Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Native American Activities

Hey, everybody.  Long time, no write.  Smile  I am just now getting to where I feel I can take a breath and get back in the groove and start blogging again.  I’ve missed it!  Anyway, my 1st graders have been learning about Native Americans for the past few weeks, just in time for Thanksgiving.  We have read several Native American themed stories, both fiction and nonfiction, learned about and recorded facts about 5 main Indian tribes, completed Native American art projects, made patterned “bead” necklaces, AND made a tepee for our reading center!  Check out some of our pictures.
Native American Pattern Bead Necklaces
To begin I took uncooked pasta, rubbing alcohol, and food coloring and dyed the pasta to make “beads” for our pattern necklaces.  I actually made 5 colors:  red, blue, yellow, green, and black.  The colors were actually much deeper than this because I let them set overnight. 
I made 5 boxes of pasta and I didn’t have enough cookie sheets to lay the finished pasta on to dry so I tried bulletin board paper.  WARNING:  Do not try this!  I have stained the classroom floor and it will have to be stripped and rewaxed to get rid of the stain.  Oops.
After dying the pasta and letting it dry overnight, we used dental floss to make our necklaces!  There was only 1 requirement for making the necklace.  Students had to make a pattern.  We began by discussing the many different patterns students could make with the 5 colors of pasta, and then they were set loose to have fun!  After making their necklaces, they were required to complete a pattern worksheet about their necklace.  This is one of several printables included in my Native American Lessons and Activities package for sale on Teachers Pay Teachers. 
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TIP:  To make it easier for students to manipulate the pasta, I tape one end of the dental floss to an index card that students label with their name.  This makes for easier identification later.  After tying the ends together (several times) I then use a push pin to hang the cards with their necklaces to our bulletin board.  This way the necklaces won’t get tangled if you hang them up separately.  Found that out the hard way!
We also made a tepee for our reading center!  This has always been one of my kids’ favorite Native American activities.  The kids feel it is a great honor to be allowed to read in the tepee, so I use this as an extra incentive for good behavior.  Works like a charm. We painted our Indian symbols on the tepee today, so it is actually much more colorful now.  I will try to post more pictures tomorrow.  If you’re interested in making your own life-sized tepee, I have included the list of materials and step-by-step directions for making this tepee.  Visit my store at
 After putting the tepee together, I let my students paint Indian symbols on the "animal" skin.

Some of the kids’ other most favorite activities are the different art projects we do.  After reading The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola, we make our own Native American self-portraits and come up with our own Indian names.  I encourage students to base their name on something they like to do or something they are good at.  They can be really creative!  Here are a few examples:
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We also completed an art project for the story.  Little Gopher tried to capture the colors of the sunset in the story, so we tried to do the same.  We used white drawing paper and watercolors.  Then we made black tepees (the tepees were silhouetted at sunset) to add to the picture.
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After reading Arrow to the Sun, we made chalk pueblos.
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There are still a few days to go before we finish our Native American unit.  Look back for more pictures and ideas.  Plus, let me know if you have any to share.  I love to hear from others and steal their wonderful ideas! Smile

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