Native American Unit Study - Lesson 8b: Plains Indians

My daughter made leggings, a pouch and a fancy bustle.

Since my daughters were both in dance and often wore leg warmers, they knew exactly what legging were. Native Americans wore them to keep warm, but also to protect their legs from plants and bushes. If you've ever done yard work or broken the trail on a hike wearing shorts, the value of leggings can be appreciated.

The crafts from this post were based on crafts discussed in the book More Than Moccasins: A Kid's Activity Guide to Traditional North American Indian Life (Hands-On History) by Laurie Carlson. Each day we read about several traditions of Native Americans and then my daughter selects a craft based on the tradition. Since she enjoys sewing, she often selects clothing based crafts and modifies the instructions to incorporate fabric instead of paper.

Native leggings were usually made from animal skins and contained fringe and other decorative items. My daughter made her leggings from green fleece fabric to go with the other articles of Native American clothing she has been sewing over the past several weeks.

 The were made by sewing rectangular pieces of fabric in half with a seam approximately two inches from the open edge of the fabric. Next she cut fringe into the open edge and sewed on ribbon for decoration.
Native Americans carried pouches and bags in a large variety of shapes and sizes. Like the clothing, carrying cases were often decorated with beadwork.

 My daughter made this pouch from red fleece by sewing two pieces of fabric together. Once together, the flap was decorated with beads and folded down.

Fancy Bustle
Plains tribes wore a circle of feathers attached to their back for ceremonies. My daughter made one for her stuffed hedgehog.
 It was made by stapling feathers to a doughnut shaped piece of cardboard.

Native American Unit Study - Lesson 8a: Plains Indians

My daughter made a Native American headband and a fetish necklace.

The plains Indians followed the buffalo as the buffalo was essential for their houses, clothing and food. Horses brought to America by Europeans drastically changed the way of life of plains tribes. After some horses escaped and flourished in the wild, plains Indians began to capture and tame the wild horses. They became expert horsemen, using horses to transport goods and more easily hunt the buffalo.

The crafts from this post were based on crafts discussed in the book More Than Moccasins: A Kid's Activity Guide to Traditional North American Indian Life (Hands-On History) by Laurie Carlson.

Fetish Necklace
Much like a lucky rabbit's foot is carried in a pocket or worn around the neck, Plains Indians carried or wore fetish necklaces. Traditionally carved from stone, these small objects were thought to have magical powers and bring luck to the wearer.

My daughter made her fetish necklace by sewing two tiny pieces of fabric together in the shape of a hedgehog. She tied her hedgehog to a string to wear around her neck.

Many tribes wore headdresses containing feathers. Depending upon the region, the feathers stuck straigt up, out to the sides or draped down the back. Often Eagle feathers were placed in the headwear as they were difficult to obtain.

In the same way Americans are rewarded with medals of honor, Natives were rewarded by adding another feather to their headdress.

To make her headdress, my daughter folded a piece of construction paper into a strip and then attached a string to make it fit around her head. She glued on feathers and added hanging beads.

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Edward Lamson Henry Genre Project for Kids

My daughter created a genre painting.

When artists paint scenes of everyday life from their region and time period they are creating genre work. Edward Lamson Henry was an American genre painter. He grew up in New York and had the opportunity to study art in Paris at the same time as many impressionists. However, unlike the impressionists, he moved back to America and fought during the Civil War. After the war he created numerous genre works.

Detail abounds throughout his works of art. Small flags, feathers on hats, spokes of wheels, and even the backgrounds are complete. Many of his painting are of horse and buggies on roads or in villages.

We have been reading the art book Can You Find It? America: Search and Discover More Than 150 Details in 20 Works of Art (Can You Find It? (Abrams Books for Young Readers)). The book contains around 20 works of art done by Americans. Each work contains a short list of items for children to find "I Spy" in the work. The back of the book contains a short description of each work.

The book contains Henry's North Dutch Church painting. In connection with a unit study to learn about United States geographic regions, we came across this painting. I showed my daughter the painting and asked her where she thought the church was. She said, "Germany," which was a pretty good guess I thought. We used to live in Germany and it does look a lot more like Germany than like the churches in Western Michigan. Anyway, the church was torn down shortly after the painting was completed, but it was in New York. Immigrants settling in America commonly built structures in the style and manner of their homelands. The North Dutch Church in New York, built by immigrants from the Netherlands is a great example.

After reading more about Edward Lamson Henry on the internet we viewed the 5 minute video linked above to see more of his paintings. Then my daughter created her own genre artwork using chalk.

 The picture shows children sledding on toboggans and circle sleds.

Bridge Unit Study - Lesson 3: Trusses

My son built and tested a truss bridge.

Trusses are formed when two straight pieces come together to form a rigid joint. Most often they are triangular in shape and trusses are used in all types of construction from roof tops, to the Eiffel Tower and of course bridges.  

The book Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design, Build & Test (Kaleidoscope Kids), explained how trusses work and then suggested a project for building a truss bridge. Again, my son jumped in.

 Using craft sticks and glue my sun built a truss bridge full of triangles.

 It took several days to build the bridge as he needed to wait for the glue to dry after each new side was constructed.

 Once it was finished and dry, testing began.

 His plan was to attach a road to the bridge (a ruler) and hang a bucket full of weights from the road.

 The basic idea worked well, but the bridge turned out to be much stronger than he anticipated.

In order to test the bridge to the point of failure, a stronger road surface was required as it was the weakest link in the design.

 Throughout the process, he took notes which included a sketch of his design as well as estimates of how much weight the bridge could hold.

Test set-up

Weighing coins to determine how much weight was applied to the bridge

A stronger ruler (road surface) was used

Free weights were used instead of coins as they were heavier

Books, weights, soup cans......... lots of heavy stuff - the bridge still held strong

Finally he got a hold of heavier weights.

 The bridge reached failure. 

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Native American Unit Study - Lesson 7b: Hopi Clothing

My daughter made a Hopi dress with a belt.

In the book More Than Moccasins: A Kid's Activity Guide to Traditional North American Indian Life (Hands-On History) by Laurie Carlson, my daughter learned that Hopi women wore dresses with only one shoulder strap belted at the waist. She decided to make a dress of her own.

Her dress was constructed from fleece. To cut the material she laid one of her tank tops on top of the material to get the sizing close. Then she cut the fabric into a dress shape.

The dress was sewn down the sides and at the shoulder.

A decorative ribbon was added at the bottom.

Next she cut a long narrow strip of fleece to be tied at the waist as a belt. Fringe was added to the end of the belt as were fancy stitches into the boarders.

If you've been following Highhill Education, you may have noticed the theme of green fleece in the Native American clothing posts. My daughter's favorite craft is sewing. Therefore, after reading about many different traditions of Native American tribes, my daughter usually decided to make an article of clothing for her craft. She has an entire Native American outfit nearly completed. However, the outfit was made by combining the traditional clothing styles of many different tribes. Therefore, you will have to wait a week or two to see the entire outfit. Stay tuned. :)

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