Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pow Wow was a Success!

If you ask the kids about the best part of the day - it was dancing and singing. How great it is to know that they enjoy showing their families and friends how hard they have practiced over the last couple weeks. As they come out in their costumes, the teachers are proud, the kids are excited, and the parents are amazed. Pow Wow is just not about costumes and dancing. We have proven that through all our hard academic work. But the costumes and dancing are the celebration of tribes just as it has always been for Native Americans. They dress in their best. They sing. They dance. They celebrate life and food. And that is what Chets Creek Pow Wow is all about. Check out our student blog to see how much the kids have learned!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Who were the Nez Perce?

Each year the Kindergarten team at Chets Creeks completes a Native American Study. Each class is assigned to a tribe to study over a 3 week period. Our culminating event is a Pow Wow where each class participates in dance and song while dressed in their Native American attire. To describe this unit in its entirety is almost impossible. Every detail is taken care of from decorating the outside of the room, learning a wealth of information, making costumes, having a parent night, to the Pow Wow event itself. The academic unit focuses on many areas such as vocabulary, shared readings, elements of non-fiction for reading, functional writing, report writing, and sound through vibrations. The vocabulary focuses on words that describe the Native Americans or were specific to their tribe such as parfleche (a satchel used by the Nez Perce to carry their items.) Shared readings include poems written about the tribe. Reader's Workshop teaches students how to read non-fiction from different elements (headings, captions, glossary, gaining meaning from the pictures). Writer's Workshop focuses on writing functional pieces about the items they make in class such as a parfleche or medicine bag and ending with students writing reports which include non-fiction elements learned in reading. We also discuss sound and vibrations for science as we learn that the drums make different sounds by the size and content in the drum. This truly is a unit of study in all curriculum areas. While the students are learning about their tribe, we are also busy making our costumes. We try our best to make them authentic in look. We study what they wore and how they made their daily clothing and best dress for Pow Wow's. Of course we couldn't make this work without the great help from parents throughout the unit. The Pow Wow itself is a big day. We begin our morning with the song and dance celebration for all the tribes. Parents and some grade levels are invited to join. Once that is done, we rotate through stations run with our resource team. We complete activities such as food tasting, Native American tribal games, symbol writing, make clay pieces, look at artifacts, etc. By the end of the day, and the end of the unit, we are all exhausted. Though this may seem to be an immense amount of work, and it is, this becomes a lifelong memory for most of our students. Each year, students come back and remind us how much they learned about their tribe. Most students even remember their Native American names. My own children, who are now 14 and 12, participated in Chets Creek Pow Wow in Kindergarten. Although it was still new then and a lot has grown out of the unit over the years, it is still a memory for both of them that they love to talk about. That truly is what learning is all about!

Watch this week to learn about our tribe and see highlights from Pow Wow on our class blog at or look under favorite links!