PreKandKSharing · Nov 6, 2013

Native American Pow Wow and LOTS of FREEBIES!

Hi! I am Carolyn from Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together.
Every year I look forward to teaching my Native American Unit to my class, because the children love it so much. Many of the ideas I got from my mother who was a wonderful pre-school teacher. She was the best mentor teacher I ever had. Since then, I have found lots of clever ideas online and free at TPT. I thought I would share some of my favorite ideas with you today!
When I first taught twenty five years ago, I was able to devote more time to making these wonderful projects and having our big Pow Wow. Today, I have to pick and choose which activities I can best fit into our schedule. I actually found pictures from my first couple classes at their Pow Wow.

These are some books I like to use when we learn about the Native Americans. I like Ann McGovern's If You Lived series. I show the children a lot of the pictures in the books and condense the information to make these books work best for my Kindergarteners.

I also love to use these books by Kate Waters. Again, the children love to study the pictures, and I condense the information for my Kindergarteners. Click on the picture below to go to the Scholastic interview with Kate. At the bottom of that page is a link to a transcript where she answers questions from students about writing her history books. Here is a link to her homepage where she shares information about all of her books.

We begin our unit by discussing where the different Native American tribes lived in the United States. This may seem advanced, but the children LOVE learning about this- and are extra excited when they learn something that I tell them their parents may not know! You could focus on the area where you live and learn about only those Native Americans, or chose a few to study. We review this each day that we talk about Native Americans, and they learn it really well.

I made this activity that I use each year. Feel free to use it, use part of it, or change it if you would like. Mine is quite simple, but it is a good way for the children to remember the different regions of Native American cultures. Here are some pictures of the different pages. Just click on this image if you would like a copy of the packet.
I print out the map and information page, then copy that onto one two-sided page. This way, parents are able to read about the information the children have learned, in case the children forget to tell some wonderful detail! I print out several color copies of page 3 which has the small homes on it. These are for the students to use. I cut these apart into strips, and have the children cut and glue the correct type of Native American home onto the correct region, like in this picture:
The last few pages are larger size pictures of the Native American homes. I print these in color and have them laminated. You could have the children put these up on a big map of the US on the Smart board.

When we begin to discuss Native Americans, I invite the children to bring in any Native American items from home that they may have- moccasins, vests, dolls, arrowheads...

I turned the bigger doll over because the children love that papoose!
Where we live, people still search for and find arrowheads when farmers plow fields in the spring because Iroquois tribes lived where our town is today. My grandfather gave me some beautiful Native American stone tools he had collected that the children love to study.

Notice the small stone was dropped when we were mixing one year- and has been "super-glued" back together. I'm PRETTY sure they didn't have that luxury back then!

Here are some of the activities I like to do.

Since the children know that the Northern Woodland Native Americans used every part of the deer for something different, and didn't waste any part of it, we make vests to remind us how they used deer hide for clothing. If I lived in the Plains, it would be buffalo, but we are in the Northeastern Woodland area! I wondered how I would explain my vest pattern to you, and then I found this fabulous Native American Vest Freebie from Michelle Perry on TPT that shows you exactly how to fold and cut a vest. They take some time to prepare, but we save them for the Pow Wow, and they are really special for the kids. Lots of them were their vests at their own Thanksgiving celebrations at home, too. Thank you, Michelle, for sharing this!
Before we decorate the vest, we talk about Native American designs and writing. They used symbols and images when they wrote instead of words. I write "stories" on the whiteboard with only symbols. The children love this. Kristin, from Little Miss Glamour Goes to Kindergarten shared some great symbols to use for decorating the vests or for your stories.

Eve Warren has lots of Native American Symbols you could print out to use as a guide for the children and use for writing stories for the children to figure out. I let the children use these to decorate all of their items.
Carol, from Art Lesson Launchpad also has a Native American Symbol Freebie at her for the children to use as a guide to decorate their vests. 

I let the children mash up some real berries (which I mix into "real paint") with the little stone masher in the real stone dish, to use for their designs on the vest.

Another favorite that I do each year is making Native American necklaces. We talk about Native American names, and how each person was given a name after they did a special deed or because of a special quality a person had. I give each child his/her own Native American name, which is thrilling! Here is a list of possible names that I came up with- but of course you can probably think of many others! (Just click on the picture below.) I like to have each child have his or her own special name, but you can have a group use the same name if you want.

I put a medallion in the middle of their necklace. Crayola has some free Native American pendants you can print out on cardstock that would work well, or you can just make a plain shape- circle, turkey, anything.

I have the children string colored macaroni noodles, cut up straw pieces, packing noodles, or beads on each side to make a necklace. If You Give a Teacher a Blog has a great tutorial about dying noodles with rubbing alcohol and food coloring, which is what I use. This works so well, dries so quickly, and is very easy!

I leave the center medallion blank and write in the name after the children make their necklace to present to each child at the Pow Wow. This makes a fun and very special ceremony for the children. You can also just give the children their name as they make the necklace if you don't have a Pow Wow. They love that, too.

Here is an online reading of Knots on a Counting Rope. This is a really nice story about the relationship between a blind Navaho Indian boy and his grandfather. It is about 11 minutes long. It sort of went along with how Native Americans choose names.
We make Native American drums and shakers. For our drums, I have the children bring in an oatmeal container. You can also use coffee containers with lids. I start EARLY in the year, because these aren't easy to get. You can also put out an email for other classes to help you. While you are at it, put out a call for toilet paper rolls for shakers. These are much easier to acquire...

