Native American Unit Study - Lesson 3: Blackfeet Clothing

needs more photos

Lesson 3: My daughter created a Native American woman's dress in the style of the Blackfeet Indians for her doll.

The Blackfeet were a plains Indian tribe which lived in the North. Ranging from Colorado to Canada, they were dependent on buffalo. They ate buffalo, made their houses and clothing from buffalo hides and used the bones as tools and decoration.

My daughters love sewing and crafting. Therefore, the book Indian Costumes, written in chapter format and describing traditional clothing of several different Native American tribes was very interesting to them. While focusing on the clothing, the book describes materials used in the clothing as well as the clothing's purpose. Since Native American clothing was typically made from animal skins and decorated with natural objects, they learned a little about different animals surrounding the various tribes. In addition, they learned about the climate as people from the north wore heavier clothing while southern tribes dressed lighter.

After reading about the clothing of the Blackfeet, my seven year old began work on a dress for her doll. She used fleece since it is very easy to work with and it was available in the house, but she chose red fleece which confused me, so I asked her about it.

Native American clothing was typically made from leather so was colored in shades of white, yellow, to tan and brown. After reading the book, she looked up Blackfeet clothing on the internet to see better pictures. She liked one which was a bright red dress. It turned out that it was constructed from cloth in the late 1800s. Once cloth became available via trade, the styles stayed the same, but the construction materials changed. 

Please return to Highhill Education next week as we continue our Native American unit study.

Native American Unit Study - Lesson 2: Beadwork


Lesson 2: My daughter made a beaded bracelet.

This lesson was actually completed months before our Native American unit study, but fit right in.

Joel E. Hendricks has had a life-long interest in Native American costume and design. He is featured in this PBS video, Illinois Stories: Native American Clothes and Beads. His interest began at the age of 9 years old with reading lots of books on the topic. Today, he not only creates Native American clothing, but attends Pow-Wows, judges dancing and works to preserve Native American culture.

My girls love crafting of all sorts, so to inspire them to learn more about Native American history I turned on the video above. Well it didn't take long for the girls to sit beside me. They were very interested.

The video did an excellent job of displaying examples of Native American bead work. After watching, we were craving tutorials.

The video above is one that left an impression on my seven year old. After watching, she got out our beads and tried out some of the techniques.

Plastic Beads

Typically very small, size 13, seed beads and nylon monofilament thread are used for Native American beading. Since my daughter is only seven, the big plastic beads, and ordinary needle and thread worked great. If her interest continues to grow, I will look into purchasing more authentic materials. 

This was another successful interest based educational activity. My daughter did all the work on her own.

Native American Unit Study - Lesson 1: Tribes and Regions

Lesson 1: We labeled regions of a map of the United States showing where various Indian tribes lived before Europeans began settling North America.

Native American History tells a rather sad story. Amazingly, very similar events have taken place many times throughout the history of humanity. Unfortunately, when one nation wants something which another has sometimes the thought that all people are human is abandoned in favor of individual needs and desires. These difficult stories are important to understand as they can help us to prevent repeating the pattern yet again.

The video linked below, Native America Before Colonization, is a two part series. The first segment compares the ways Europeans lived to the ways in which the Native Americans lived. The second part details how contact between Europeans and Americans changed the lives of both peoples. Pigs, corn, wood, disease, horses and potatoes are only a few items which brought significant changes for the people. The video describes each one and the lifestyles of both cultures. It's an excellent overview for those beginning a middle or high-school level American History study.

Native America Before Colonization

America's Great Indian Nations, the next documentary linked below, describes the unique features of several Native American Tribes. Did you know the Iroquois were actually a peaceful confederation of several nations in New York? The Seminole tribe was a nation of people from varying backgrounds; runaway slaves, Native American refugees from the north and others banned together.

Over the period of a few hundred years, most of the Native American tribes were reduced in population and confined to live on reservations. After highlighting the tribe the video explains how each was changed forever with colonization. Yes - there are many sad stories! Without going into too many details this video provides an overview of significant tribes, their territories and leaders. It's another video good for middle or high schoolers beginning American History studies.

America's Great Indian Nations

After watching the videos with my older daughter, all three of the kids and I read North American Indians (Pictureback(R)). While reading the book we wrote the names of some Indian tribes on the United States map showing where they used to live. Although they are all known as Native Americans, they were very different from each other. Each group had their own traditions, gods, and way of living. Clothing styles were different among tribes, as were diet and housing style. Many of the differences were due to the resources available where each tribe lived. For example, tribes on the plains ate buffalo and used all parts of the buffalo in their clothing and way of life. Where as tribes in the North West were dependent on salmon. This book provides an introduction to the differences which is very important. The Native people of America were people. They had their own, different ways of life, and few are around today who still follow their tribal traditions.

Over the coming weeks I will detail our family's Native American Unit study including read books and completed projects.

Making Cookies with an Engineer

My son (a little engineer) made peanut butter cookies with a cookie press.

