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Indian Legends

Unit by: Carole Hughey hugheyc@k12tn.net

Unit Title: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and The Legend of the Bluebonnet
Grade Levels : 2-3
Unit Theme: Writing Across the Curriculum
Subject Areas: Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Technology

Rationale:

Developing an understanding of and respect for other cultures and ways of life is an essential part of the educational process. Through the study of other cultures, children learn to accept and appreciate differences in others. As students grow in their understanding of others, they also come to recognize and value their own culture. Through the study of two beautiful Indian legends by author Tomie DePaola, students will develop language arts skills, writing skills, and will be introduced to the culture of Native American Indians.

Unit Overview:

During this unit, students will work in small groups, pairs, independently, and in whole group situations to read, research, and write about Native Americans. Activities will be based on two books, The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and the Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola. Students will be led through activities which use a variety of materials, including the Internet. Ultimately students will write their own legend.
The unit has been designed to cover 2-3 weeks. After the Introductory Lesson, the lessons do not necessarily have to be taught in the order in which they are presented.

Unit Lessons:

Lesson 1: Introduction to The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush

Lesson 2: Story Mapping

Lesson 3: The Author, the Artist, and the Artwork

Lesson 4: Characterization and Critical Thinking

Lesson 5: Introduction to The Legend of the Bluebonnet

Lesson 6: Comparing Cultures

Lesson 7: The Plains Indians

Lesson 8: Indian Homes

Lesson 9: Picture Writing

Lesson 10: Two Important Animals of the Plains

Lesson 11: Wildflowers

Culminating Activity: Create Your Own Legend

Lesson 1: Introduction to The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush

Unit Title: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and The Legend of the Bluebonnet

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Grade Level: 2-3

Standards:

  1. The student will know the meaning of a legend.
  2. The student will answer comprehension questions after listening to an oral selection.
  3. The student will participate in a discussion by making relevant contributions and responses.

Materials:

Book: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola
Website:
http://www.desertusa.com/june96/du_paint.html

Tasks:

Show the children an ordinary paintbrush. Ask them to verbally describe it and explain what can be done with it. Tell the children that today they are going to read a story about another kind of paintbrush which is very different. They will read about a beautiful flower called the Indian Paintbrush, and they will learn how it got its name.

Direct the students' attention to the monitor on which is displayed the above website. This is a large picture of the Indian Paintbrush plant. Discuss characteristics of the flower. Ask them to compare the real paintbrush and the flower.

Have students recall the meaning of a legend. Show the book The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush. Tell them that this story is a legend which explains how the flower got its name. Point out that the book is written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola and that they will be learning more about him in the next few days.

Read the story to the class sharing and discussing some of the artwork as the story is read. After reading, ask the following comprehension questions:

  1. What was Little Gopher's problem?
  2. What was Little Gopher's special gift?
  3. What did the Wise Shaman promise Little Gopher?
  4. What did Little Gopher see in the Dream Vision?
  5. How did Little Gopher prepare to paint?
  6. Why did Little Gopher not paint on the white buckskin?
  7. Where did Little Gopher find the colors that he needed?
  8. What did the people find on the hill the next day?
  9. What was Little Gopher's new name? Why?
  10. How was Little Gopher "true to his gift"?

Go back to the picture of the Indian paintbrush on the monitor. Ask the children to look at it again and see if they can find the colors of the sunset. Have them discuss the plant again now that they have read the legend.

Give each child a sheet of drawing paper. Have them draw the Indian paintbrush on one side. On the other side, have them finish the statement...Indian paintbrush is a good name for this plant because...... Claris for Kids has a page set up in the Writing Folder for this. Use if available.

Evaluation:

The teacher will observe and evaluate oral responses to comprehension questions.
The teacher will evaluate written responses.

Lesson 2: Story Mapping

Unit Title: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and The Legend of the Bluebonnet

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Grade Level: 2-3

Standards:

  1. The student will use story mapping to enhance comprehension of the story.
  2. The student will write a paragraph to summarize the story.

