Teaching Cleveland
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Elementary School Edition: K-5

Lesson 3

Early Pioneer Foods


To introduce students to the different foods eaten by Early Cleveland settlers and the methods of preserving and preparing the foods.



trencher, puncheon


  1. What foods were available for early Cleveland settlers?
  2. How did they prepare the meals? What were their methods of cooking? Utensils used? Materials available?
  3. How did they preserve fresh foods for future use during the winter months?


  1. Survey the class for their favorite foods. Discuss ingredients and recipes for some of their foods. How do they get the ingredients? Where do they store the perishable ingredients? How often do they have to shop for their foods?
  2. Question students for ideas of what they think early settlers ate for food? What might a child in 1796 say is their favorite food? How did they prepare their foods?
  3. Read to the students the short story "A Meal in the New Cabin" and discuss. What foods did the early pioneers eat? What foods were they able to get from the countryside? What different ways did they preserve their foods? What meats were available to them? How did they get them?
  4. Ask students to compare and contrast the food early Cleveland settlers ate to foods people eat today. How is food preparation and preservation different today?
    Group Activity: Divide students into groups and provide a poster paper for each group. Ask them to categorize pioneer foods into the basic food groups. What foods that we eat today would be categorized into the same food groups? Have each group design a poster that shows the categories they decided upon and what foods of 1796 and the present are represented.
  5. Distribute Recipe Handout with students. As a class activity you may choose to prepare johnny cakes in class. Write the recipe on the board and have students recite ingredients as they are prepared. Make butter in class. While students are "churning" the mixture, have the class recite the chant for churning butter. Or you may have students volunteer to prepare recipes at home and bring them to class to share.
  6. Distribute grade appropriate puzzle or wordsearch activity for students to complete.

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