This past week was my most favorite of the entire 3/4 curriculum. I was in the classroom for it one other time, otherwise, I had only heard about it from my own kids. I am so proud of how the children behaved and of the amount of respect that they showed Skip, his friends, their artifacts, and their teachings.
I took a bunch of pictures during the week, most will be under the Gallery tab, so head over there to see them all. The rest of the post I’ll just break up into the day of the week and share a few. It is a lengthy post, but we really did do a lot of great things I want you to be aware of!
We had 4 stations on Monday, but first we started with PE. They have been working with blindfolds and pretending that one of them is blind. It has been fun to watch the level of trust that they have in one another.
So on Monday we took a nice long hike in PC and made our way to a grouping of willow trees. Here we harvested some to build the wigwam later in the week. We also played some games before heading back to school for lunch. The kids who were dressed properly with rain pants and rain boots got to stomp through the puddles and mud on the way back. I was so happy that I dressed for the weather and was able to join in!
In the afternoon they learned all about Native American artifacts. First Skip told them about so many of them from his culture. He also showed them how they changed over time once trading with European settlers began. Skip added that most of the artifacts are just that at this time and everyone he knows uses the same things we do to get jobs done. The kids really enjoyed Skip and his tools.
Next we moved onto Naomi, she had a station with about 5 or 6 mystery artifacts. The kids could touch them and examine them, they then had to determine what it was made from and how it was used. They actually did really well with this activity.
Once again we had 4 stations. This time we started with Dream Catchers. Each child was able to make one, decorate it with beads and feathers, and hopefully bring it home.
Our next station was very special. Skip invited us into the tipi to discuss his religious beliefs and share with us some special artifacts and customs. He told the kids how important tobacco is in his culture. The third graders were very respectful of Skip and his teachings.
After lunch we headed to the fire pit to make succotash. The kids took turns cutting onions and squash. Then they stirred in some corn and beans and cooked it over an open fire. Of course, the real highlight was getting to eat it.
Finally, I took the kids on a hike where we were looking at different places that Native Americans could live. So we examined a wooded area, a prairie (plains), and a water space. Then we compared them and discussed if shelter, food, and protection from the elements would be available in each location. It was a fun way to end the day.
Just a regular old early release Wednesday was next. We did once again practice being blind in PE, this time Mr. Flinn had them go through an obstacle course. It was really neat to watch, some kids got so good that they memorized the course and could do it without holding onto their partner.
Jaden brought in a great book of Ken Nesbitt poems that he put together. He used Mr. Nesbitt (a popular children’s poet) poetry and added pictures. I then laminated the sheets and we made a nice book that will last. Great job Jaden!
We started our day making medicine bags with Mrs. McGovern. The kids did a wonderful job sewing them together. When they were done they got to play a fun Native American version of a board game. Skip was very happy to see the medicine bags and he told the kids to only put what they really treasure in their bags.
Next we headed to the soccer field to play some Native American games. Many of the games were designed to be both fun and educational. They were to develop the skills of the young so that they would be proficient and hunting and protecting themselves.
Then we headed over to Skip and his friend Jeff and we helped them build a wigwam. This is where all of the willows we cut earlier in the week were put to use. Everyone got a turn connecting the willow branches to create a solid structure. We didn’t have time to put the walls on, but Skip let us use a tarp he had!
Finally, we headed back inside and did a weaving activity with Mrs. Larson. She read them a legend and told them about weaving baskets. The kids made a placemat (baskets are a little too time consuming) and they turned out really well.
The day started with a walk over (and into) the tipi. Here Ms. Hahn taught everyone how to make bracelets. The kids all added beads with colors representing the medicine wheel that Skip told us about. Ask your kids what the colors mean.
Our next stop was planting squash seeds with Mrs. Germata. She read them the Legend of the Three Sisters and helped them with the seeds. We will transplant later in May.
Once again we found the next station down by the fire pit. Here Skip, Naomi, and Mrs. Krissek told the kids about harvesting wild rice. While sharing that story, we were also boiling down some pure maple syrup. Once it was cooked long enough it was placed on large cookie sheets to cool. They then broke it into many pieces and the kids could get a taste. It was so yummy! The rice was pretty good too, although not everyone agreed.
Lastly our rotation ended with Mrs. Wagner and a legend about how raven got to be all black. The kids then colored a raven and put a light wash of black watercolor on top to indicate the ash that covered raven in the legend. They turned out really nice.
The absolute best part of the entire week happened Friday afternoon. We all gathered in the gym with Skip and a bunch of his friends for a powwow. The kids were so respectful listening to Skip and his friends talk about the powwow and the drum. They all participated in the dancing and had a great time. It is a very powerful thing to see in person.
I have to say that at the end of the ceremony Skip told the kids how special they are and how amazed he is at the level of respect they have shown for the week. And he was so right. He then says goodbye by looking each and everyone in the room straight in the eye and says thanks. He shook hands with every student and hugged each adult. Sappy Mrs. Steinbeck had tears in her eyes as this was happening.
Here are a couple of videos from the powwow too.
I know that your kids all enjoyed the entire week. It was very special to all of us involved. Thank you so much for all of the support you parents provided by either coming in to help, or sending things in, or even making sure that your child had proper clothing for the chilly weather we had all week. It was very much appreciated.
Thank you, as well, for all of the kind teacher appreciation notes, flowers, cards, drinks, treats, and the gift card. We have a great group of kids in the classroom and they are lucky enough to have great parents, so thank you.
Finally, thanks to those who sent in suckers or candy. As anyone who saw our kids last week knows, once one kid started coughing then many others joined in, to the point of distraction. So being able to give them something to suck on really helped. Hopefully the weekend away has given them time to recover a bit!
~ Mrs. Steinbeck
P.S. I have to shamelessly share a photo of my oldest son and his girlfriend before they headed to prom on Friday (I’ll probably share another one later in the month from his gradation 😄!)