I wanted to do some kind of theme for the summer to guide our learning and crafting activities. I chose Native Americans for several reasons. First, my kids have this heritage on both sides of our family, mostly on my husband’s side. Second, I love learning about other cultures and I hope to pass this interest on to my kids. Third, I admire the Native American respect for the earth and I want my kids to grow up cherishing the outdoors and living “green” whether it’s trendy or not.
I did some looking around on Pinterest and found 10 crafts and activities for us to do this summer. Not all of them are Native American themed, but most are. We’ll do one each week. None of them are very expensive and most of them use stuff you may already have around the house. I’ve compiled a list with the pictures I found on Pinterest and links to the websites.
1. Making a cup out of clay- Okay, I don’t have a picture for this one. I’m going to get some modeling clay and teach Elle how to make a cup. It’s pretty simple, even for a four year old. I’ll post pictures after we’ve done it so you can see how. Coming soon!
2. Cardboard weaving loom- This is from Natural Suburbia Blog. I thought it was fabulous.
3. God’s Eye with popsicle sticks- This is from www.craftsbyamanda.com and she gives a good explanation of the history of the God’s Eye on her website. All you need is yarn and popsicle sticks. It’s a great excuse to buy those Edy’s all fruit bars.
4. Leaf Rubbings- These aren’t really Native American, but they’re super cool. I want the kids to be able to identify different trees. Too many kids know every level of their favorite video game but can’t identify one single tree growing in their neighborhood. We have a couple field guides we got cheap on Amazon and I want to do the leaf rubbings and then identify the trees using our field guides. It’s crafty and scientific all at once. This was originally from www.chicacircle.com
5. Rain Sticks- This is so much easier than you would think. All you need is paper towel tubes, aluminum foil, dried beans and whatever craft supplies you would like to decorate the outside. The full instructions can be found here.
6. Milk Jug Totem Pole- I couldn’t believe how cool this was. We will probably make a little one, because we don’t buy the kind of milk that comes in gallon plastic jugs and we’ll have to ask a neighbor for theirs. But seriously, how cool is this craft??? For full instructions, click here.
7. Salt Dough ornaments- These also are not really Native American, but I’ve wanted to do them for a long time. This recipe is slightly different from salt dough and makes bright white ornaments. I think they look very Scandinavian so naturally I adore them. I was thinking of making flowers or something else that would look summery. They’re from www.woodsidekitchen.blogspot.com
8. Teepee with old sheet- I don’t have a website for this one because, lo and behold, I thought of it myself. I plan to use an old bedsheet and some broom handles to make a teepee. If I’m feeling very ambitious, I might even buy fabric paint and let the kids decorate the sheet before we make the teepee. I’ll post pictures after we do this one!
9. Native American dress for American Girl doll- I bought Elle a knock-off American Girl doll on sale for about $13. I want to buy brown microsuede fabric and sew her a little dress. I don’t have a sewing machine but I can do a simple stitch. I will probably have to do most of this one but at least Elle will get a little taste of sewing. I found a blog that talks about using the Native American Girl doll named Kaya to teach kids about Native American culture. Here’s the link: http://creeksidelearning.com/2013/01/03/early-native-american-history-unit-with-american-girl-kaya/
10. Explorer Bags- I absolutely LOVE this idea from Families Outdoors Blog. You simply take a backpack and fill it with things you’ll need to go exploring. From field guides to binoculars, you can pack whatever you think would get your kids even more excited about taking a hike and being outside. It really appeals to my inner Indiana Jones. Here’s the link: http://familiesoutdoors.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/explorer-backpacks/#comment-4
So that’s the plan for my kids this summer. I’ll post pictures as we do the activities. Most importantly though, even more than cute crafts, is spending time with my kids. It’s the simple things, like time together, that mean more than the all the cute crafts in the Pinterest universe.