January 11, 2012

Wampum Belt

original, completely non-authentic wampum art
Our K-12 art curriculum had a lesson on Wampum Belts that had the kids design their own belt on a piece of grid paper.  Wampum belts were valuable bead belts that told stories with pictures because the people didn't have a written language.  And much to Hunter's excitement, they only came in white and purple!  We designed their Wampum belts on paper, but that was a little boring.  Boring, but what else could we do? 

This was one of those weeks where things just randomly came together in a way that I could never have planned.  We checked out a movie from the library called the Song of Hiawatha, which ended up being a fabulous and beautifully done movie.  At one point in the movie, Hiawatha goes to the greatest arrowhead maker to trade for arrow heads and the maker asks him, "What do you have for trade?  I won't trade with just anyone."  Hiawatha offers him a Wampum belt and that seals the deal.  The kids were way excited at this small detail because they knew a little something about the belts and understood in a meaningful way why this one belt was a good enough offering to get the man's finest arrowheads.

Then, in a completely random search through some art teacher blogs, I found a tutorial on Wampum weaving!  I wasn't even looking for it, so this was fortune at it's finest.  I bookmarked the tute, planning to come back tomorrow with the kids.  Then again, without looking, I found a home schooler blog that happened to use the very same art teacher's blog, but used rolled paper to make the beads in white and purple!  Score!  It's like the planets aligned in favor of a decent lesson on wampum belts because the first had been so very insufficient.

So today we sat down and made our paper beads, our cardboard loom, and took turns weaving rows of wampum beads.  So fun!  And result was really cool!  It gave the kids a new appreciation for how hard it must have been to weave 6 ft. long belts from very small, hand made beads.  They just wove a few rows of very large beads and they were worn out immediately!

Hannah Jane was the only one with any staying power and even she sighed with relief when her last row was done.  Then she saw that her next task was alphabetizing her spelling list and she was immediately ready to make more beads to weave in order to get out of the dreaded alphabetizing! 

A tip for anyone who decides to give this a go, construction paper wrapped around skewers makes for pathetic beads.  It's too thick and doesn't want to stay all rolled up.  Printer paper, all thin and flimsy, seems to apprecait being made into a bead and stays all rolled quite nicely.  When I looked at the other woman's blog and saw that her kids had actually colored purple paper for beads, I thought Ha!  Too much work!  Purple construction paper!   But now I see that i didn't really outsmart anyone but myself.  Our purple beads are all fat and unrolled and our white are nice and tight.  So, learn from my mistake and go with coloring the printer paper!

Big fun!  Tomorrow the plan is to build models of Native American housing.  Whoo-Hoo!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hit me with some comments!!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
© At Home with Momma Skyla. Powered by