Thursday, November 24, 2016

Tripod Rock, NJ

Took a hike out to Tripod Rock in northwest NJ.  It is said to be a spiritual energy vortex and a sacred Native American site.  It was beautiful and quite powerful.  Can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Lakota Wolf Preserve, NJ

Took a trip out to the Lakota Wolf Preserve in northwest New Jersey to visit with the animals so revered by Native Americans.  We learned about how sacred the wolf was to the Native Americans and also read some folktales involving wolves to prepare for the trip.

The guides were amazing educators and caregivers.  What they are doing to protect these endangered animals is heartwarming!  In addition to meeting a number of different breeds of wolves we also met a few bobcats and foxes.  And of course read some tales about them on our way home!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Writing a Folktale

I wrote a very poor version of the Native American folktale, "How Chipmunk Got It's Stripes", and gave it to the girls to revise.  I asked them to organize the paragraphs well, stretch the sentences with lots of detail and be sure each sentence was different and interesting.   Here are the final versions.....

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Long ago, Chipmunks had no stripes. Chipmunk was very brave, and and loved to tease the other animals. She often got herself in trouble, but was always able to trick her captor into letting her go.
One day, Chipmunk was out gathering nuts, and fruits when she met Bear. Bear was walking along and gathering food, when he saw Chipmunk.
“I am the strongest of animals. I can do anything.” Bear said proudly.
“Is that true?” asked Chipmunk.
“Oh yes,”Bear bragged. “All the other animals are afraid of me. I could eat them up in one bite. I am a very good climber have a of energy. Usually I am awake from dawn to dusk.”
“Can you stop the sin from rising?” Chipmunk said.
“I haven’t tried yet, but tomorrow the sun won’t rise.” the  determined Bear said. He walked back to his den and lay down to sleep. Chipmunk laughed and ran away.
That night, Bear lay awake in worry. He had no idea how he would stop the sun from rising. Maybe he wasn’t strong enough.Soon he saw the sun peek over the horizon. Chipmunk ran over to watch.
“The sun will not rise!” Bear bellowed, standing up.
“The sun is stronger than Bear.” Chipmunk laughed.”Even Bear has a weakness. The sun came up, and Bear has proved he is not strong enough.”
Bear was furious. He let out a low grumble that made Chipmunk shiver.
“If I can’t stop the sun from rising, you won’t live to see it set!” Bear growled, pinning Chipmunk to the ground with his paw.
Chipmunk’s eyes went wide and her heartbeat quickened. She knew she had to get out, but how? Suddenly an idea popped into her mind.
“ Oh Bear, I’m sorry,” Chipmunk cried sweetly. “Before you eat me, please lift your paw so I can say a prayer to our Creator.”
Bear thought for a moment. He was angry but he felt that Chipmunk was really sorry. Bear lifted his paw, and his long claws scratched Chipmunk as she ran away. Bear had been tricked. Chipmunk’s little feet carried her away as she breathed a sigh of relief. She was safe from Bear, and she learned her lesson. Chipmunk never teased anyone after that.
Chipmunks now have stripes that look like scratches. They remind us what happens if we make fun of one another.

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Long ago, chipmunks had no stripes. Then  one day chipmunk was gathering food and saw Bear. Bear was walking and eating a delicious leaf to fulfill his everlasting hunger.  He growled “I am the strongest of animals.  I am strong enough to do any that comes my way.”  

Chipmunk replied “Is that true?” Chipmunk did not believe Bear. Bear roared “It is! All the other animals are afraid of me.”  Chipmunk replied “Well then, can you stop the sun from rising in the morning?”  

Bear answered “I haven’t tried.  But you will see, tomorrow the sun won’t rise.”  Bear went to his den.  Chipmunk laughed and ran back home.  Bear couldn’t sleep that night in his den because he was nervous.

 In the morning, Bear watched the bright sun rise because nobody can stop the sun from rising.  Bear stood on his hind legs and screamed “The sun will not rise.”  

Chipmunk came to watch.  Chipmunk laughed and said “The sun is stronger than bear.  The sun came up and bear is angry.”

Bear growled and said “If I can’t stop the sun from rising, you won’t live to see it set.” He knew that would be the only way to show chipmunk a lesson.

“Oh Bear, cried Chipmunk. “I’m sorry!  Before you eat me, please let me say a prayer to our Creator. But I’m suffocating under your paw because it’s so heavy, please lift it a bit.” Bear lifted his paw and chipmunk ran away.  But Bear’s long claws scratched her as she ran away.  

Chipmunks now have stripes that look like scratches.  They remind us of what price we pay when we make fun of one another.

Art Lesson .... Painted Feathers

Made some painted feathers today.  Just some acrylic paint on craft feathers.  Very pretty!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Art Lesson ... Paul Klee Name Paintings

Did another Carla Sonheim art lesson paintings inspired by the style of the artist Paul Klee.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Art Lesson ... Leaf Painting

Collected a few fall leaves then did a rubbing with oil pastel and finally covered with watercolors.  Pretty!

Building a TeePee

Went out into the woods today and asked the girls to build a teepee that I could sit in. I hoped it would require them to make a plan, organize themselves and their materials, build, observe, problem solve and have some persistence. 

I was afraid this might be too easy and a bit boring.  Wrong!  They dove right into planning and then tried finding the perfect spot and collecting really, really long branches.  

I really wanted to direct the action but kept my comment to reminding them to keep their teepee off the trail.  Then I zipped my lip and let them work.

Then things got interesting.  They couldn't get the branches to support each other.  At first they threw out ideas and did a pretty good job at trying each other's idea.  Then as frustration set in they stopped listening and wanted to give up.

