Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Did You Ever Wonder Why? The Navigators' "Pourquoi Stories"

We have read a lot of wonderful myths, legends, and folktales from around the world as we have studied native cultures. 

And now it's our turn to write a "pourquoi story" - a story that answers why - using the beginning, middle  and end format of story writing.

The Beginning

Have you ever wondered why the sun is in the sky?

Well, first....
Notice the descriptive language of this first grader's writing.

Did you ever wonder how the eagle got it's claws?
The beginning of the story: the setting (time and place) and the introduction of the main character

The Middle 

Can you imagine being a buffalo without fur? This is the middle of a story telling how terrible it must have been to have this problem! This story pulled in information we learned about the Plains Native Americans.

The mystery of Bigfoot has been wondered about for ages. Did you know he had to go on ten quests in order to get his big feet? Here's one of the quests:

Just in case you're wondering, here's what kangaroo had to go through to get to Australia (and this story was written before we studied geology!)

And it's hard to imagine the lengths the narwhal had to go to to get his "kabob" on his nose but this student spells it out with lots of details. 

You've probably asked the question, "How did the lizard get its spikes?"
Well, here's how it happened. Who knew??

Have you ever asked why the giraffe has a long neck and the elephant has a long trunk?
Well, of course, they  grabbed each other and pulled each other until...

The Resolution!

The End

And now we know "pourquoi", aren't you glad?!

Reading to our schoolmates:

A few extra touches:
(How do they come up with these things?)

Thanks for reading excerpts from our first grade stories. We each came up with our own idea, then typed up our stories using Microsoft PowerPoint, and finally illustrated them. Some students were totally independent with minimal editing (including quotation marks!) while others - those with fantastic, big ideas but are still working on getting them all down on paper - dictated parts of their stories. Differentiation is how we roll here at Seabury and the results are wonderfully amazing. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Getting to Know the Cowlitz Up Close and Personal

We have had the privilege and the honor to learn about Native Americans from Native Americans! One of our students is a Cowlitz tribal member and her dad and her grandpa Bob came in several times to tell stories and teach us about how they do things. 

Walking sticks

and woven hats

Some of the carved items that hang on their walls at their home

Her grandfather, the Cowlitz tribal carver, came in to show us his tools 
and some of the things he has carved. 

It starts with a block of old growth cedar which is hard to come by these days. We watched how easy it is to make thin planks out of the wood.

Bob told us how he has an "abundance" of cedar to share with others, the mindset and a value we have discovered that many Native Americans have. 

Using all our senses - it smells so good!

Carving a feather for us. The trick is to pull the tool toward you.


We were each gifted a carved feather and three grades of sand paper. 
The goal was to make a very smooth feather. 

So we sanded and sanded and sanded.


 Thank you, Grandpa Bob, for the feathers and for coming in and showing us how to carve. 

We all gained an appreciation for the tall cedar trees that can be carved into beautiful things. 

The Navigators and the Gemstones enjoyed trying out the drum. 

What a great opportunity to experience the Native American culture up close and personal!
 Thank you, Bob and Danial!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

How Difficult Is It to Put Up a Tepee? (And Gaining Respect in the Process)

Engineering challenge: Put up a tepee with 15 sticks

We started off this challenge with 15 poles 
and a length of "sinew" (string).

After several minutes of attempts, there was a cacophony of "I need help, I need help!" heard around the room. Even as the students helped one another they were miserably unable to make a solid stand of poles for their buffalo hide coverings. 
(A perfect lesson in perseverance and grit - two of our favorite words at Seabury!)

So we got some advice from David and Charlotte Yue 
in their book, The Tipi A Center of Native American Life

The advice was to tie either three or four (depending on the tribe) poles together and make a sturdy tripod or quadpod (new word). Then lay the other poles on top of the solid foundation. 

We tried this and it worked much better. 
But it was still quite difficult. 

We then stretched our buffalo hide coverings over our poles.
We attached them using the modern day convenience called glue guns.

And voila! Our Native American village, complete with bushes, canoes, fire pits, travoises, and drying racks. We even had an assortment of plains animals that visited our village.


 We learned (and experienced through our model making) that the Plains Native Americans were dependent on buffalo for survival. 

Here we are  determining what parts of the buffalo were used for food, clothing, shelter, tools, etc. 

The Natives Americans had great respect for nature as we learned in this book, The Buffalo Are Back by Jean Craighead George. The book was perfect for tying together some of our various science and social studies topics this year: conservation, plants, animals and Native Americans. 

Here's what the Scholastic website says about it:

We learned a lot about the word respect as we studied Native Americans and as we did this project.

From Merriam-Webster:
  • high or special regard :  esteem 
  • an act of giving particular attention :  consideration
  1. They were skilled, innovative engineers, able to build stable, weatherproof, transportable, beautiful homes from the natural resources available. We discovered this is not as easy as it looks and we esteem them!
  2. The Native Americans gave great attention and consideration to the world in which they lived, taking only what they needed and not wasting any of what they took. They held nature in high esteem as we can see by their ways of life. We hope to live in such a way that we, too, show great respect to the world we live in.