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Longhouse Spirits

Tell bigger-than-life raven stories from the Tlingit, Salish, and Haida nations. Build a miniature theatre to set the stage for your drama.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Native Americans who live in Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington create art and drama based on characters in traditional stories. The star of these is Raven, who is believed to be a trickster and also a shapechanger (he could change his shape into other animals). Raven stories teach lessons about how animals live together in nature. Other characters include Beaver (hard working), Mouse Woman (fairy godmother), Eagle (very powerful being) and Bear (greedy and always hungry). Share some of these stories with students in a read aloud setting. Allow time for students to discuss the stories. Invite students to create this easy origami backdrop for a puppet theater.
    2. Fold a replica longhouse: Fold large construction paper in half so the short ends meet. Fold both open ends into the middle. Unfold. Spread the flaps at each end apart and crease to form a triangle at the top. Unfold. Push the triangle up to form the house.
    3. Spirit shape: Students decide which spirit being best describes you or your family. Draw it on with Crayola® Washable Markers. Begin drawing with traditional black shapes (formlines). Add more interesting designs inside these with the traditional colors of red and blue-green.
    4. Cut out the spirit shape with Crayola Scissors. Use a Crayola Glue Stick to attach the spirit to the longhouse. Students write artist’s statements about why they each chose this character to represent themselves or their families.
  • Standards

    LA: Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.

    LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

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

    LA: Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    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.

    SS: Compare and contrast different stories or accounts about past events, people, places, or situations, identifying how they contribute to our understanding of the past.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

    VA: Use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.

    VA: Describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural contexts.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: How Raven Stole the Sun by Maria Williams; Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest by Gerald McDermott; Tlingit Tales: Potlatch and Totem Pole by Lorie K. Harris

    Students research basic shapes used in Pacific Northwest Native Art (pvoid, U-form, S-form, and formline). Students draw other characters using each of these shapes.

    Students may wish to research the art of Native American tribes from the Southwest, Mid-West, etc. How is their art similar to that of the Pacific Northwest tribes? How is it different?


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