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Third graders at Wasatch tell stories with pictures, just as Native American tribes did with drawings on caves and raw cowhide.

Mrs. Michie, the art instructor, uses this project to integrate one of the aspects of the social studies core curriculum into her art class. She explained to her class how Native Americans have long respected the animals and the earth. They pray before hunting animals and use every part of its body, not wasting any part of it. She explains that this is why they would use skin hide to tell their history through drawings.

The students study the various meanings that the symbols explain in a petroglyph. Some of the symbols represent changes within tribes and region, while others might represent happiness, glory, or power. For example, a row of arrows means protecting ones’ border of their tribe and zig-zags were symbols for mountain ranges.

Michie next explains the steps for the students to follow. First, rip the edges of the brown paper bag material. Then, create a continuous pattern on the edges of the paper and draw symbols using oil pastels to tell a story. After, using white crayon, lightly scribble all over your drawing and finally crumple up the paper at least 20 times to give it a more ancient look. 

Within groups, the students have had the opportunity to learn about the Native American tribes through this project. This ancient artifact activity is a great hands-on way to conclude the unit for the indigenous cultures of the Americas.

Melissa Calvillo
  • Melissa Calvillo