Native American Culture 😊

This culture for session was our busiest yet! 15 mini-explorers crafting and engaging with native american culture.


Buffalo was very important to native americans. They used every part to supply the needs of everyday life. This diagram found at Liz Collins Classroom shows just how each part was used.


As buffalo was such an important aspect of native american life, we created brown paper buffalo and used one of our favourite  activities, potato stamping, to print native american symbols so the children could engage with both the importance of the  buffalo and the symbols used.




Native American totem poles or posts are sculptures carved in to large trees. Totem poles are carved and painted with symbols and totems or figures such as animals that represent the emblems of clans or families. A too temperature is an emblem, such as an animal or plant that is believed to have spiritual significance and watches over the family, clan, or tribe symbolising their guardian. Totem poles were not worshiped but they inspired respect.

The meaning of totem poles can be interpreted from the carvings and symbols that tell a story:

  • Every animal depicted on a pole had a special meaning, characteristics and significance
  • Every colour has a special meaning and significance
  • Every tribe and clan or family had a special animal totem and their poles were associated with specific colours
  • The position of figures on the pole were significant

Our mini-explorers used our homemade play doh to crate their own totem poles.

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Only the most brave and powerful of the tribe wore headdresses. Each headdress varies from tribe to tribe as it represents the culture of each tribe. The individual wearing it would often customize the headdress making it unique to that individual.

Warriors earned a feather each time he did so etching the tribe felt was a brave act. Many times, the first feather earned by a warrior was given to him for being seen as an adult member of the tribe. Each time the warrior earned a feather, he would either wear it (but he only wore a couple into battle) or put it on a pole used for special occasions. Once he had collected enough feathers, they were then made into a headdress. Because each feather had a special meaning, binding them together in a headdress made that headdress even more special.

The most prized of all feathers to recieve was the golden eagle feather. Because native americans saw the Eagle as a messenger of God,  this feather could only be earned through hardship, loyalty and strength.


A rainstick is a hollow tube partially filled with small objects such as pebbles or beans. When turned over the falling objects collide creating a sound similar to falling rain. The true origins of the rainstick are disputed however, many believe the rainstorm was created by the Diaguita of Chile to bring rain. Ancient Chilean tribes believed that rainsticks evoked the rain spirits which was very important in their harsh, dry climate.

The rainstick tube is usually made out of a cactus, which has is hollowed out and dried in the sun. The pellets inside could be anything – pebbles, sand and dried beans are commonly used. The rainstick has pins pushed through i to the middle so the pellets inside can bounce off them to create the rainfall sound.

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The children had great fun  (with a little help) creating rainsticks from toilet paper tubes. We inserted a tinfoil coil so that the rice would have something to bounce off inside creating a more ‘rainy’ noise.

Teepee were the homes of the nomadic tribes of the great plans. They were built using a number of long poles as a frame, tied together at the top and spread out at the bottom. This was then wrapped with a large covering made from buffalo hide. When the tribe arrived at a new spot, typically the woman would assemble the teepee. Building a teepee was very efficient and took around 30 minutes to construct.

In the summer the covering would be raised to allow for a large gap at the bottom. This gap enabled cool air to flow through the teepee and keep the inside cool. In the winter additional coverings and insulation such as grass was used. A fire would be set up in the centre of the teepee, with a hole at the top to let out the smoke. Buffalo hides were used for beds and blankets.

We had great fun recreating teepees for the group 😊




  Thanks for reading

Donna x


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