Before my mom showed me this gadget, I had never even heard of a cookie press. Her's is over 35 years old, but here is a similar gadget available on amazon. Deluxe Cookie Press with Icing Gun

This way of making cookies was perfect for my son since he loves tinkering.

 First he read the directions and selected the peanut butter cookie recipe.

 After mixing the dough, he got to select one of the numerous inserts in which to create designs.

 He put the insert into the gadget and filled it with dough.

 Then the lid was screwed down.

 It took some muscle to get the dough to come out of the holes.

 But after just a little practice, the cookies were coming out quite nicely.

 They tasted good too. This would be a unique gift for a child.

Looking for more activities to do with children? Be sure to check out the pages of this blog; Math, Language Arts, Science, History, Geography, Arts and Crafts and these other great Blog Hops.

Native American Unit Study - Introduction

We spent several weeks studying Native Americans through reading and crafting.

As Americans, Native American history lives in all of us. Most Americans have roots from a wide variety of ancestors and many of us are a portion Native American. When my husband was a teenager, he found out he was part Native American. It turns out that his great grandmother was at least half Native American and more likely full blooded Native American. Because her children were likely to be sent to boarding school hundreds of miles away, she kept her ethnicity hidden for three generations. Knowing a bit about personal ancestry made our Native American unit study more interesting.

Geographic region was the single factor which most affected how different Native American tribes lived. Houses, tools, clothing, food and communication were largely based on available natural resources. The Book of Indians by Holling C Holling describes Native Americans in four regions of the United States including the people of the forests (eastern and Great Lakes), plains, deserts and mesas and the rivers and sea (west coast Indians). Each tribal region is first described and then followed by two historical fiction stories of Native American children who lived there. Because I wanted my daughter to understand that the term Native American does not describe one group of people, but many, Holling C Holling's book was the core for this unit study.

My eight year old loves crafting, so our key to this unit study was the book More Than Moccasins: A Kid's Activity Guide to Traditional North American Indian Life (Hands-On History) by Laurie Carlson. The book contains over 100 simple crafts to be completed using common materials such as brown paper bags, and markers. It is divided into seven sections including Everyday Life, Things to Wear, Song and Dance, Toys, Games, What's for Dinner and Pass it On. Each section contains several one or two page descriptions of a Native American item and instructions on how to make a simple version of that item.Although the book was partitioned based on function, we reordered it and read it based on geographic region.

Since my daughter enjoys crafting, but not being told what to do or how to do it, we read the descriptions of approximately five different craft ideas each day, and she picked the one she was most interested in completing. Because of the descriptions of where and how each item in the book was used she learned about different types of Native Americans reading each craft idea. Whether or not she chose to complete a project didn't matter, because she still learned how the different tribes lived by reading about what they wore, how they communicated and the games they played. Overall, she really enjoyed this unit study because it was so craft oriented.

Over the next several weeks I will detail more of the projects that were completed as part of our Native American unit study.

Norman Rockwell Artist Study

My daughter made a Norman Rockwell style Christmas Card and a Saturday Evening Post magazine cover.

Norman Rockwell created thousands of works of art that make people smile. Our emotions begin to flow just by looking at his pictures. Have you ever jumped off a high dive, or gotten into a fight at school? His pictures seem to capture real people throughout the course of life. When he was only 15 years old he created a set of images for Christmas Cards. Here is a link to many more Norman Rockwell Works of Art.

Activity 1
Since so many of his images seem to tell stories, we took turns selecting our favorites, and created stories to go with the scenes. 

Activity 2
My daughter loves Christmas and couldn't wait to create a Norman Rockwell style Christmas card.

 She began with a thick sheet of paper and acrylic paints and then began painting.

She captured Santa placing a gift under the tree.

Activity 3
To learn about Norman Rockwell we read the book Norman Rockwell (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists).

Activity 4
The Saturday Evening Post is a New England magazine started by Benjamin Franklin. Many of the covers are interesting works of art. Norman Rockwell dreamed of creating a cover for the magazine. Well throughout his life he ended up creating over 300 covers and working as an illustrator for other magazines. We looked at several of the covers he drew and discussed his use of lines, background colors, repeating shapes and ways your eye naturally views his images.

Activity 5
Next, my daughter created her own cover for the Saturday Evening Post.

 She used her Spartan Hello Kitty as a model.

Headline text was added and then changed.

 Background color was contemplated. (Norman Rockwell did extensive studies on color to determine which colors the public liked viewing.)

Red was chosen and her image was complete.

Art, Symmetry and Monsters

We studied symmetry by creating monsters.

When I saw this project on the Arte a Scuola blog, I knew we had to give it a try. It combined creativity and math and could be completed with basic simple materials. (colored paper, glue, white paper, pencil and markers).

 First an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper was folded in half and a line with lots of bumps and ridges was drawn from the top to the bottom beginning and ending on the fold.

 The resulting figure was cut from the white paper and glued to a sheet of construction paper.

 Next, looking at the figures, we each decided where our figures would be divided so that they contained head, body and leg sections.

Then markers were used to make them into monsters.

To see more mathematical art projects please visit our Art Page.

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