October 30, 2012

Native American Inspired MASKS

As you might remember, I am really into being "green." I co-lead an after school Green Team and try to live a healthy and balanced life style (I like an organic salad with a chocolate chip cookie!)

To deepen my work I look to the original Green Team, Native Americans. We have moved so far away from the earth with our industrialized society, that the only animals most have seen in life are in captivity, domesticated or "city" wildlife like raccoons, skunks and other animals able to adapt to our destruction of their environment. We all know that Native Americans lived with a deeper respect for the earth and living things because they were part of the natural world, not superior to it.

For November I will be focusing solely on Native American studies (with the upper grades) and using our findings to make connections with ourselves, our earth and each other. Does this all sound a little complicated? This month I hope to share with you accessible lessons to help deepen these connections in your classroom.

Here is my first project piloted in October. MASK MAKING!

Front CoverNative Americans had a respect for the animals they shared the environment with. Animals were said to hold special meanings and if you listened and observed you could find out what messages these animals have for you. May I recommend an amazing book called Animal-Speak by Ted Andrews. Part of our curriculum is to talk about symbolism and this is the perfect introduction to animal symbols in Native American culture.

In my class we used students animal symbol to create MASKS! We made these masks out of recycled materials. To be specific recycled food packaging. Why food packaging? In Native American culture it was considered disrespectful to waste any part of the animal. Some was used to eat, but the rest was used for clothing, material and other uses. I invited the students to think about the parts of food that we often waste. Food packaging is a huge waste in our society that we hardly ever consider.
So we used cereal boxes, bottle caps, garbage bags, plastic bags etc. to create their masks.

Check out their results. Next post I will give you some tips on how to use masks for performance! Our performances in our masks were the best part of the experience.


Elizabeth said...

Excellent masks - love the last photo displaying them on the kids! I'll be interested to read your performance tips :)Elizabeth

Phyl said...

Erica, what an impressive post - not just the images, but the entire philosophical statement, right down to the rationale for the materials. You may not post often these days, but when you do, WOW. Is that what you. Do when you have unexpected days off school?

Hey, I'm teaching a workshop at my state conference on great ideas using recycled materials. Can I share your post / lesson concept? I I would give you credit, and it would only be a brief mention among everything else I already have planned. What do you say?

Unknown said...

Great post, Erica! Thanks for giving my "eco-conscience" a nudge! Can't wait to see therest of the projects in the unit!


Unknown said...

What an honor Phyl! I also have an academic paper backing up some of this work. Thank you all for appreciating this!