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Hides That Reveal

Study Native American use of animal hides for homes and clothing.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Students learn how many Native American peoples cured and used animal hides. The Plains Indians, for example, made teepees and clothing. Teepee designs often portrayed history, war scenes, and symbols of supernatural creatures related to the male teepees dweller's fast-induced visions and dreams. Hanging hides were often used for record keeping. If possible, students find out how indigenous peoples in their area used animal hides, and which animals were available.
    2. Roll white Crayola® Model Magic® with a dowel, rolling pin, or fingers to 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Let it stiffen slightly.
    3. Students make either a teepee or hanging hide. Use Crayola Scissors or a plastic knife to cut the compound into a pelt shape (hanging hide) or half circle (teepee). Pelt: Punch two holes in the upper legs with a punch or stick. Use yarn to hang the pelt from a stick. Teepee: Make a tripod with three sticks. Wrap the sticks together at the top with yarn. For stability, press the sticks into a base of recycled rigid foam used for packing. Then wrap the teepee hide around the sticks. Tie it in place with yarn. Let the Model Magic dry or cure.
    4. Use Crayola Washable Fine Tip Markers or MiniStampers to create personal designs, with each student's history and dreams.
    5. Share the stories depicted on these hides with classmates or families during an open house.
  • Standards

    LA: Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

    LA: Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text.

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grade level text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    SCI: Communicate information about how some characteristics of organisms have been used to inspire the design of technology that meets people’s changing needs and wants.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

    VA: Explore and understand prospective content for works of art.

    VA: Identify specific works of art as belonging to particular cultures, times, and places.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomi dePaola; The Return of the Buffaloes: A Plains Indian Story about Famine and Renewal of the Earth by Paul Goble; Iktomi and the Berries: A Plains Indian Story by Paul Goble; The Pawnee Indians: Farmers and Hunters of the Central Plains by Karen Bush Gibson

    Students research the Plains Indians, how they lives and traveled, how they made their homes, hunted, and what symbols were used in their culture and why.

    Students write journal entries to describe and define each of the symbols on their teepee or hanging hide. Journal entries can also include a brief discussion of the day in the life of a Plains Indian. Students are encouraged to illustrate their writing entries.

    Students investigate long houses created by the Iroquois Indians of the northeast with the teepees of the Plains Indians. How were each constructed? Why were the Plains Indians better suited to using the teepee housing while the Iroquois were better suited to long houses?


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