/educators/lessons/grade-6-8/Moccasins_Are_Made_for_Dancing

Moccasins Are Made for Dancing

What role does dance play in the telling of Native American legends and stories?

Overview

Key Staff

Language Arts, Social Studies or ELL teacher with opportunities to collaborate with performing arts teachers

Key Skills

Global Connections: Connecting to History and Culture
Making Art: Composing and Planning
Life and Career Skills: Social and Cross-Cultural Skills

Summary

Students will read either of Tomie DePaola’s versions of two Native American legends: The Legend of the Bluebonnet or The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush. After learning basic dance movements, they will create a dance for the legend they read. They will also write about the dance for this legend.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Read either DePaola’s version of The Legend of the Bluebonnet or The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush
  • Practice basic dance steps
  • Create a dance for either of the DePaola legends
  • Write a version of the DePaola legend describing this dance
  • Demonstrate their dance for the class

Teaching Approach

Arts Integration

Teaching Methods

  • Cooperative Learning
  • Discussion
  • Hands-On Learning

Assessment Type

Performance Assessment

Preparation

Lesson Setup

Teacher Background

  • Teachers should be familiar with Tomie DePaola’s version of The Legend of the Bluebonnet and The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush.
  • Teachers should be familiar with the ways in which Native Americans use dance to relate tales and legends.

Prior Student Knowledge

  • Students should be familiar with the ways in which cultures (specifically Native Americans) use dance to relate stories.
  • Students should understand the role of myths, legends and folklore in cultures past and present.

Physical Space

Classroom

Grouping

  • Large Group Instruction
  • Small Group Instruction

Staging

  • Procure books
  • Make necessary photocopies

Instruction

Resources in Reach

Here are the resources you'll need for each activity, in order of instruction.

Engage
Build Knowledge
Apply
Reflect
Assess

Engage

1. You may choose to set the mood by playing some Native American music if you have any.

2. Before starting the lesson, instruct the students to make classroom charts using the Ideas or Concepts handout located within the Resource Carousel.

3. Show students a pair of moccasins and discuss them. Ask students if they know the origin of these shoes. Note that many slippers we wear today are moccasins or like moccasins, not like the hard, leather, heeled shoes most people wear.

4. Read aloud or have students read a Native American legend that contains a dance. Dancing Drum, A Cherokee Legend written and adapted by Terri Cohlene is a good choice. Other selections to read include the dance in Hiawatha’s Wedding in The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

5. Talk about the dances in these selections. Explain and discuss the fact that Native American dance were religious or ceremonial, unlike the social dancing of today.

Build Knowledge

1. Have students read two Tomie DePaola books. Divide the class. One half of the students will read Tomie DePaola’s version of The Legend of the Bluebonnet and the other half will read Tomie DePaola’s version of The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush. Distribute the DePaola books and the 'Tomie DePaola Legends Reading' handout located within the Resource Carousel.

2. Explain to students that they are going to read the book and answer the questions on the Tomie DePaola Legends Reading handout. Students should provide complete explanations rather than one or two word answers. Students may refer to the story/book as they compile their answers.

3. Display the three charts based on the Ideas or Concepts handout and begin to discuss and introduce the fundamentals of Native American dances. Tell the students that Native Americans used a variety of movements. These movements varied among the tribes, who created dances from them. They based their movements on what they wanted to express.

4. Refer to the locomotor movement chart. Teach or review some basic locomotor movements. With each of the following movements, go over the definition from the chart, demonstrate the movement, have the students execute the movement with a rhythmic beat of the drum, and do it in various directions (forward, backward, sidewise, diagonally.) These movements can be done in scattered positions, moving around the room, or lines moving across in one direction; but they are to be done individually.

5. Explain to the students that the locomotor movements can serve as a basis for creating movements that use other parts of the body. Review the levels of the body, referring to the chart.

Apply

1. Next, present the chart with the list of ideas and concepts from the two books of legends.

2. Demonstrate and then have the students do the movements associated with each concept/idea. Then, add a rhythmic beat of the drum while the students demonstrate these movements on their own, and then as a group.

Legend of the Bluebonnet

  • The rain: arms reaching up and coming down in a wavelike movement to the floor; running a few steps, reaching up and having the arms come down as though it is raining in various places.
  • The jay bird: with arms extended, run in curved pathways around the room, at times swooping down and changing levels and then lifting up again, changing the pace or speed of the run.
  • Scattering the ashes: walking or running with arms initially close to the body then stretching out or reaching to the sides as though scattering; this is done to the four sides or walls in the room.
  • Fire: jumping in place with arms thrusting up and out as though fire sparks are shooting out. The arms are thrust at different levels-low, medium, high; and in different directions - forward, back, side, up. This also can be done with a hopping movement.
  • Deer spirit: running a few steps and then leaping; facing a different direction, repeat the movement and then keep repeating, facing different directions each time.

