Friday, August 20, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up.....Going Native

This was our last week of the US in our "Exploring Countries and Cultures" curriculum from My Father's World. (The curriculum covered US in two weeks, we took three so that we could incorporate some trip planning into our school). Here are two art and history projects that can be used, regardless of your curriculum.

This week, we focused a little on Native American histories, languages, and cultures.

We read about the Navajo in Window on the World. Did you know that, according to the Window on the World authors, the Navajo are the only North American tribe with the whole Bible in their own language? The translation process took 40 years and was facilitated, in part, by a blind Navajo man who could read Braille and speak English. He would read an English Braille Bible and then translate aloud in Navajo.

We of course talked about the Navajo code talkers who were so key during World War II. We found the Navajo lands on a map and looked at pictures of the landscapes. We looked at some silver and turqouise jewelry. (Did you know Arizona is the only state to have official state neckwear?)

We did a google image search on Navajo sand art and then discussed the patterns and designs in the art. We found examples of radial symmetry and simple line symmetry. We talked about the subjects portrayed and the colors used (dictated by materials on hand to make the colored sands.)

Then we tried our hand at our own sand art paintings.
Some tips on making your own sand art:
  1. Use heavy/card stock paper.
  2. Pick natural colors. (Our sand color choices were limited to what we found in the kids craft aisle at Meijer because we didn't have time for a craft store run.)
  3. Use simple, symmetrical designs with large shapes. (Small details will get lost.)
  4. After drawing the design with a pencil, younger children should go over their designs with a black permanent marker. (Or an adult can do this step for them.)
  5. Put a little school glue in a clean milk jug lid or other small tray.
  6. Place the paper on a cookie sheet with edges for easier cleanup.
  7. Use a small paintbrush to quickly cover all areas that will be the same color. (So, cover with glue all the shapes that will be blue, for example.)
  8. Try to work from the center out, as much as possible. (So, in Sweetling's design, we should have covered the large green circle first. We didn't have this helpful hint when we were working, but in retrospect, that's what we should have done.)
  9. Sprinkle a fine layer of sand over the glue painted areas. Be sure to cover all the glue areas.
  10. Pick up the paper and let the excess sand slide off. (If desired, you can use a small funnel to slide the excess sand from the paper directly back into its bag.)
  11. Repeat the process with the next color of sand to be applied to the design.

The second native culture we spent a little time with was the Cherokee nation.

We learned about Sequoyah and how he invented the written Cherokee language. At the beginning of the week, we had kicked off our study of the book of Matthew by making bookmarks with the name of Matthew in its Greek letters. So, it seemed fitting to end our week by making bookmarks with our own names in Cherokee. (The top bookmark is Sweetlings, the middle is Toa's, who enjoyed the process so much he wanted to translate his last name into Cherokee as well, and the bottom yellow one is mine.)

We were able to do this project because of a wonderful online tutorial about the basics of the Cherokee language. Did you know that the Cherokee alphabet isn't a letter by letter alphabet, but a syllabic alphabet? Did you know that it took Sequoyah twelve years to perfect this system, and that the first person he taught it to was his little girl? Did you know that within a few months to two years after the introduction of this alphabet, nearly the entire Cherokee nation had taught itself to read and write in it? Did you know in about four years after the introduction of this alphabet, much of the Bible and many hymns had been translated into it? In seven yeas after its introduction, a newspaper was being published. (Which makes me question the claim that the Navajo are the only North American tribe to have the entire Bible in their own language. You do realize I'll be staying up late googling this, right? So, now its 12:18 am, and according to wikipedia, it appears that only portions of the Bible have been published in Cherokee. Here's another site that backs that up.)

To make your own Cherokee book marks, here's what to do:
  1. Have an adult or a teen read the introduction to the Cherokee alphabet. It's important to have a basic understanding of how a syllabic alphabet functions. There is even an audio file that illustrates how each symbol sounds when spoken.
  2. Have an adult or teen read the online instructions for how to write English names in Cherokee. Included on this page is a printable copy of the Cherokee alphabet, some examples of translating English names into Cherokee, and a phonetic guide for how the vowel sounds correspond.  
  3. Get a piece of paper and a pencil for each person, print the chart of the Cherokee alphabet for each person, and get whatever you are going to use for your bookmarks. (We wrote ours on wide, colored craft sticks. Later we're going to ask the Jedi to make us some holes on the ends of the bookmarks to attach some tassels.)
  4. On the piece of paper, each person writes their name in English first. (ie--Mommy)
  5. Under the English spelling, each person writes their name phonetically--breaking it into simple syllables and using the Cherokee vowel sounds (So, Mommy becomes MA - ME).
  6. Still on the paper, practice writing the Cherokee symbols for each syllable.
  7. Then, write the Cherokee symbols on your bookmark.
  8. Finally, use a permanent marker to trace over the Cherokee letters.

Other fun things we did this week---

Toa built a person (think the symbol for the Vancouver winter Olympics) and a sphynix out of the foam packing blocks that came in a recent shipment. (And yes, my school desk is usually that cluttered, thanks.)

Just as a happy aside, my anniversary present from the Jedi came in that box with those foam blocks. Check out how beautiful it is--
It's an aeolian harp. It's still sitting on the brown paper it was wrapped in, because it still has a little oil on it from the curing process (or whatever that is called). But the Jedi had it made specially to fit the dimensions of our living room window sill. Is it not gorgeous?

Back on the topic of our school week, I sent Toa on a quick scavenger hunt through the house when he needed a wiggle break. I told him to go find and bring back one thing that he liked--the first letter of each of the items had to line up with each of the letters of his name. Then he lined up the items on his desk and put magnetic letters under each of the items. I snapped a picture, but just realized I can't post it without revealing Toa's real name. (And then his secret identity would be exposed, and we'd be contending with cases of kryptonite for weeks.) But it was a fun, and easy break from bookwork.

Sweetling is on module 2 of her Apologia Biology. She needed to collect four samples of pond water for a study on the Kingdom Monera. So, off to the pond we went. We took Sweetling's camera and Toa's nature journal and had fun exploring a pond. 

Some of us got more into the activity than others....
And, one day this week, it was 76 degrees and beautiful, and Mommy decided to scrap our regular lessons in favor of an adventure, so we went letterboxing (our second letterbox hunt). This hunt took us to a treehouse, which we had never visited, in a local park.

Have I mentioned recently how much I'm loving having our freedom back? Love our new curriculum, love our new approach to schooling. I am so glad we made the change and am so grateful that the Jedi trusted me and supported me in making the switch.

If I can (meaning, if I can just copy and paste it), I'll leave you with John 3:16 in Cherokee.

Read what other families did this week at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.


Giggly Girls said...

Looks like a fun week!

I think my desk is a bit more cluttered than yours. :o)

wdworkman said...

Looks like a fun week. ECC was one of our funnest years.

Janet W

Nicole said...

Although the sand art was intended for a study of Navajo I am hoping to be able to use it in our Ancient Egypt lessons. Thanks!

Cheryl said...

AMAZING! A truly, great week. I love Native American culture.

Super S said...

Kryptonite? Is this what the post office has to deal with these days? Man, and I though the Goomba phase was bad...