Native Americans


IMG_5080Some of our students are learning about Native Americans as part of their Unique Curriculum unit this month. We did a Native American unit a couple of years ago so figured it would be fun to revisit the activities with a few updates here and there. There were some fantastic boxes for our sensory group to explore while they learned some fun facts about Native Americans. Our fine motor group made drums and an awesome totem pole. The language group made comparisons between Native American lives in the past and what lives are like today.





IMG_4525This box was filled with items important for many tribes. Corn was an important food source for  the Apalachee and Ponca tribes so corn kernels were a perfect base for this box. This was a “something for everyone” box with lots of fun things to discover.

We  included other play food such as a corn cob, squash and fish—-types of food many tribes enjoyed. Strands of raffia represented “swamp grass” which the Chinook used to make baskets.

Animals like sheep, which the Navaho raised and horses that the Comanche rode could be found hidden in the kernels. Sioux and Arapaho lived in tipis like the one in our box! Finally we included the word “Family”.

IMG_4779The social studies access points recognize differences in food or clothing from other cultures is addressed with this box and recognize a characteristic of early Native Americans.







IMG_4553The Sioux, Omaha, Comanchee, and Arapaho tribes are known for wearing feathers.  We filled this box with variety of feathers of all shapes and sizes.  Full of ticklish fun, while a little messy—-feathers ended up everywhere—–this really was a great box for our students 🙂

The feathers have a wonderful tactile feel but they are also fun to toss up and watch drift down addressed the science access point track objects in motion.






IMG_4547IMG_4584We had an awesome jam session listening to some Native American music we recorded on the voice output device. Even some of our students who often need help to press the switches responded to the music—-we were pretty excited! Our students also enjoyed making their own music with shaker bottles  made with acorns which the Yokuts ate and beads used by the Wampanoag, Cherokee, and Kiowa tribes.

The science access point recognize and respond to common sounds was addressed here.



IMG_4769The Pueblo play dough was made using Black Cherry and Orange koolaid. We thought the color turned out pretty perfect! Whether trying to make their own “pots” like the famous Pueblo pottery or using the deer cookie cutter—-the students had a great time exploring!

The math access point associate quantities with number names can be addressed as the deer are counted.

The science access point apply a push to move an object is also addressed.






IMG_4761The Zuni are famous for their beautiful turquoise jewelry. We thought our box of turquoise beans looked pretty beautiful also! Neon blue food coloring was used to achieve the color and while it is a great effect, get ready for some “blue” fingers!

Besides the wonderful feel as they sift through fingers, there were also 4 letter Z’s to find hidden among the beans.

Track objects in motion is a science access point that can be addressed here.

IMG_4795Of course that can be hard to do when your teacher is distracting you with kisses 🙂







IMG_4620IMG_4588Buffalo and deer were very important to many Native American tribes. The Comanchee hunted buffalo and the Arapaho wore buckskin clothing. This box contained some fake fur “buffalo” hide and ultra suede “buckskin” invited touch. We also included some matching beanie babies for our students to cuddle.

IMG_4622The social studies access point identify practices of Native American is addressed again here.



IMG_4839IMG_4634Many Native Americans gathered around campfires to celebrate special occasions. Our campfire was made by mixing yellow and red food coloring with shaving cream to make orange campfire “flames”.

As always, our messy play was a huge hit 🙂

Looking at how the shaving cream changes as the colors are mixed addresses the science access point of recognizing that the appearance of an object or material has changed.


IMG_4570We thought that juniper breeze scent from Bath and Body works was the perfect scent to represent the importance of nature to Native Americans. All the shaving cream we used was rinsed off with water scented with this nice outdoorsy aroma—–perfect.

Two different sized measuring cups were added to the water dish. They were great for rinsing and addressing the science access point recognize differences in sizes of containers that hold liquids!







IMG_4663On Tuesday after listening to some Native American drum music we made our own really cool drums! We started by cutting 2 squares into 4 triangles using our paper cutter.

Recognize common objects with 2 dimensional shapes and recognize parts of whole objects are math access points that can be addressed here.






IMG_4696Then we glued them onto a piece of rectangular paper. We started with a blue triangle then placed a red one.

Next we asked our students which color came next in the pattern—–this addresses the math access point recognize the next step in a simple pattern or sequence of activities!







IMG_4716IMG_4718After the paper was taped around a coffee can it was time for our drum circle! We put on some Native American music and the students joined in. IMG_4731                                                       They LOVED making their own music——so much fun!!!



IMG_5019On Thursday we made a super awesome totem pole! We covered some cereal boxes with art paper and let our students choose which box they wanted to decorate.

Use body movement or nonverbal expression to communicate preferences is a language access point.







IMG_5025Then we discussed body parts and asked the students to point out their eyes, nose, mouth, and ears.

Recognize one or more body parts is a science access point.

We also counted the pieces—–1 nose and 1 mouth, 2 eyes and 2 ears. The students used communication symbols to indicate their understanding of associate quantities 1 and 2 with number names.

They totally rocked this—–our students are so awesome!






IMG_5062IMG_5073Our wonderful volunteers had made a selection of stylized facial features for our students to choose from to decorate their totems. We placed glue on the boxes to reinforce the concept of one to one correspondence and eye hand coordination.

Match one object to a designated space to show one to one correspondence is a math access point.






IMG_5100TA DA!!! Our students were so excited about their totems and they loved when we stacked—–while counting, of course 🙂  them on top of each other to made a totem pole.

IMG_5106This is going to look SOOOO cool outside Jeannie’s classroom!












IMG_4924This week was all about comprehension for our language group.  Before reading the book, we reminded our students to pay close attention to what was being read.  We also reminded them to look closely at the pictures included.

After the book, we went around and asked our students a yes/no question, one-by-one.  We printed out the pictures that were included in the book, along with modern items seen today that would contrast things Native Americans might have used a long time ago.  For instance, with the canoe we put a car, with the headdress we put a baseball cap, with the breechcloth we put jeans, etc.

Use technology resources to support learning is a language access point.


IMG_4940We presented one picture at a time to each student and asked if it was something a Native American from long ago would have used.  They had to indicate YES or NO using a pre-programmed voice output device with the Boardmaker symbols for yes/no located on it.  If they answered incorrectly, we referenced the book to check our answers.

Listen and respond to stories and information text is a language access point.



IMG_4972IMG_4959After the comprehension check, we got the voice output used in the sensory group with Native American music on it and turned it on.  We passed out the shakers used in the sensory group as well as drums and bells.

IMG_4991                                                      Our students played along to the music——so much fun!


It was another great week of fun and learning—–join us again Group by Group!

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