Legend of the Indian Paintbrush

  • Flower-growing: starting at a low level, students slowly rise, their arms extending up or out, depending on the shape of their imagined flower.
  • Sunset: the body begins extended, with the arms raised out , run quickly to the opposite side of the room, gradually having the arms and body come down to a low level. Repeat a few times traveling in different directions and speeds.
  • Running and shooting: running a variety of distances, stopping at different levels and shooting, running while shooting.
  • Sky growing dark: move slowly around the room as the arms gradually extend out as though hovering above the earth moving around throughout the room as though covering the entire space.

3. Divide the students into groups of four or five. Hand out the Dance Assessment Rubric located within the Resource Carousel. Read through it, making sure the students understand it. Note that they will need to use what they just learned about Native American dances for this part of the lesson.

4. Discuss and review with the students what they have learned about Native American dances. Remind them that dance is structured with a beginning, a middle, and an end. The questions for the following discussion of dance structure may be put on the board to aid the discussion. Tell the students that the beginning answers these questions:

  • How does the dance start?
  • What position (shape) are your bodies in and why?
  • Where are you in relation to one another? (In a line, a circle, a diagonal, scattered, some front, some back.)

5. Remind the students that the middle is the major and the largest part of the dance. Tell them that it is here that they share what they want to say through the use of their bodies. This section answers these questions:

  • What are the movements?
  • How many times do you do or repeat the movements?
  • Does everyone move at the same time?
  • Does everyone move in the same way?
  • Do your facial expressions change when you are doing the movements? Where are you looking (focusing?)
  • What part of the story are you identifying to be in your dance?

6. The ending answers the questions:

  • How are you going to bring the dance to the class?
  • What is the last thing you do?
  • What position are you in, and where are you in relation to each other?

7. Remind the students that these three parts are clear and evident in their dances.

Reflect

1. Have students reread the DePaola legends. Emphasize that each legend contains a dance that is not fully described.

2. Tell the students that their job is to create a dance that belongs in the story. Remind them that they know a lot about this kind of dance and that they learned how to perform several steps in a previous lesson. They are to write a description of their dance. Distribute the Dance Guide Questions handout located within the Resource Carousel.

3. Remind students that the beginning answers these questions:

  • How does the dance start?
  • What position (shape) are your bodies in and why?
  • Where are you in relation to one another? (In a line, a circle, a diagonal, scattered, some front, some back.)

The middle should answer these questions:

  • What are the movements?
  • How many times do you do or repeat the movements?
  • Does everyone move at the same time?
  • Does everyone move in the same way?
  • Do your facial expressions change when you are doing the movements? Where are you looking (focusing?)
  • What part of the story are you identifying to be in your dance?

And the ending should answer these questions:

  • How are you going to bring the dance to the class?
  • What is the last thing you do?
  • What position are you in, and where are you in relation to each other?

4. Allow students time to practice their dance before performing it for the class.

Assess

Use the Tomie DePaola Legends Dance Assessment Rubric and the Self and Teacher Dance Assessment Rubric to assess your students' works, both of which are available within the Resource Carousel.

Extending the Learning

Instruct the students to research Native American instruments. They will make a drum and a rattle and learn to play the instruments.

Standards

The Common Core State Standards Initiative seeks to bring diverse state curricula into alignment through a set of common learning goals and assessments. In 2010, Standards were released for English language arts and mathematics. Common standards have not yet been released for science, social studies, and other subject areas, including the arts. In addition, some states have yet to, or have chosen not to, adopt the Common Core standards.

During this transitional period, ArtsEdge will present all relevant state and nationals standards as they apply to our lessons.

National Standards for Arts Education

For the full text of the content and achievement standards in Arts Education, visit our Standards section.

ArtsEdge Lessons connect to the National Standards for Arts Education, the Common Core Standards, and a range of other subject area standards.

Common Core/State Standards

Select state and grade(s) below, then click "Find" to display Common Core and state standards.

National Standards For Arts Education
Dance

Grade 5-8 Dance Standard 1: Identifying and demonstrating movement elements and skills in performing dance

Grade 5-8 Dance Standard 2: Understanding choreographic principles, processes, and structures

National Standards in Other Subjects
Historical Understanding

Historical Understanding Standard 1: Understands and knows how to analyze chronological relationships and patterns

Historical Understanding Standard 2: Understands the historical perspective

Language Arts

Language Arts Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process

Language Arts Standard 2: Uses the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing

Language Arts Standard 3: Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions

Language Arts Standard 5: Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process

Credits

Writers

Daniella Garran
Original Writer

Lillian Hasko
Original Writer

Phyllis Gron
Original Writer

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