Classroom activities on Daniel Boone should revolve around pioneer life and his expeditions into uncharted territories. Boone was one of the first frontiersmen to explore and settle in Kentucky and later became a politician and businessman. You might start your unit by reading the book "Daniel Boone: Trailblazer" by Nancy Allen, to help elementary-school students understand and identify with his life.
Ask students to write a one-page journal entry from Boone's perspective, as if they had just finished a long day exploring Kentucky. They might discuss what they saw, how they felt or what they were fearful of. To add authenticity to the assignment, ask them to date their journals the current day, but list the year as 1775. Boone was a huntsman and trapper, so they might also discuss their attempts to find animal pelts to trade. The aim is to help students practice writing journals from the first-person point of view and consider the hardships and successes Boone faced on an average day.
Coonskin Hat Artwork
Have students draw Boone's coonskin hat and list facts about his life next to the hat. Provide legal-size paper and colored pencils. Allow students to visit the school library or go online to research interesting tidbits about Boone. Students can design their hats to look like authentic coonskin replicas or decorate them with wild colors and designs. For young elementary students, you might provide a template of a coonskin hat and ask kids to make a short acrostic using the letters "B-O-O-N-E," such as "B" -- Boone liked coonskin hats, and "O" -- Opened doors in Kentucky. Have students read their fact sheets aloud to the class.
Letters to Settlers
Instruct students to write a letter to a pioneer friend, persuading him to bring his family to Kentucky to settle. Ask students to write the letter as if they were Boone, offering details and support as to why there are benefits to making the trip. Encourage your class to list warnings or advice that might make the trip safer and more rewarding. Students might discuss economic benefits, such as pelt trading and farming, or the advantages of moving inland away from coastal cities. Tell students to sign their letters "Daniel Boone," and post them on a classroom wall or in the hallway for others to read.
Fort Boonesborough Drawings
Ask students to draw an example of a Boonesborough-like fort. Show your class pictures of Fort Boonesborough, so they get an idea of the structure and fortification system. Instruct students to label the different parts of their forts and provide keys or legends to explain the features. Encourage students to use their creativity to add elements that might have been useful during that time, such as community fire pits for cooking, outhouses for bathrooms and nearby streams for fishing.
- Daniel Boone: Trailblazer; Nancy Allen
- Pelican Publishing Co.: Classroom Activity Guide for Daniel Boone Trailblazer by Nancy Allen
- Apples4theTeacher.com: U.S. History Website -- The Kentucky Settlers at Boonesborough
- Kentucky Educational Television: Electronic Field Trip to Fort Harrod and Fort Boonesborough
- Photo Credit Keith Eddleman/iStock/Getty Images