was to treat the outer surface and floors of the houses. We went with a weathered wood look. We did the following steps:

1. Paint a dark color, like navy blue or dark brown, let dry.

2. Apply the crackle medium, let dry. 

3. Apply a final coat of paint, of a lighter color. 

We discussed the Oregon Trail and worked on a large map, coloring in the states and trying to create an understanding of the west and the long distances that the pioneers travelled. 

The first room we worked was the General Store. In the morning they made apples and corn with Sculpey Premo. They made pinch bowls out of non-hardening clay

They took turns on the sewing machine to sew a burlap bag and stuffed it with newspaper and sand to make it look like a bag of flour. The shelves are made of balsa wood. 

To help the students understand how things took more time when living like a pioneer, we wanted to dye some fabric. We used tea, beets, turmeric, and blueberries (boiled in water and mixed with a little bit of vinegar). We should have let the fabric rest in the dye for an hour, but the girls wanted to play 'pioneer' so we let them proceed to do the washing in a large metal basin ;) The dye that worked the best was turmeric. 

School house: We painted the walls with two layers of chalkboard paint. We used this tutorial for making school desks. We pre-cut the cardboard pieces, but the students glued everything on their own. They use hot-glue for the toothpicks since this is a fast-drying glue. 

One of my favorite projects was the pencil holder. We had cut up some toothpicks as preparation, and then the students painted them with yellow, black, and pink for eraser. The holder is rolled up paper with a circle hot-glued to the bottom. 


We discussed the Pony Express and made horses with air-drying clay. After using the clay we painted the horses and applied a varnish to let them harden.



Leave a comment