Buffalo-Hide Parfleche

Buffalo-Hide Parfleche lesson plan

Discover the timeless beauty of Native American designs. This parfleche is so contemporary!

  • 1.

    Present historic and contemporary information about the cultures of one or more of the Native American Plains Indians including the Sioux, Crow, and Blackfoot to the class. Students will learn about their homes, foods, everyday life, transportation, and tribal governance. They used parfleches, or rawhide envelopes and boxes, to carry their belongings while following bison (often called buffalo) herds. What designs were common? Have students choose one or more of these distinctive patterns to duplicate on a replica of a parfleche.

  • 2.

    Cover work area with recycled newspaper. Students carefully separate four large brown paper grocery bags where they are glued together. Measure and cut out four rectangles approximately 27 by 18 inches (69 by 46 cm) with Crayola® Scissors. Round the rectangle corners.

  • 3.

    Soak or spray the four sheets of paper with water. Gently crumple to squeeze out excess water. Use a Crayola Paint Brush or sponge to spread Crayola School Glue on each damp sheet. Layer one on top of the other, with print facing inward. Place heavy objects on top to flatten the bags. Dry.

  • 4.

    Fold the top of the layered bags down about 5 1/2 inches (14 cm). Fold the bottom up until it almost touches the top flap. Fold each side into the center to form two flaps. Place heavy objects on the parfleche to hold its shape.

  • 5.

    Decorate the outside of the parfleche with Crayola Crayons, using a colorful, authentic Plains Indian design.

  • 6.

    Punch holes on the top and bottom of each flap. Thread strings or ribbons through the holes to close the parfleche.

Standards

  • LA: Read with sufficient fluency and accuracy to support comprehension.
  • LA: Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
  • LA: Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
  • LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
  • MATH: Solve problems involving measurement and conversion of measurements.
  • MATH: Draw and identify lines and angles, and classify shapes by properties of their lines and angles.
  • SS: Explore and describe similarities and differences in the ways groups, societies, and cultures address similar human needs and concerns.
  • SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.
  • SS: Describe and speculate about physical system changes, such as seasons, climate and weather, and the water cycle.
  • VA: Use different media techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.
  • VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

Adaptations

  • As students study information about the cultures of the Native American Plains Indians, encourage them to draw an outline of the United States and track the movements of the tribes throughout the twelve months of the year. Students can create an original icon for each of the individual tribes and document where they traveled throughout the year. Students speculate the motivation behind the movement.
  • Parfleche is a term that combines two French words, parer (to deflect) and fleche (arrow). Using the map of the United States students have created in this study, ask them to consider how this Native American term has its origins in the French language.
  • The thunderbird allegory is found in the mythology of Pacific Northwest and Northeastern tribes. Students research additional information about this symbol and its significance to trickster folklore.
  • The Plains Indians used specific symbols on their parfleche that reflected their life experiences. Challenge students to study their community, state, and/or country and identify symbols used to reflect their lives. What are some of these symbols and what do they illustrate about the society? Students use Crayola Crayons, colored pencils, or markers to sketch each symbol and write a short paragraph reflecting the history and importance of the symbol in their culture.