You can spray paint the oatmeal containers at home for the base, then the children simply decorate them with their Native American symbols using markers. This takes quite a bit of spray paint. You can also cover the containers with paper that the children have watercolored or decorated with symbols (like I did in the Pow Wow picture.) Sometimes, I put out feathers for the children to tape onto their drums for extra decorations.

To make the shakers, I have the children decorate the cardboard rolls (with markers or watercolors), then I fill the shakers with some dried beans. Next, I wrap the roll in waxed paper and fasten the ends with rubber bands. This way, the child can still see his/her design on the roll.

I have also taped the ends first, but sometimes the beans stick to the tape. The waxed paper/rubber band trick works well and doesn't come undone. You can also decorate thin paper, wrap that around the tube, and rubber band shut.

My Kids Guide has another shaker option.

We also make headbands. I have cut large size graph paper into strips, and have the children make a pattern design on the squares. Then, they choose feathers to tape onto the inside. I have also just used brown or tan paper cut into strips that I have let the children decorate. First Palette has a great free headband template to print out if you would like to use that.
My friend who teaches next to me (and has a double room) sometimes puts up a big teepee in her classroom for the children. She uses brown roll paper to go around the posts that the children can decorate- or you could use an old sheet. My room is so crowded with just us living in it, that I don't have room for one- but if you do, it is a fun idea!

You can also make easy little shoe cover moccasins. Just cut ovals from paper bags or brown paper, cut fringe on the sides, decorate, and rubber band them over the child's shoe. It can be as simple as this- but for some reason, the more the children have to wear to the Pow Wow, the better.
I save all of these pieces for the children to wear to the Pow Wow, so the pieces aren't ripped and lost before then.

I make a little campfire on a paper bag and put a light underneath . You could also use battery powered candles. We sit in a circle all dressed up. Look at this darling campfire from Happy Home Fairy. I love this one!

First, we have our Name Ceremony where I present each child with his/her necklace and special name.

Next, we celebrate with our instruments. The drum and shaker give you lots of possibilities for rhythm patterns. You can have them "tap, shake, shake," or "tap, tap, shake, shake." You can have the boys tap and the girls shake. Have fun experimenting!

You can also do a pattern dance- with "step, hop," or "step, hop, hop" or "step, hop, reach"... around the circle or around the room.

Food is lots of fun at our Pow Wow! Here are some ideas. We talk about the legend of Native Americans accidently throwing dried corn into a fire and discovering popcorn. The children love this story. It is a good introduction to "legends" because this story hasn't been found to be true, although it has been shared for years. (I like to believe it, because it is fun!) I put my hot air popper in the middle of a sheet, in the middle of our circle, and we watch it pop right out onto the sheet. So much fun!

Indian corn is lots of fun to introduce to the children.

 It's fun to bring in some real Indian Corn for the children to study.
Put a piece in water and watch what happens! This picture is from Growing in Pre-K.

I found some cute Indian corn crafts. The Best Kids Crafts made this woven corn activity.
Free Kids Crafts has a cute pattern for a beaded Indian corn pin. My kids LOVE these beads.
Look at this bubble wrap Indian corn from Kiwi Crate!
I think this cute Fruit Loop Indian corn idea is from Preschool Alphabet.
Little Stars Learning has this cute coloring page free at her TPT store.
How cute is this Edible Indian Corn by Spoonful?

We also make Pemmican.

You can have the students bring in some of the Pemmican ingredients. Pemmican is a mixture of fat and protein made from dried meats and berries that Native Americans used as a nutritious food. To make Pemmican, I use buffalo fat (butter), sunflower seeds, buffalo meat (chipped beef), raisins, and walnuts. We mix these ingredients all together using our BIG mixing stone and a wooden bowl. I think real Pemmican is a ground, dried meat mixture that is formed into more like a granola bar, but I just mix the ingredients and give each child a plastic spoonful of it. The children actually are surprised that they like it. You could even use granola bars, for that matter! Just show the ingredients and have the "finished Pemmican"(aka granola bars) already opened and on a tray.

My sister shared a fun Native American Stone Game that her Kindergarten class played. My class loved it! It was easy to learn and a really fun center.
Each child gets a baggie with the sticks and stones in it, as well as a scoring sheet. I played this in a small group with my kids, so we used one scoring sheet together. The first person to collect ten stones wins. If you would like a copy of the score sheet, click the picture below. You can make your own as well. This is an old one I had, but it gives you an idea of the game.

Here are some other fun Native American freebies I found at TPT that you could use for your unit study!
The Beezy Teacher shared a Native American totem pole activity.

Lorie Duggins shared this Native American Capital Mat to use on a cookie sheet with magnets- either capital or lowercase to match.

Lorie also shared this Native American Clip Card Center.

Older children my want to compare/contrast different Native American tribes. Yulia Kotets made a great Native American Packet to help your students do this. It is free at her TPT store.

BB Kidz has a simple Venn diagram activity that would be great to use after you compare/contrast Pilgrims and Native Americans.

I Heart My Kinder Kids has these adorable Thanksgiving Ten Frames free at her TPT store. 

I love Michaela Peterson's I'm Thankful For Minibook freebie she has at her TPT store. It's always nice to finish up a unit giving thanks for all that we have! 
Here is another I Am Thankful book from Fun For Kidz.
 I hope you enjoyed the Pow Wow, and found some fun ideas you can use in your classroom. I'd love you to stop over to my blog Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together and visit if you get a chance!

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