Authentic Tepees Review

In keeping with reconciliation and linking with the grade 4 curriculum, my students and I looked into traditional Indigenous homes. Quality Classrooms sent us The Kids Book of Aboriginal Peoples to assist with our study. Since we were studying the Anishinaabe people who lived on the plains we decided to take a closer look at the tipis in which they traditionally lived. They also sent 2 Authentic Tepees Craft Kits to review and create our own.

The first thing we did was open the kits and look at our supplies. They included plenty of materials to make the tipis.

One thing we noticed right away was that the included template for the outer covering was not symmetrical and was too big for the dowels provided. We set about to create our own template which fit the dowels and also incorporated the traditional smoke flaps and an opening for the door.

We pre-tied the dowels together with the included string to make assembly easier for the students.

It was then time to glue the dowels to the base. While plenty of glue was included it was difficult to use since it was so runny. We ended up using large blobs of glue and sticking the dowels into the centre of each blob. It needed to dry overnight before we could attach the outer covering. When I repeated this activity a second time I used a glue gun and it worked much better.

In the meanwhile, the students began to work on their outer coverings. They traced the template on the paper provided and carefully cut it out. Next came the designs. We discussed the importance of including Mother Earth and Father Sky at the bottom and top of their tipi and that the animals and people who live on the earth take up the space in the middle. We also looked at symbols they could include such as Turtle Island, the animals of the 7 Sacred Teachings and the Medicine Wheel.

The next day it was time to attach the outer covering. The students had some difficulty with this as the glue did not hold the covering in place. A paper clip would have held the covering together while the glue dried. Instead, we just held it together with our fingers for a few minutes while the glue dried. The glue gun worked much better the second time.

The students were really pleased with their tipis and had a great crafting experience overall.

They even made a village with their completed teepees.

Written by Ange, a teacher in Pembina Trails School Division.

Dream Catcher

We were given a Dream Catcher craft kit from Quality Classrooms to try out and Rose’s 8th birthday party seemed the perfect testing ground.

Prep involved setting the kit out on the table for each child, along with a named paper plate. The kids also had access to markers and extra beads. I love to cover tables with Brown Kraft Roll paper so quick finishers can doodle and play games on the table top. The table beneath (a ping-pong table in this case) was also protected from markers and paint.

Children were given a chipboard hoop and feathers to decorate with markers. They were reminded to decorate both sides if they wanted to hang their dreamcatcher in a location where it would spin. While decorating, we shared our understanding of the Dream Catcher’s origins and how it was used by Ojibwe peoples, often hung over a baby’s cradle as a protective charm. Many of the children had a dream catcher in their room and they explained how it caught their bad dreams and let the good dreams through.

We used named paper plates to keep the pieces of our dreamcatcher organized.

On one side the holes on the hoop were labelled from 1-12.

The pattern given in the craft kit instructions was easy to follow. Hole #7 was a challenge as they had to thread twine through it 3 times! Some ignored the pattern and did their own thing… that worked too!

Beads were added during the threading process and after.

The leftover string was long enough to add the cardboard feathers and some extra beads, using a simple knot.

Some children were very independent, whilst others needed assistance to thread the pattern and did not want to vary from the recommended guidelines. All crafters had success and were able to complete the Dream Catcher. The children were happy to show off and take their Dream Catchers home.

Here is the low down on the Dream Catcher craft set:

String this Native American craft together to ensure good dreams! Decorate the thick cardboard hoops with markers, paint or crayons before threading the string through the pre-punched holes. Use our stringing suggestions or ask students to invent their own patterns. Don’t forget to decorate the included card feathers. Try adding beads to your dream catcher for a bright, dynamic look. Includes 12 dream catchers, 13cm x 13cm, 29.7 m twine, 12 plastic needles, beads and guide.

This book provides a clear explanation of the Dream Catcher meaning. The Dream Catcher Pool is a beautiful book about a boy Heyden, who is eager to help when Nokomis wants to build a Dream Catcher Pool. In the process, he learns rich lessons about his heritage.

Written by Chris, a teacher in Pembina Trails School Division.

Space Fun – DIY Astronaut Helmet

Daisy is learning about space in preschool this week and they had the option to dress up as an astronaut or space alien today. Of course, she chose the astronaut. I turned to google for ideas but they all looked a little challenging for a busy day at preschool. Instead, I found two boxes, ignored all the fancy handmade costume ideas and got out the duct tape.

Duct taping took a little time and patience with two very willing helpers. It is sticky, isn’t it? But teamwork and a short break for a snack got us through it.

We made name labels for the back and Canadian flags for the front.

Rose kept hers on for all of 20 seconds but we had lots of fun building a rocket and playing astronauts. Daisy was a very bossy commander and enjoyed giving us orders. Here are some of the comments Daisy made:

“Commander to control, come in control”

” 5,4,3,2,1, Blast Off!”

“Oh, the Earth looks so pretty from up here.” (quite appropriate considering the carpet they are playing on!)

As for the rest…I was too busy playing to remember them!

Thanksgiving Tree

We tend to get a little obsessed with food at our house during Thanksgiving, so a little focus on the ‘Thanks’ is necessary.

You need:

We talked about thanksgiving and what being thankful is. We began to list all the things Daisy is thankful for (all the people or things) she is happy to have in her life.

As I am writing this I am thinking about how we will discuss this further, talking about the opportunities she has; being able to play soccer, play with her sister, dance, learn. The list could go on and on, as could the discussion. Teaching children to have a ‘cup half full” attitude is a wonderful skill to carry through life. Being able to find the positive in most situations makes life easier and often more fulfilling.

When we had a list Daisy was happy with, we started work on our tree. We glued the tree onto construction paper.

What time of day we start a craft, often influences the amount of energy Daisy can give to a project. This activity was started after 2pm and she was lacking enthusiasm so I wrote the ‘Thanks’ on the leaves. If we had done this in the morning Daisy would have been able to write some of the leaves herself. With younger children, the leaves would need to be bigger and photos and magazines could be used for a collage. I wrote on the leaves for her.

We drew leaves on card stock and cut them out. The leaves with all their edges were a bit hard for the kids to cut out, so I helped them with that part. I would recommend having this part done before the activity starts.

Daisy wrote her name on a little sign and her Thanksgiving Tree was finished. It is proudly displayed near our dinner table.

(This craft idea was taken from The Preschooler’s Busy Book).