We talked about each little thing that was frustrating and how we might try to work each little thing out.  We eventually worked through our blocks and tried shorter branches and tried using an existing tree for support.  We all finally agreed that we were not able to construct a teepee with our plan.

At home they used popsicle sticks and twine to create little teepees and determined that you really need to tie the tops and that the sticks all need to be the same length and thickness and need to be straight. 

Now that we have sorted out our design we might actually go back out and try again!

Creative Writing ... Blackout Poetry

Spend a rainy afternoon in the library and did some blackout poetry.  Just take a newspaper or magazine article and circle some words to create a phrase or phrases to make up a poem.  Then you black out the rest of the words with a black marker.

Writing a Native American Style Blessings

We spent the afternoon reading over a number of Native American blessings and prayers and looking for the similarities.  The girls discovered that the main idea was always to take notice of the world around you and to express respect and appreciation for the Earth and all living things.

Then we each wrote our own blessing.  

"Let me care for and protect all things and beings and keep them from fear and harm.
Let me be in the moment and enjoy each thing I see.
Let me hold true to my beliefs.
Let me see and receive the goodness hidden in others.
Let my words be kind and authentic.
Let me listen to the quiet, the divine and myself.
Let me follow the path of love and trust."

"Cherish life and everything in it.
Cherish health, for it is always there.
Cherish happiness, it comes and goes.
Cherish trust and it will stay forever.
Cherish respect, it is a joy.
Cherish life, it's just too short."

"I ask for peace
let me learn the lessons I need to know
let me bring light in times of dark
let me keep going when giving up is easier
let me have courage to forgive those who should be forgiven
let me have peace, that is all I ask"

Spirit Animals

We did a really lovely guided mediation to meet our spirit animal guide and then used a guide to learn a bit about the animals that presented themselves to us.  We then each drew our spirit animal on fabric and began an embroidery project.  We have also been reading Spirits of the Earth to learn about the messages that different animals are believed to bring.  We have been keeping our eyes open to all of the Earth's creatures since then!

Native American Online Scavenger Hunt

This month the girls need to find ....

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  1. Look up Native American symbols.  Write me a note (at least 3 sentences) using the symbols.
  2. Find a picture and quote about your spirit animal.
  3. What are the different types of Native American homes?
  4. Who was Pocohantas?
  5. What is a shaman?
  6. What is a talking stick used for?
  7. An old photograph of Native Americans.
  8. List 3 types of Native American homes and what areas of the country they are used in.
  9. Who was Sitting Bull?
  10. A picture of a Native American headdress.
  11. What is Thanksgiving?
  12. Which tribes lived in teepees?
  13. Who is Maria Tallchief?
  14. Did Native American’s invent the baby bottle?
  15. Who was Squanto?
  16. What are the Three Sisters?
  17. A picture of a medicine wheel.
  18. List 3 sacred Native American sites.  
  19. What are mocassins?
  20. Why did Native Americans wear war paint?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Learning About Native Americans

Our Native American Unit Study will focus on the Native American connection to Mother Earth and the Creator.  We will talk about the conflicts that have happened between Native Americans and people who did not or do not share this connection.  We will talk about how to incorporate a deeper connection in our own lives.  Out unit study consists of ....

Keep a "travel journal" documenting your visits with at least 5 Native American tribes.   Record where you are, what you are seeing and eating, what people are wearing.  Discover the values and traditions and rituals of the people you meet.  Include old photos, maps and sketches.

Research Scavenger Hunt
Complete an online scavenger hunt.

Reading List

Walking Two Worlds
Spirit Animals and the Wheel of Life
Code Talker
Spirits of the Earth
Crazy Horse's Vision
Buffalo Song
How Chipmunk Got His Stripes
Turtle's Race with Beaver
Who Was Sitting Bull?
Who Was Sacagawea?
Who Is Maria Tallchief?
In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse
Talking Leaves
Navajo Long Walk
The Girl Who Helped Thunder

Reading and Writing
Edit a poorly written (by me!) Native American folktale.  Focus on changing paragraphs and stretching sentences and ensuring there is a conflict, climax and resolution.

Read and discuss a number of Native American prayers and proverbs.  Discuss what values are similar among all of them. Then write our own prayer.

Science and Technology
Design and build a teepee using items found in the woods.

Experiment with forecasting the weather using signs in nature.

Math, Logic and Problem Solving

Watch a documentary on the longhouse then design and build a gingerbread longhouse.

Design and create an embroidery of your spirit animal.

Make and play some traditional Native American games.

History and Culture
Create a timeline of important events in Native American history.

Use BrainPop to study Native American events each day.

Have a Native American themed Culture Day.

Explore the Lenape lifestyle each day.

Read about various spirit animals and folktales each day.

Watch Little House on the Prairie.

Researched the conflict at Standing Rock.

Explore Navajo weaving and the Spider Weaver tale and create a woven pouch.

Listen to Native American music.

Field Trips

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Cowboy Day

We decided for each unit study we should have a fabulously creative day based on a little research.  Food, games, crafts, outfits, music.  SO today was Cowboy Day!

All of us dressed in the style that a cowboy might have embraced (using things we already own).  Each of us came up with a recipe cowboys would typically eat and planned for and made the dish.  We all created a game or activity that cowboys would have participated in.  We watched a documentary on cowboy life.  And we played country music all day long!

We all got to do some research, plan and organize, and be a little creative.  Yee haw!

Plaid, denim and cowboy hats.

Of course played horseshoes!

An adorable game that included lassoing cows and then pinning them (while blindfolded) into their pen.

Chicken fried steak, baked beans, smashed potato casserole.

Trying to lasso a horse.

Bandannas and braids!