Kimiko Kajikawa, Children's Book AuthorKimiko Kajikawa, Children's Book Author
Kimiko Kajikawa, Children's Book Author

Lesson Plans for Dancing Rainbows: A Pueblo Boy's Story (Grades 1-4)

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Drums beat loudly.

Jingle... Jingle... Jingle... Bells jingle as dancers in colorful costumes move to the beat of the drums.

Bread is baking in the oven, and food is cooking for the feast. It's Feast Day at San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico — a day of dancing, feasting, and fun!

Join Curt, a young Pueblo Indian, and his grandfather, Andy. Informative text and vibrant full color photographs capture a celebration and culture rich in beauty and tradition.

Dancing Rainbows is an excellent book to begin classroom units about Native Americans.

The Pueblo People

Pueblo (Spanish for "village") Indians live in the southwestern United States in northwestern New Mexico and northeastern Arizona.

There are many pueblos comprising the Pueblo nation: Acoma, Conchiti, Jemez, Laguna, Nambe, Pojoaque, Picuris, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, San Juan, Sandia, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santo Domingo, Taso, Tesuque, Zia Isleta, and Zuni.

The Pueblo Indians believe that they are one with nature and that spirits can be found in all living things — clouds, animals, corn, and rain

The Pueblo Indians are well known for their pottery, weaving, and basket making.

Social Studies

  • Display a map of the United States. Curt and Andy are from San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico. Have the students point out the state and the three main towns surrounding the pueblos: Santa Fe, Los Alamos, and Albuquerque. Have the students find the river along which the pueblos are located (the Rio Grande).
     
  • Discuss the Pueblo traditions that have been passed down to Curt from his grandfather. Then ask your students to think about the traditions that have been passed down from their families. Have students bring in songs, foods, stories, music, dances, or crafts to share with the class.

Science

  • Talk with students about how the Pueblo people live in harmony with nature. Have the students discuss ways in which they can help take care of the earth.
     
  • The desert where the Pueblo Indians live receives less than 20 inches of rain a year. Discuss the importance of rain, as well as the vegetation and animal life in a desert area. Ask students why they think every pueblo dance is a prayer for rain.

Language

  • Share the book Earth Always Endures: Native American Poems, photographs by Edward S. Curtis (Viking, ages 10 and up). This anthology of Native American poetry is an outstanding collection of chants, prayers and songs accompanied by the spectacular photography of Edward S. Curtis. The combination of poetry and image touches the heart and inspires with its beauty. Then, have your students write and illustrate their own poetry with a Native American theme.

Art

  • Have students create pottery the same way the Pueblo Indians and their ancestors, the Anasazi, did. Give each student a ball of clay. Have them tear off clumps and roll them into "snakes." Tell students to form each snake into a circle, placing the snakes on top of each other. Then, flatten a ball of clay for the bottom of the pot. Use a plastic knife to smooth out the coiled sides.

Free Information

  • Contact the New Mexico Board of Tourism for free maps, brochures and guides, at 1-800-545-2070, or visit them at http://www.newmexico.org.

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