It is always a challenge to do a Cultural block like Native American Legends or Aesop's Fables (which we will do next year), because there are so many wonderful ones to choose from! You must keep in mind that it is about presenting a few carefully-chosen tales which speak deeply to the child.
Quality is better than quantity. Students will have lots of continued exposure to First Nations peoples as the Waldorf curriculum continues to unfold.
Monday, May 11
- recall and add "The First Flute" to MLB
- discuss how far the Great Plains stretched, and the need for people who did not speak the same language to trade with one another; look at and try some signs in Native American Sign Language: How Native Americans Use Hand Signals to Communicate by Madeline Oldsen
- discuss the importance of the buffalo to the people who lived on the Plains
- read new legend:
Buffalo Dance: A Blackfoot Legend
retold by Nancy Van Laan
Blackfoot - Great Plains - Montana
Tuesday, May 12
- recall and add "Buffalo Dance" to MLB
- look at "Later Paleoindians driving bison off a cliff, about 8000 B.C." in Dover's Indian Life in Pre-Columbian North America Coloring Book; it is incredible that this techqnique has been used for 10,000 years
- look at United States Control Map, Labeled to review the regions we have already studied: Northeast, Eastern Woodlands, Southeast, Mississippi & Ohio Rivers, Texas and the Great Plains all the way up to Montana; which region east of the Continental Divide still remains?
- discuss the geography and climate of the Great Lakes region
- discuss modern-day tribal lands (and how they are not the same as U.S. states or territories)
- discuss the importance of keeping Native languages from becoming extinct and the efforts in this regard; share that two of my daughters live in Northern Wisconsin by tribal lands, that their high school has dual signage throughout the building in English and the Ojibwe language, and that the school also uses Native American Language Revitalization Grant funds to offer Ojibwemowin classes for students
- read new legend:
The Legend of the Lady Slipper
retold by Lise Lunge-Larsen and Margi Preus
Ojibwe - Great Lakes
Thursday, May 14
- recall and add "The Legend of the Lady Slipper" to MLB
- ask families to watch video of the last living fluent speaker of Wichita and efforts to preserve the Cherokee language
- ask families to watch video produced in conjunction with NASA about Navajo cultural beliefs about the stars
I know the second video is long but since it includes so many images of the region and you are able to hear some of the language, I thought it was valuable. You can watch the second portion, about the modern scientific explanation, or stop it after the Navajo portion.
Friday, May 15
- look at the Desert biome on the North America Continent Stencil; discuss plants and animals of this biome; consider shelter building and look at Houses of adobe from the Native Dwellings series by Bonnie Shemie as well as the Diné three part cards from the Complete Set of Biome Cards for the Continents (hogan, fry bread)
- hear student report on the Havasupai - Southwest - Arizona
- hear "The Legend of the Canyon Walls Opening" from the Havasupai
- read Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard
Our Navajo legend for Monday ties in with the stars video; I'm glad that the children could see the photos in it of the Four Sacred Mountains. It is so challenging for me as a teacher when we have technical difficulties, and the children can't heard the stories as I intended to share them. Turning to YouTube resources instead can feel like a patchwork solution. But in this case, it turned out to be a blessing as it gives students a deeper sense of the culture and some information that they otherwise wouldn't have had.
So I need to let go of this worry that "it isn't the way that I planned it," and I just have to keep reminding myself that we are all doing the best we can in very difficult circumstances. And hopefully in the Fall we will be able to come together in small groups. Stay home and stay safe, everyone!
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