Materials:

Book: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola
Graphic organizer for story mapping
Large class chart of same graphic organizer
Software such as ClarisWorks, Claris for Kids, or The Writing Center, Inspiration

Tasks:

Using a graphic organizer, or software such as Inspiration, have them work in pairs to complete the organizer as a review of the story. Using the class organizer, ask children to share responses from their work. Record these on the chart to make a class story map. Leave this displayed in the room throughout the unit. Remind the children that when we summarize, we tell retell the story in short form giving the main ideas only. Illustrate this for them by summarizing a familiar fairy tale. Using the story map as a guide, have the children write a paragraph summarizing the story The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush.

Evaluation:

The teacher will observe students' work on story maps and students' input to class story map.
The teacher will evaluate written summary paragraphs.

Lesson 3: The Author, the Artist, and the Artwork

Unit Title: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and The Legend of the Bluebonnet

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Grade Level: 2-3

Standards:

  1. The student will use technology to acquire specific information about the author, Tomie dePaola.
  2. The student will participate in a discussion of the artwork of Tomie dePaola.
  3. The student will compose and submit questions to the author on the internet.
  4. The student will create an original artwork.

Materials:

Big Book: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush (if available)
Additional books by the author
18 x24 sheet of white construction paper
Tempera paints or watercolors (red, orange, yellow, pink, purple, blue)
Large paintbrushes
Website:
Tomie dePaola Biography

Tasks:

Show children the Big Book version of The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush. Discuss the art work on the cover. Observe that Tomie dePaola is both the author and the illustrator. Tell the children that they can learn more about the author and his work on the internet. Go to the above website. This is the homepage for the author. Look through the site with the class. Click on the link to the photos of dePaola and discuss.

One of the links in the site is called frequently asked questions. Read through these questions and answers. Let the children pose other questions that they would like to have answered about the author. List these questions on a chart. Tell the children that they will later have an opportunity to come to the computer and type in the questions to submit on the Web to the author. Go back to the Big Book. Look through the book with the children and discuss the artwork. Explain that Tomie de Paola often uses watercolor for his art work. Show several other books by the author and discuss the artwork.

Give each child construction paper, paintbrush, and watercolor or tempera paint. Tell them that they can create a beautiful sunset like the one drawn by Little Gopher. Have them use a wash technique, using a lot of water and a little paint. Work from top to bottom on the page letting the colors blend together for a sunset effect. When finished, cut the edges irregularly and outline with marker to create the look of buckskin. Display the children's work.

While students are working on their drawings, have three at at time come over to the computer. Go to the dePaola website and show them how to submit their questions and comments to the author.

Evaluation:

The teacher will evaluate by observing student responses during discussions.

Lesson 4: Characterization and Critical Thinking

Unit Title: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and The Legend of the Bluebonnet

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Grade Level: 2-3

Standards:

  1. The student will use the comprehension strategies of characterization and inference to respond to literature.
  2. The student will participate in small and large group discussions by making relevant contributions.
  3. The students will present orally original work.

Materials:

Book: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola
Software: Claris for Kids and KidPix, or HyperStudio

Tasks:

Brainstorm with the children qualities which made Little Gopher special. List these. Discuss Little Gopher's special talent. Lead them into a discussion of the fact that we are all special in some ways. Remind them Little Gopher's name was changed at the end of the story to reflect his special gift. Have the children work in pairs. Allow them to help each other identify their own special gifts and talents. Tell them to create a new name for themselves like Little Gopher's name. This might be based on a special talent or on something they like to do. Use KidPix, HyperStudio, or Claris for Kids to write and illustrate a short story which begins "My name is He-who....because...." and describes why this is a suitable name for the child. Compile the stories into a class slide show and share on the large monitor.

