The Pioneer Trail Game
Open "animal hunt" as a [pdf] or in [Word].
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Hillary writes, "I wanted to do something along the lines of the Oregon Trail game for my Primary sharing time, but as it evolved it turned into a more simple game. I used 30 colored rectangles (1.5 x 2.5) and taped them to the chalkboard for our pioneer trail. (See above picture of how I laid it out at home before church.) I used pictures of trees, animals, etc. and arranged them around the board and I also had a starting point (Nauvoo), an ending point (Salt Lake Valley) and a couple mandatory stops along the way (Stop to hunt).
One team was the blue pioneers/handcart and one was the red pioneers/handcart. Before we started the game we talked about the items the pioneers could take with them. Rather than bring a billion things from home (that would have to be put away when I was done!), I printed out pictures and had them taped to the chalkboard. I picked up each picture and asked if it was something the pioneers could take. If they could we put the picture in (on top of) the handcart bed, and if not I just set it down. The children loved this part of it!
After we “loaded the cart” I split the kids into the two teams and let them roll a paper die. There were the numbers 1-4 on it, a picture of an ox, and a picture of a kettle over a fire. I got my die from The Busy Book Volume 1 for Tiny Tots (from Finch Family Games), which is why it’s not included in the files. (You can easily make your own!) Whatever number they rolled they moved that many spaces. If they rolled an ox they didn’t move that turn since their ox needed to rest (none of them put together the fact that we’d loaded a handcart and that our game markers were handcarts, not wagons with oxen).
If they rolled the kettle/fire then there was an event: i.e., Indians raid camp, lose your turn (not the next turn – they just couldn’t move on current turn); camp member is sick, lose your turn; find something useful along the trail – move forward a space; broken axle, lose your turn; find wild berries to eat, move forward a space. If the children got to one of the mandatory hunting stops, the player who rolled got to “hunt.”
I printed out a bunch of different animals that could be along the trail and taped the sheet of paper to a water bottle (didn’t bother emptying them) and gave them a toy slingshot (because I couldn’t find any of my son’s nerf guns. None of Junior Primary could figure out how to use the slingshot and some of Senior struggled too!). They got 2 shots and if they hit an animal they could feed their party and move ahead a couple of spaces (you could do spaces depending on what animal they shoot? I didn’t think of it till we were playing the second time since nobody in Jr hit at all). If they didn’t hit anything then they just couldn’t move past the hunting stop that turn, even if they’d rolled higher. If there’d been more time it might have been fun to make them stay there each turn until somebody could shoot an animal.
By the way, I got the animals/lbs straight from the OR Trail game and didn’t question them – my husband teased me later that they were way, WAY off! Anyway, the chidlren LOVED this sharing time and several teachers mentioned how fun it was.
Let me warn you though, it was VERY rowdy (although not out of control)! But I think occasionally it’s okay to let them have a little fun, and I think you can still learn about the gospel while you’re laughing and having a good time. Also we didn’t finish the game in Jr but we were able to in Sr. Hope this is helpful to someone else."
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