Native American Picture Writing

Hi Friends! Before Thanksgiving has come and gone, I wanted to share a fun and easy activity we did last week for you to file away or Pin to your Thanksgiving board for next year if you like! Because all of the schools in my district are named after Native American tribes, we always spend a significant amount of time learning about Native American culture and traditions in our classroom. 

It is a tradition in my room to do some Native American PICTOGRAPH writing in November. 

When I hear that word it makes me think of graphing, but a pictograph is any picture that represents a word or idea. Native Americans living in early America, before the settlers arrived, used pictographs as their writing system. A few Native Americans still use pictographs today. I pointed out to my students that we see these symbols every day on the teepee that is displayed in our entranceway and painted in our hallway wall murals.

Years ago, someone shared a hard copy of a symbols sheet. The thing is as old as the Mayflower and I have no idea where it originally came from... Anyway, I displayed it on the SMARTBoard for the students to see.

I don't have this document to share with you, unfortunately, but you can find lots of similar pages by searching the internet for Native American pictographs. Lakeshore also has a free printable here.

Next, I modeled what a picture story may look like and explained that not every word is represented, only big ideas. The students got to try their hand at creating a story using symbols too. I gave them a blank piece of paper for a rough draft.

Then, they were ready to rewrite their story on some bison hide. To make some hide, we cut open a lunch bag.You all know how I love my lunch bag projects! Yep~ here's another one!

We removed the bottom flap of the bag first and set that scrap aside. Then, the students cut out the strip where we see the seam to use the best part of the bag. I asked the class to cut the opened bag into a muddy lake shape. That's the best I can do to describe it!

The students copied the story in pencil first, then traced over the pencil lines with marker (our berry ink).

Each child shared their story with a partner or two. 
They loved that part!

 The best part was yet to come!

 Crumpling the bag for a minute or two until it becomes soft makes the bag resemble a hide. We smashed it into a ball and opened it up several times to get the right effect.

Our November festivities ended with another tradition I have kept going for many years... making Native American corn soup with the kiddos. We also churned our own butter and served it up on top of my mom's cornbread muffins! She bakes them for us every year and always loves helping out at our mini feast! 

She even made an extra batch for me to take home! Mom's the best!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and enjoy your time off!

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