Hello all! No I haven't disappeared. Just been very very busy with a lot of things I can't discuss here. Plus, as I mentioned in my previous post, I've run into "teacher's block" (sort of like writer's block) and just haven't had too much to say. And of course, now that I'm in the mood to post, the little guy I'm doing respite for has decided that he MUST be out of bed and MUST have a snack and some playtime. It's waaaaaay past his bedtime. The stinker. :-)......
OK, problems solved with much giggling and even a couple of belly laughs plus a whole lot of cheese crackers on the floor, much to the dogs' delight. I LOVE this kid! Anyway, I mentioned that I was struggling with how to structure the rest of the regular school year for us and talked about doing something with the PBS series "We Shall Remain." That is indeed what I decided to go with. We got started a bit late so had to do two episodes last week (After the Mayflower, which is about the European "invasion" of America, and "Tecumseh's Vision" about Tecumseh's attempts to unite the Native American tribes into one nation separate from the white man). Both episodes were excellent although I will say we were all more fascinated by After the Mayflower (you mean the Pilgrims are actually the bad guys? How different would history be today if Massasoit had just decided to let those foolish Europeans die from their own ignorance). I'm using both the News-2-You and the website to create synopses of the episodes using Boardmaker which we read during Morning Meeting prior to watching the episodes (we watch during gross motor/standing time). One of my students, whose Dad is Puerto Rican, was fascinated by the pictures of Native Americans that I used and kept pointing to himself and then to the Smartboard, making it very clear that he thinks he looks like a Native American. Very cool. He got VERY ANGRY when the white men treated the Native Americans badly during the first episode and got really into it when the Native Americans fought back in the second. It was so neat to see him responding like this because he is usually completely disengaged from anything even remotely "academic."
We didn't do much of a project with After the Mayflower, although there are some nice Pilgrim and Indian crafts at dltk-kids.com and Kate also posted some great resources on her website. With Tecumseh's Vision we decided to make dream catchers. The project on dltk-kids did not work for us. It was designed by a teacher in the UK and we weren't able to lay hands on all the materials, particularly the mesh bags. We used this project instead. This is one of the most fun projects we've done, or at least one of the most popular. The kids enjoyed choosing colors and materials and the adults had a blast weaving (my group of students don't have the fine motor skills to do the weaving but had loads of fun checking the adults' work and criticizing, I mean commenting, on it). I think we have 20 or so of the things floating around the room at the moment. We made small ones. The challenging part was figuring out what to use for the rings. In the past we've brass embroidery rings but they are fairly expensive and we didn't have any in the supply closet (yes, this was yet another last minute project idea). What worked best was cutting the rim off of disposable plastic cups (the white, nearly transparent ones work the best). We also tried the rim off of plastic containers like cottage cheese and Cool Whip, but they were too flexible and didn't maintain their round shape. The rims off the LIDS however, worked great. However, the cups are cheap and there are lots of them available compared to the containers. For the string we used crochet thread (the kind used to make lace) for the smaller ones and yarn for the larger. We have a whole collection of various sized beads that we could string on as requested by the students. For the bottom the kids chose a feather (or 5) onto which we strung 3 pony beads (on the shaft end). These were then tied onto the bottom of the dream catcher either in a group or singly. They all turned out really neat. I forgot to take a picture of them but will add one later.
Next up we have The Trail of Tears, Geronimo, and Wounded Knee. I'm not exactly sure what projects we will do to enhance these topics as I need to keep things really simple. I do know we will be taking a trip to the Mid America All Indian Center which has recently reopened and is doing a bunch of stuff related to the We Shall Remain series. And there are more than a few good movies featuring Native Americans (and no, I'm not talking the John Wayne-type where the Indians are the bad guys). And maybe we can find someone from the Indian Center who would be willing to volunteer some time to come in and do drumming and storytelling with the kids. I also have a collection of Native American music we are listening to.
For those of you who would like to borrow my We Shall Remain Boardmaker adaptations:
Email me OR leave a comment with your email/contact information and I'll contact you about sharing. Some of what I have created uses copywrited materials owned by News-2-You so I have to be careful how I share. I plan to use this unit again in the fall closer to Thanksgiving with more activities.