Evaluation:

The teacher will evaluate oral responses for understanding of inference and characterization.
The teacher will observe responses to questions for critical thinking.
The teacher will evaluate written paragraphs for content and expression of ideas.

Lesson 5: Introduction to The Legend of the Bluebonnet

Unit Title: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and The Legend of the Bluebonnet

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Grade Level: 2-3

Standards:

  1. The student will answer comprehension questions after listening to an oral selection.
  2. The student will participate in discussion by making relevant contributions and responses.

Materials:

Book: Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie de Paola
Website: http://www.desertusa.com/june96/du_paint.html

Tasks:

Review with the students the meaning of a legend. Tell them that the book you are going to read today is also by Tomie de Paola and is called the Legend of the Bluebonnet. Ask them to speculate what the bluebonnet is and how it might have acquired its name. Show the book and show the website on a large monitor. Explain that this is another wildflower which grows in the Great Plains. Tell them that the story you are about to read to them is about a Comanche Indian girl named She-Who-Is-Alone. Remind them that we have already talked about the way that Native Americans were given names that told about their special qualities or gifts. Let the children suggest possible reasons for her name. When students have finished reading the story, ask the following comprehension questions:

  1. For what were the Comanche people dancing and praying at the beginning of the story?
  2. How long did they dance and pray?
  3. How did She-Who-Is-Alone get her name?
  4. What had happened to her family? Who cared for her?
  5. Why was the warrior doll special to her?
  6. What did the Great Shaman say the People must do to bring an end to the famine?
  7. Why did the other tribe members say that Great Spirits did not intend for them to give up their belongings?
  8. What special qualities did the girl show by giving up her doll?
  9. What did she see on the hill the next morning?
  10. What was the little girl's new name? Why does this name suit her well?

Have students respond to the story in writing by asking them to write a paragraph describing the feelings that the little girl had when she threw her doll in the fire. Ask them to briefly describe their favorite possession. Have them reflect on whether or not they would have as much courage as the little girl. This may be done on a writing processor.

Evaluation:

The teacher will evaluate oral discussion responses.
The teacher will evaluate answers to the comprehension questions.
The teacher will evaluate creative content and mechanics of written paragraphs.

Lesson 6: Comparing Cultures

Unit Title: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and The Legend of the Bluebonnet

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Grade Level: 2-3

Standards:

  1. The student will learn the meaning of culture.
  2. The student will be able to identify ways in which Native American culture differs from our culture.

Materials:

Websites:
http://www.tolatsga.org/Compacts.html
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/expltx/eft/activities/culture.htm

Tasks:

Introduce to the students the word culture. Explain to them that culture refers to the way we live, the way we speak, the way we dress, etc. Have them share some information that they have about various cultures. Review the book again with the students. Have them point out things they see that are characteristic of the Native American culture. Go to the website http://www.tolatsga.org/Compacts.html
Go through the site together discussing some of the many tribes listed.

Have students go to the computer in pairs or small groups. Go to the website http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/expltx/eft/activities/culture.htm.
This is a student activity site which leads students through developing a culture. Students may answer the questions based on their own culture or create a totem pole to represent an imaginary culture using the questions as a guide.

Evaluation:

Lesson 7: The Plains Indians

Unit Title: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and The Legend of the Bluebonnet

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Grade Level: 2-3

Standards:

  1. The student will use technology to explore the culture of the Plains Indians.
  2. The student will demonstrate the ability to read for information.

Materials:

Website:
http://collections.ic.gc.ca/luxton/

Tasks:

This is an excellent site with wonderful color photos of all aspects of Plains Indians culture. Display the site on the large screen monitor. Click on one each of the four sections and briefly explore the site with the children.

Divide the class into groups. Assign each group to a section: History/Background, Hunter/Warrior, Spiritual Life, Daily Life. Have them click on the link to their section and read the material there. Be sure that they click on each picture and read the information that is linked to the picture. After reading, have the students click on questions at the bottom of the page and answer on paper the comprehension questions. This site also contains activities with each section which you may wish to use for extensions. When they have completed their search, have each group make a class Big Book to present the information they have gathered.

