Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pow Wow

Kindergaten Pow Wow, the culminating activity for a Native American unit of study and annual Chets Creek tradition was held on Friday morning. The event which gets deeper and more authentic each year was a combined effort of Kindergarten teachers, paraprofessionals, parent volunteers, and our wonderful resource team. Furthermore, to enhance the week, this year, there was a special Fifth Grade connection.
Each of our eight Kindergarten classrooms studied a different Native American tribe. The tribes included the Inuit, Hopi, Nez Perce, Seminole, Sioux, Iroquois, Nootka, and Lenape.

Students researched the tribe and as a homework assignment created a cardboard cut out of a Native American to represent how their tribe dressed. Teachers, paraprofessionals, and parent volunteers created costumes for each student representing the attire of their tribe for students to wear for the day of celebration. Students gave themselves a Native American name which adorned their costume in some way.

In addition, during the unit of study students made artifacts to learn about their tribe. For example, Mrs. Alvarado and Mrs. Timmons' Nooktas made beaded bracelets, woven baskets, hunting spears, cedar bark robes, bearskin cloths, decorated headbands, and animal skin medicine bags.

Tuesday evening there was a Make & Take parent night. Families joined us for dinner and then went to their child's classroom to create a structure which sheltered their tribe. For example, Mrs. Mallon and Mrs. Dillard's students created wigwams, Mrs. Lankford and Mrs. Meissner's students created a chickee, and Mrs. Alvarado and Mrs. Timmons' students created a plankhouse.

In the state of Florida, our fifth grade standards also include the study of Native American tribes. As part of the fifth grade unit of study, students worked in groups to create dioramas to represent their tribes. Earlier in the week, the Kindergarten students visited the fifth grade classrooms for a presentation on their tribes. As part of the Family Night, the fifth grade students displayed and did oral presentations on their dioramas for families. Families received a special passport and upon completion of visiting the diorama centers went to the dining room to receive a special beaded bracelet from Chief Jumping Frog, Principal Phillips. In addition, Friday, the day of the culminating event, fifth grade students assisted by holding the flags for each tribe and roping off the area to keep students safe and the gathering area clear.

The morning of the big event, the stage had been set. The tee pee was fully assembled with the interior set for student instruction, the pavilion adorned with palm branches and full of artifacts including deer antlers, snake skins, mounted bear and wild cats, the fire had been built, and classrooms were prepared with centers to celebrate Native American foods, crafts, and artwork.

The audience including first grade students and Kindergarten families. The music sounded and the Pow Wow began. Chief Red Cloud welcomed the students and families and Chief Jumping Frog introduced each tribe as they joined us in the celebration area. Chief SingUmSong directed the music and Chief Red Cloud introduced each of the Native American dances as students danced a traditional dance. Then, Chief SingUmSong introduced two songs and dances. Chief Chets Creek followed as he beat a drum and chanted. The celebration concluded with Chief Jumping Frog sharing a story of how the tribes once lived and worked the land to survive.

After the ceremony, students spent the day in centers. They heard Native American stories and tales, saw some of the animals that roamed near their tribe, ate food their tribe may have eaten, sang songs, and created artwork out of food dyes, to name just a few.

I'm sure everyone involved including teachers, paras, parents, and students left absolutely exhausted from their day of learning and fun. I couldn't think of a more memorable culminating activity for this Native American unit of study. In fact, I have a High School son, Little Bear, and a Second grade son, Shining Moon, who participated when they were in Kindergarten. They each have fond memories of this special day and have kept their artifacts as lifetime keepsakes. Our school community provides such rich experiences for children, and for that, I am grateful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Almost three years after your post, I want to say that this is absolutely incredible. What an interactive, engaging way to teach this topic. Proof positive that learning and fun are NOT mutually exclusive, and of the learning potential when they're combined!