On the day before Thanksgiving, a classroom of second graders at Dayton Elementary followed directions as best as they could, anxious for the long weekend.
As their teacher, Kim Norman, read a short passage full of incorrect terms, hands were thrust up in the air, almost immediately, as they recognized the errors.
The lesson comes at the end of Native American Heritage Month, and Norman said she and the students have been working for the last month on etiquette and knowledge of tribal culture.
It all began when Norman worked on a math lesson, showing the children how to gather information and then put that information into a bar graph.
“The whole opportunity was a good segue from Halloween into Native American Heritage Month,” she said.
“It just worked, and I’m very thankful for that.”
Using Halloween to create a math-graphing unit, one of the questions she asked her students was if they regularly dress up for Halloween.
Other questions students asked each other were favorite military branches, favorite desserts and Christmas activities.
“That got all the kids talking about their costumes, both past and present,” Norman explained.
Amadeus Gold Shoes, a student of Norman’s, explained that he and his classmates conducted a survey to complete a bar graph.
“We went around the room, and asked people if they trick or treated, and made our own graphs,” he said.
As people generally call traditional garments worn at pow wows costumes, Norman decided to address the misunderstanding.
“We talked about how our Halloween costumes are designed to hide who we are, whereas the Native American outfits worn during pow wows are to express who they are and to show respect to their heritage,” she said.
Some students participate in pow wows, and Norman recalled that her students knew the clothing is called regalia, not costumes.
Further keeping up with the theme for the month, Norman and her coworkers incorporated “regalia” into vocabulary by making it “word of the day.”
Norman shared that while she researched for activities to coincide with the lesson plans, it proved difficult to find Native American regalia that wasn’t “cartoonish.”
Finding several pictures with additional vocabulary included, students colored the papers, which are hung outside the classroom.