Evaluation:

The teacher will use the questions on the website to evaluate ability to read for information.
The teacher will observe students and they use technology to locate information.

Additional Activity:

Go to the site is called Who are "Texas Indians"? to find easily readable information, a map showing the path the Indians followed to America, and coloring pages which can be printed for students to use.

Lesson 8: Indian Homes

Unit Title: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and The Legend of the Bluebonnet

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Grade Level: 2-3

Standards:

  1. The students will demonstrate an understanding of homes as one way in which cultures vary.
  2. The students will demonstrate the ability to use the Internet as a source for information.

Materials:

Websites:

http://www.mce.k12tn.net/indians/reports4/plains.htm
http://www.shelterpub.com/_shelter/www_teepee.html
http://www.anthro.mankato.msus.edu/history/mncultures/dakota.html

Tasks:

Review the meaning of the word culture. Have students list some of the things that make up our culture. Remind them that our homes are part of our culture. Ask them to look at the pictures in the two books and describe the types of home in which the characters lived.

Have children work in groups to answer the following questions from the websites http://www.mce.k12tn.net/indians/reports4/plains.htm

http://www.shelterpub.com/_shelter/www_teepee.html

http://www.anthro.mankato.msus.edu/history/mncultures/dakota.html (Scroll down to the shelter section.)

  1. Name two types of homes in which Plains Indians lived.
  2. Who owned the teepees?
  3. Where did the Indians get poles for the teepees?
  4. For what does the circle stand? Why do you think the doors face east?
  5. What was in the center of the teepee?
  6. How was clothing stored in the teepee?
  7. How many buffalo hides were needed to make a teepee?
  8. How were the teepees moved about?

Evaluation:

The teacher will observe students as they use the Internet for research.
The teacher will evaluate the completed web quest questions.

Lesson 9: Picture Writing

Unit Title: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and The Legend of the Bluebonnet

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Grade Level: 2-3

Standards:

The student will be able to demonstrate an understanding of how picture writing was used in Native American culture.

Materials:

Website:
http://collections.ic.gc.ca/luxton/sect_3/3c.htm

http://collections.ic.gc.ca/luxton/sect_3/3c9n.htm
Brown paper bag, paper towel, or butcher paper
Crayons, markers

Tasks:

Go to the above website and look at the picture writing on the teepees. Look at the illustrations of Little Gopher's picture writing in the book. Explain that the Native American children had no alphabet, and, therefore, had no way of recording stories other that with pictures. Help them see how Native American storytellers used picture writing to illustrate their stories. Show them how these pictures appear on their blankets, on rocks, on teepees, etc. Discuss the use of buffalo hide instead of paper. Be certain that they understand that all of the pictures have meaning. Look at the different symbols and discuss their meaning.

Give each student a brown paper bag, square of brown butcher paper, or brown paper towel. Have them crumple it and then smooth it out. Have the children work in pairs to make up a short story. With crayon or markers, draw picture on the paper to tell the story. Have them share their stories. Mount the stories and display them.

Evaluation:

The teacher will observe responses during discussions.
The teacher will evaluate picture writing stories as they are shared.

Additional Activities:

Have the students use the stamps in KidPix and create their own picture writing story. Let them read one another's story and try to decode.

Rather than use the crumpled paper for art, you may wish to bring in smooth flat stones and have the students use tempera paint to paint stories on the stones.

Lesson 10: Two Important Animals of the Plains

Unit Title: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and The Legend of the Bluebonnet

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Grade Level: 2-3

Standards:

  1. The student will use technology to find information.
  2. The student will obtain information about the role of the buffalo and the horse in Plains Indian Life.

