Little Pioneer Children

This week, we are going to sing Little Pioneer Children using the bells.  It has a fun descant part that is great to play using the bells.  I had the thought that if I had those homemade chimes I would use those instead because they are more similar to something the pioneers would have used!  But, what do you do?
I created a bell chart using the optional additional music for this song found in the Children’s Songbook.  Find my bell chart using the access button below.
You can see how I use the bells in Primary by going HERE.  If you’ve never used handbells in primary before, I’d highly recommend this post.
Then I thought it would be fun to have my bell choir wear some “pioneer gear” (ha!).  If you have a bunch of pioneer clothes, I’d simply suggest that you use those.  But I don’t so I made (if that’s what you call it!) 5 vests and 5 pinafores  using these:
Pioneer vests for the boys:
and Pioneer pinafores for the girls:
Both are made starting out the same way:
take your paper bag and flatten it so the sides are poking out instead of inward.  Then flatten the bottom of the bag which will become the top.  Don’t worry about munching the corners as you’ll be discarding these parts anyway. 
 Then take that top flap (the bottom part of the bag) and fold it up so it aligns with the other top part.
Now, for the vests,
cut arm holes, kind of curved. 
 Then unfold that top flap so everything now lies flat.  Cut a nape (for the back of the neck) at the very top.  Then cut up the front and over toward the sides of the neck to make it look like a vest.  I also fringed the bottom (not pictured here…scroll up to the first picture to see it) and turned them inside out so the writing is on the inside.  Easy!
For the pinafores: 
(fold it the same way you did the vests) cut corners of both sides.  When you cut, cut about an inch into the front, past the crease so it will be a little thinner on the chest.
 Then unfold the top and cut a rectangle for the neck, leaving about 2 inch straps.  Cut up the back side pinafore (the opening will be worn on the back).  Then make a little “wave” pattern on the bottom to make it look more like ruffles and turn it inside out to hide the writing.  Again, easy!
I opted to tape the neck portions for reinforcement.  Parts of the bag could be pulled and didn’t all stay together where the bottom met the sides.
And there you have it!  Some cute pioneer children making some great pioneer music!!  How does the song go…”pioneer children sang as they walked and walked and…”

Check out this quick tutorial video for accessing the Resource Library:

These printables are filed on my Resource Library page under Song Title > Little Pioneer Children.


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7 thoughts on “Little Pioneer Children”

  1. Just wondering how this bell chart works? Is it one bell per word, or are we supposed to wait for certain words? Also, I noticed that some of the letters have a II next to it, does that mean to do it twice? (Sry, bell newbie here)

  2. Hi Hailey,

    It's easiest if you look at the music here while I explain:

    The handbell note chart I have posted play the "optional music for round accompaniment or additional instruments" line – there are no words associated with this music. If you notice the time signature is 6/8 – so you can conduct the song in a 2 beat pattern. The little lines in the corner (I and II) indicate the counting. Each note gets one count that has a "I" and the notes that have "II" will get 2 counts. The handbell music comes in right when the melody starts so they begin together.

    If you listen to the music online, that may help you hear that optional melody. I hope that helps some :).


  3. HI Camille,
    I see the above notation and wanted to also ask if the pianist is playing the melody for the kids to sing along as you direct the pipe chimes for the optional accompaniment? Are you pointing to the colored notes as you have kids play them as well as the other kids singing along? If so, how do you manage that? Is there someone leading the singing as you lead the chimes? Do you have those kids come up and play or just stay at their seats and watch you as you point to the chimes chart? Sorry, just a little confused but I really want to try this and make it successful as it sounds like you have been doing this for awhile and know how to manage?


  4. Hi Lynn,

    I think I answered some of your questions on your other comment, but want to comment here as well in case others have the same questions.

    Check out my post here which has more details:

    But to directly answer your question, the pianist plays the melody only. I direct the optional accompaniment. I point to the colored notes with a wooden dowel for the kids to play. The kids without bells are singing, being directed by another leader (usually a primary presidency member). The kids all stay seated and we pass bells, usually every other child has a bell so that way everyone gets a turn every other time we sing. The bells are passed in a big "S" shape through the primary with the child in the back brining their bell up to the front.

    If you have more questions, please let me know.


  5. Thanks. That makes more sense. Do your kids know this song already? I'm assuming we need to have them sing it through a couple times without bells first but do ever have them sing the descant also to be familiar with that or just let them experience that with the chimes while singing the melody? Also, is this something sunbeams can do? I do have music sticks I could have them play to the beat if chimes are not for them.

    1. My primary doesn't know this song. I'll just have them sing it through twice and maybe listen to in on cd. We never sing the descant line, only the melody. Sunbeams love the bells/chimes….just never expect perfection. Most of them will play their instrument whether it's their turn or not and for me, that's totally ok as long as they are engaged. This lesson plan is only to expose them to a pioneer song in a fun way, not to memorize or drill like we do with program songs.

  6. Camille,

    This makes way more sense with the I and II, I can see it in the length of the notes in the descant, and I would just have them ring the bell where the notes in the descant are. I see! I have never done this before and appreciate your help. Especially all the prep to make the bell charts. Thank you!!

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