Explore Chucalissa :: Dreamcatchers and Story Legends

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The crafts, projects, and lessons in this article are meant to introduce a variety of topics in archaeology and history by incorporating Native American culture. This specific article is recommended for kids age 6-8 (approximately 1st and 2nd grade). Students can learn more about the site of Chucalissa during a field trip or family visit.

The earthen mounds at Chucalissa were constructed and occupied between A.D. 1000- 1500 by the people of the Mississippian culture who built platform mounds used for ceremonies and residences of high-ranking officials. The Mississippians lived in permanent villages with houses made of mud and thatch.

But within the walls of those earthen mounds were real living people, with families and communities. Stories were passed from generation to generation.

Among these were the legends and beliefs around Dreamcatchers.

dream catcher

 

Are you homeschooling? Are your kids just into Native American cultures and customs? Is your family intrigued by the Indian history we have right here in the Mid-South? Then look no further!

Students can make their own dreamcatcher as they compare and contrast two Native American legends about dreamcatchers. The educational focus is compare and contrast and symbolism. (For this craft and others like it, visit Chucalissa’s Teacher Resource page, linked here.)

 

1. First, watch “An Ojibwe Legend“* and “A Lakota Legend

White Lakota Dreamcatcher with Dyed feathers
Lakota Dreamcatcher

2. Follow up discussion questions

• What are dreamcatchers?
Native Americans believe they protect people from bad dreams.
• What are some similarities between the Ojibwe and Lakota legends of dreamcatchers?
Both legends’ main character is a spider who spins a web to capture dreams. Both webs are used at night to filter dreams.
• What are some differences between the legends?
In the Ojibwe legend, the spider’s web ensnares bad dreams, allowing good dreams to pass to the dreamer. In the Lakota legend, the spider’s web captures good dreams for the dreamer, allowing only bad dreams to pass and burn up.
• What is symbolism?
It is when an idea or feeling is represented by something else such as a picture or object.

Ojibwe dreamcatcher
Ojibwe dreamcatcher

3. Let’s make Dreamcatchers!

Supplies Needed:

  • One paper plate
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Yarn (four 12″ sections and one 48″ section)
  • Clear tape
  • Pony beads
  • Feathers (ours were about 3 1/2-4″ long)
  • Markers

Directions:

1. Cut a 5″ (or so) circle from the center of the paper plate, leaving the outer rim of the plate intact.
2. Use the hole punch to make a series of holes every inch or so around the inner edge of the ring.
3. Use markers to decorate the ring with patterns and images as desired.
4. Weave the 48″ piece of yarn through the holes in the inner edge of the ring going across the ring to create a web for the bad dreams to get caught in. This is the fun part–even young children can relax and weave this inner section. The funkier, the better! We secured the beginning and ends of our yarn to the back of the ring with clear tape.
5. Use the hole punch to create a single hole at the top of the ring to hang the dream catcher. Make a loop from one of the 12″ long strands of yarn, run it through the hole and knot it to secure. If you like, you can string a couple of pony beads onto the hanging loop to add some color.
6. Use the hole punch to create three holes about an inch apart along the bottom edge of the dreamcatcher. Feed the remaining 12″ strands of yarn through the holes and double knot to secure. Feed pony beads onto the yarn coming from each hole. Knot and then use clear tape to attach a feather to the bottom of each strand. Trim excess yarn with scissors. Repeat to make three strands of beads with feathers coming off the bottom of the dreamcatcher. I made the center stand slightly longer than the other two.
7. Hang above your bed to catch all of those bad dreams! Nighty-night!

finished dreamcatcher

 

chucalissa

We hope this article will help you bring the spirit of the museum (and site) to your homeschool group or home learning time. Your children can also learn more about the specific site of Chucalissa through a field trip or classroom visit.

We encourage you to book a private tour by contacting chucalissa@memphis.edu or by calling 901-785-3160.

Click here to learn more about what to expect during a visit.

 

 

*this video is perfect for this age group until about the 5 min. mark or so

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