ARTSEDGE Lessons for Elementary School

Navajo Weaving

How does the Navajo culture represent itself through visual and performing arts?


Key Staff

Classroom Teacher

Key Skills

Developing Arts Literacies: Analyzing and Evaluating - Critique
Global Connections: Connecting to History and Culture, Connecting with Other Arts
Creative Thinking: Creativity and Innovation, Communication and Collaboration


Through teacher-guided reading and discussion of Ten Little Rabbits, dance and hands-on activities students will explore various aspects of Native American cultures and Navajo weavings. Using the patterns on the Navajo Rugs, they will devise dance patterns. Students will also create and perform a traveling pattern based on Navajo weavings.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Become aware of how dance can be integrated with other art forms and academics.
  • Become familiar with Native Americans and various aspects of Native American weaving. (Emphasis will be placed on Navajo loom weaving.)
  • Broaden their ability to create dances through the abstraction of ideas and sources.
  • Construct models for procedural knowledge through question and answer sessions and by demonstrating and providing practice for dance warm up and class activity or lesson.
  • Create a bridge between Native American cultures and their own lifestyles.
  • Create dance experiences that integrate the academics and other art forms.
  • Develop positive attitudes and perceptions about learning.
  • Develop their creative thinking skills as well as technical and performance abilities.
  • Enhance their knowledge and understanding of Native American people, specifically under the topic of Navajo weavings.
  • Explore various ways of relating the pattern in the weaving to movement.
  • Extend and refine knowledge through higher level thinking skills.
  • Learn the history of Native Americans and weaving.
  • Observe patterns and color arrangements in various weavings.
  • Organize declarative knowledge using graphs, charts, and note-taking strategies.
  • Demonstrate their knowledge of the pattern in a weaving by performing dance studies specifically related to the weaving.
  • Integrate dance with the academics and with other art forms.
  • Clarify their personal views of themselves in relationship to the lives of those from another culture.
  • Utilize other art forms and academics while learning the art of dance.

Teaching Approach

Arts Integration

Teaching Methods

  • Discussion
  • Hands-On Learning
  • Reflection

Assessment Type

Performance Assessment


What You'll Need

Lesson Setup

Teacher Background

Teachers should have a working knowledge of Navajo culture, history and arts.

Prior Student Knowledge

Students should be familiar with the ways in which cultures represent themselves artistically.

Physical Space



Procure necessary materials, including Navajo blankets. Make necessary photocopies. Create a blanket pattern on a posterboard or chart paper (optional)

Accessibility Notes

Students with physical disabilities may need modified movements.


Resources in Reach

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

Build Knowledge


1. Read the book Ten Little Rabbits to the students.

2. Discuss the book with the students when done. Ask students to map out the story; recounting the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

3. Write "beginning," middle" and "end" on separate sheets of chart paper and have the students list matching story elements under each. This assures that everyone understands the story and is ready to proceed with the lesson.

Build Knowledge

1. Discuss the many facets of Native American culture depicted in the text. Break the students into groups and ask them to take a copy of The Ten Little Rabbits and identify different aspects of Native American culture. Show pictures of the Navajo blankets displayed throughout the book and discuss in more detail the colors and patterns.

2. Choose a simple pattern from the book. Draw it on the board (or have it prepared in advance on a large poster board). See this Example of Blanket #6 from Ten Little Rabbits located under 'Resources in Reach'.

3. Discuss the pattern as a class, asking questions such as the following:

  • Do the colors repeat themselves?
  • Can you find a pattern in the way the colors repeat themselves?
  • Where does the pattern begin and end?
  • How many times is the pattern repeated?
  • What is the last color?
  • What happens at the end of the weaving?
  • Count the stripes.
  • How many colored stripes are there?
  • How many repeating patterns are there?

4. While seated, have the students perform the movements listed on the right of the weaving that go with the color stripe. Practice several times.

5. While standing, have groups of students perform the movement pattern in place. Practice several times.

6. Have groups of students walk in space (travel) while performing the movement pattern. Practice several times.


1. Tell students that their performance task is to create as a class a new movement pattern that relates to the pattern of weaving. See the example of a Traveling Pattern located under 'Resources in Reach'.

2. Students should be placed in small groups to work together and should then be asked to demonstrate what they have created. The teacher should point to the pattern sheet to see if they are repeating in the order they should. The students should present their pattern to the class before they begin so everyone can follow along.

3. Once each group has demonstrated the pattern, all patterns will be performed together one after another to create the complete dance. You may wish to create a four-part pattern that can be interspersed in the dance.


1. Lead a class discussion about the following topics:

  • What role do the arts play in society? Consider dance, music, visual arts, and literature.
  • What do the arts tell us about other cultures?
  • What do the arts tell us about the past?

2. Ask students to select the art which they think best represents them: dance, music, visual arts, or literature.

3. Have students create a dance, song, poem or drawing that describes who they are.


Throughout the nation, standards of learning are being revised, published and adopted. During this time of transition, ARTSEDGE will continually add connections to the Common Core, Next Generation Science standards and other standards to our existing lessons, in addition to the previous versions of the National Standards across the subject areas.

The Arts Standards used in ARTSEDGE Lessons are the 1994 voluntary national arts standards. The Arts learning standards were revised in 2014; please visit the National Core Arts Standards (http://nationalartsstandards.org) for more. The Kennedy Center is working on developing new lessons to connect to these standards, while maintaining the existing lesson library aligned to the Common Core, other state standards, and the 1994 National Standards for Arts Education.

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

Grade K-4 Dance Standard 1: Identifying and demonstrating movement elements and skills in performing dance

Grade K-4 Dance Standard 2: Understanding choreographic principles, processes, and structures

Grade K-4 Dance Standard 3: Understanding dance as a way to create and communicate meaning

Grade K-4 Dance Standard 5: Demonstrating and understanding dance in various cultures and historical periods

Visual Arts

Grade K-4 Visual Arts Standard 3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas

Grade K-4 Visual Arts Standard 4: Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures

National Standards in Other Subjects
Language Arts

Language Arts Standard 4: Gathers and uses information for research purposes

Language Arts Standard 6: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary texts

Language Arts Standard 7: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts

Language Arts Standard 9: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media

Grades K-4 History

Grades K-4 History Standard 1: Understands family life now and in the past, and family life in various places long ago

Grades K-4 History Standard 2: Understands the history of a local community and how communities in North America varied long ago



Daniella Garran
Original Writer

Carol Tester
Original Writer

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Use this collection of resources and articles to devise an approach for supporting individual needs in the classroom: from English Language Learners or students with disabilities, to conflict resolution and giving feedback.



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