Materials:

Websites:
Texas Indians
Indian Uses of the Buffalo

Tasks:

Remind the children that the Plains Indian followed the buffalo because he was so important to their daily life. Ask the students to think of things for which the buffalo was used. List these things on the board. Tell students that there are many more things for which the buffalo was used, but that the buffalo was not the only animal that was important to the Indians. Discuss the horse and its importance. Send the students to the computer with this assignment:

  1. Go to the website Indian Uses of the Buffalo.
  2. List two uses of the buffalo from each category.
  3. Choose uses that were not included in our list on the board.
  4. When you return to your seat, you will write a short paragraph telling me the new uses you discovered. Be sure to use each word which you choose from the list in your paragraph.

Go to the website Texas Indians. Read the information and answer the following questions.

  1. Where did the Indians get the first horses?
  2. Who taught the Indians to train and ride horses?
  3. Which tribe was the first to learn about horses?
  4. How did horses change the life of the Plains Indians?
  5. What did the Indians call the horses?
  6. What is a travois?

Evaluation:

The teacher will evaluate the paragraphs turned in by the students.
The teacher will evaluate the answered questions from the website.

Additional Activities:

Visit http://www.indians.org/welker/legend.htm and enjoy many of the legends on this site including "How the Buffalo were Released on Earth" and "Origin of the Buffalo".

Read together Paul Goble's book The Gift of the Sacred Dog.

Lesson 11: Wildflowers

Unit Title: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and The Legend of the Bluebonnet

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Grade Level: 2-3

Standards:

  1. The student will be able to use technology for research.
  2. The student will be able to read for information.
  3. The student will gather information about a variety of wildflowers.

Materials:

Websites:
Common Wildflowers
Texas Wildflowers
Wildflowers

Tasks:

Introduce the lesson with Wildflowers on the large monitor, share the site with the class clicking on the Texas Bluebonnet and the Texas Indian Paintbrush. Tell the children that there are hundreds of other wildflowers and that many of them have interesting names and legends about how they came to have these names. Click on a few other wildflowers and discuss their names.

Using the large screen monitor, go to Texas Wildflowers. Children will enjoy looking at this wildflower site created by a first grade class. Click on a few of their projects. Allow children to explore the rest of the site on their own later.

Have children work in pairs at the computer. Go to Common Wildflowers. Have children click on the pictures or names of the wildflowers on this site. Have them select one of the plants and complete the following sentences:

  1. My favorite wildflower on this page was the ________________
  2. I chose this wildflower because _________________________.
  3. My wildflower needs these special things to grow ________________________________.
  4. Another interesting thing about my wildflower is ______________________________.

Have them transfer this to KidPix or Claris for Kids and illustrate. Print and display in the classroom.

Evaluation:

The teacher will observe the students as they use technology to research.
The teacher will use the completed sentences for evaluation of information gathered.

Additional Activity:

Have students order wildflower seeds from the web. Let them plant and care for their seeds using the information they obtained on the website above.

Culminating Activity: Create Your Own Legend

Unit Title: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and The Legend of the Bluebonnet

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Grade Level: 2-3

Standards:

  1. The student will create an original legend.
  2. The student will use technology to share their completed legends.

Materials:

Websites:
Wildflowers
Kids' Pages - Native American Seed

Tasks:

Open the site Wildflowers and discuss with children the wide variety of names for wildflowers. Tell them that they are going to select one of the wildflowers and think about how it might have gotten its name. They are to write their own legend and illustrate. Show the student-created legend number 10 located in the left frame from Plants of the Prairie Project to provide inspiration. There is also an example of a student-created legend at Kids' Pages - Native American Seed.

Have them use a writing processor to write the final copy of their legend. You may wish scan in from a book or copy and paste from the website a photo of their wildflower. Legends will be shared by posting on the school website, or submitting to a children's authoring site on the web. Kids' Pages - Native American Seed is the site which has space for posting student's work.

Evaluation:

The teacher will evaluate the completed original legends of the students.

Additional Resources:

http://riceinfo.rice.edu/armadillo/Wildflowers/
http://www.carolhurst.com/subjects/nativeamericans.html