Monday’s class bridged the two units – Colorado animals and Native Americans. The children learned about the deer family and their behavior patterns in the fall. We both read about and role played how and why the deer “fight,” using their antlers to assert dominance and battle for herd leadership. The children used toys, taking turns stating “I want to be the daddy buck of the herd. I want all the food. I want to be the boss of all of the does.” Which ever buck lost the battle had to leave the herd, leaving themselves more susceptible to predators (mountain lions and people). Most often, my buck lost and had to go find another, forlorn buck who was not strong enough to lead a heard of deer to safety and to help them find food. We reflected upon the changes in our natural environment we had previously discussed and everyone agreed that it would be very difficult for the deer to find food during the winter months.
Later in the day we read about native Americans. We noticed the clothing and the homes they lived in, reading about how the native Americans used deer hide and fur to make their shoes and clothing and even their shelters. The children were amazed at the importance of deer and elk in the lives of the native Americans, particularly fascinated by how they used all aspects of the animal’s body as tools for survival (weapons, water jugs, shoes….). We even explored real pelts and several types of antlers. We wrapped up the day’s lesson by creating deer hats, not just to role play battling bucks, but also because the native Americans made deer hats to show both their respect for the animals and, perhaps, to help them in the hunt!
The children loved the lessons and a great foundation was laid and interest sparked for the children to create and experience more aspects of native American history.