When learning about how Native Americans lived, it’s better when that learning is hands-on.
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That’s why the kindergartners at Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen spent time in the school’s STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art and math — lab to create tepees out of construction paper and sticks.
The youngsters focused on creating the tepees, working in pairs to figure out the logistics of their creations. STEAM lab teacher Megan Arnold and kindergarten teacher Mikela Schwinn walked around the room, answering questions and helping as needed.
The kindergartners said they had fun creating the projects, experimenting with what would work best. Leighton Peters and Audrey Searle, for example, added a person resting outside the tepee and a stick at the top of the tepee to let the smoke out and for a flag.
Each tepee was on a cardboard base so it could be moved easily.
The kindergartners learned about tribes on the plains and on the West Coast of the United States. Schwinn reviewed what the class learned before the tepee exercise.
The plains Native Americans wore moccasins and followed the buffalo, which provided food and clothing. Tribes used buffalo hooves to make glue, horns to make spoons and dung to make fire. Tepees are like tents because they are easily movable, the kindergartners said.
Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest eat a lot of salmon, lived in plank houses and make totem poles, they added.
The STEAM lab is new at RMAE this year, a space specifically for students to create as part of the school’s CORE curriculum, according to Schwinn.
Some classes visit the STEAM room weekly while other classes visit at the end of learning units to create hands-on projects. Arnold is collecting project ideas that can be used with a variety of education units, hoping to help teachers use many hands-on activities.
“We’re taking projects to the next level,” Arnold said. “Students can do a worksheet and talk about it, or they can come to the lab where it takes learning to the next level. For me, it’s been really fun to collaborate with other teachers.”
For Schwinn, bringing kindergartners to the STEAM lab to create projects is both fun and educational.
“It’s amazing that we now have this space,” she said. “I love this room.”
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