TIME TRAVELERS: Students step back in time at Pioneer Days

Published 2:00 am Saturday, October 10, 2015

MESSENGER PHOTO/JAINE TREADWELL Much to the amusement of his young audience, Davy Crockett, a.k.a. Al Bouler flashed his grin that would stop a bear dead in its tracks.

Much to the amusement of his young audience, Davy Crockett, a.k.a. Al Bouler flashed his grin that would stop a bear dead in its tracks.

Pioneer Days at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama got off to a huge and successful start Friday with more than a thousand students from area schools participating in the hands-on journey back in time.

Pioneer Days will continue from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. today and the public is invited to attend.

Admission is $6 with children under the age of five admitted free. The admission price includes the Bruce Brennan’s Wild West Show at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

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Kari Barley, museum director, said Friday was especially designed for students and students from10 schools participated in a variety of hands-on history activities that demonstrated what life was like during the pioneer days.

“This was the largest number of students we have had a Pioneer Days and we hope to have that many and more people of all ages for Pioneer Days today,” she said. “Anyone who enjoys learning about history and the people who paved the way for us today will enjoy Pioneer Days.”

Sharon Harris, fourth grade teacher at Banks said, as always, Pioneer Days was a lot of fun and a great benefit to the students.

“The field trip to Pioneer Days ties in so well with our study of Alabama history,” Harris said. “We were able to cover in one day what it would have taken us several weeks to cover in the classroom.”

Harris said there is no substitute for hands-on experiences.

“Pioneer Days brings history to life,” she said. “The re-enactors were dressed in character and the students really enjoyed seeing and hearing them. Davy Crockett had a monologue that really kept the students’ attention.

“We enjoyed everything about Pioneer Days and the students learned a lot from the experience. The museum staff had everything well organized. It was a good learning experience for our students.”

The museum grounds were alive with history throughout the day.

Students from Montgomery to Dothan experienced the fun of learning that included rope making, basket weaving, woodworking, woodstove cooking, spinning weaving, outdoor cooking and making corn shuck dolls.

The school marm held class in the Little Red Schoolhouse and a circuit rider preached and led the singing in the Log Church. Stories were told on the porch of the dogtrot house and sausage was hung in the smokehouse. Davy Crockett was on site telling his tales; Cowboy Bruce Brannen was cracking his whip, and the Civil War soldiers were firing their muskets.

Kasey Baker, teacher at Wares Ferry Elementary School, said her students are interested in early pioneer life and were excited to have an opportunity to experience the early way of life.

“We have been reading ‘Boom Town’ and the story prepared the students for the field trip to Pioneer Days,” Baker said. “We are going to begin a unit on community in social studies so the two tie together really well.”

Baker said children today are involved with electronic devices and Pioneer Days is an opportunity for them to be outside and learn about the way life used to be.

“And, they are all over it,” she said. “They are having a good time learning about pioneer days and ways.”

Lisa McNeill summed up the day’s experience in saying that Pioneer Days is an opportunity for students to get a true idea of what pioneer life was like.

“Pioneer Day is an experience that students can’t get from reading a textbook,” she said. “This is really living history and it’s a great way to learn.”