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How do people communicate when the landscape is as barren and forbidding as Arctic tundra? Make a stone message board Inuit-style.
What happens when two people get together? They talk. People like to share what they know. They talk about what is important to them. Communicating-by talking, writing notes, or using a cell phone, is easy today for most people. It was far more difficult on the sparse, snowy landscape of Northern Canada near the Arctic circle. To get messages to each other, the Inuit people began an ancient tradition in their homeland-they built Inuksuks.
Invite students to investigate the communication practices of the Inuit people. Organize a wide variety of text and electronic resources for students to view. When research is complete, bring the class together to discuss their learning.
When the discussion has drawn to a close, students will create a stone-like material to illustrate their learning. Begin by having them mix white Crayola® Model Magic with aquarium gravel in a recycled foam produce tray. The graininess of the stone depends on how much gravel is added to the Model Magic.
Students flatten the Model Magic into slabs with the palms of their hands or use a rolling pin. Cut the slab into several rock-like shapes with a plastic dinner knife. Dry overnight.
Students decide on the purpose and placement of their Inuksuks. Do you want it to announce that you passed this way? Are you making a memorial for a lost pet? Guiding friends to a special place? Or welcoming visitors into your room?
Assemble Inuksuks on a recycled foam produce trays. For example, pile the stones so that several point one direction. Or make a "window" of stones through which a viewer can look. Glue the stones in place with Crayola School Glue. Dry.
When all artwork is complete, organize a display in the classroom. Invite students to figure out what message is represented in each Inuksuk.
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