The Butterflies have spent most of November learning about the Lenape (pronounced leh-NAH-pay), a Native American tribe that used to live in this area. We talked about what they lived in, what they ate, how they got their food, how the labor was divided, how they traveled, and about their everyday life in general.
Andrea brought us corn to shuck because corn was very important to the Lenape. Shucking corn was one of the activities we did to build muscle strength in the hands – very important for handwriting. We then used a balance scale to weigh the corn.
The children also worked with real clay to strengthen their fingers, but we made our clay cooking pots out of play dough that we painted to look like clay. We put corn and bean, two Lenape crops, in the pots to cook.
Another Lenape artifact the children made was medicine beads. The medicine men used different patterns of beads to cure different ailments. The pattern we made was to “take away tears.” The project involved counting out the correct number of each color of bead and then stringing them in a pattern. It was a little more difficult than most projects we do. It took concentrated effort for a longer time than is usually expected and it was not easy to guide the hemp string through the small holes in the beads. It was great fine motor practice.
We also did patterning on the headdresses we made to go with our Lenape shirts. On the shirts we painted some Native American symbols. The children learned that the Lenape didn’t use letters to write like we did. They used symbols instead. You may have noticed our symbol stories hanging in the hallway. Each child chose several symbols to tell a story.
Sharon lent us the materials to make our wigwam and Andrea constructed it for us. They children enjoyed taking turns going in there to pretend to be Lenape. They sat on the “deerskin” rug and cooked over the fire.
We learned to play two Lenape games. We collected sticks to play Jackstraws, which is very similar to pickup sticks. And outside we played Pahsahn, a Lenape game similar to football or soccer. We played the boys against the girls just like the Lenape did.
We will finish our Lenape unit by writing a class book about what we learned. As soon as the book is finished each child will get a turn to take it home to share with his or her family. Ask your children to tell you all about the Lenape. They learned a lot!