by Linda Swartz
3rd & 4th Grades
Montgomery Elementary School
Curriculum Integration: This project is a good adjunct to any Native American unit of study. It integrates nicely with a literature unit on Native American myths and legends, many of which relate how Native American children or young adults received or changes their names based on their accomplishments or experiences. You may want to preface this project with a writing project in which students choose a Native American name or write a name poem based on animal or nature spirit guides which each one chooses or identifies as a personal symbol.
Grade Levels: 2nd - 6th
- 1 large brown paper grocery bag per 2 students
- Medium point black Sharpie permanent pens
- Oil pastels
- 40 cm diameter tag board circle for shield pattern
- 30 - 34 cm diameter tag board circles for patterns
- Drawings or teacher made patterns of animals
- Brown and black tempera paint and large brushes
- Tub of water and newspaper or tarp for drying
- Spray fixative
Time Frame: 3 (approximately) one-hour sessions
Session 1 Preparing the Shields
- carefully cut and/or tear apart the paper bags along existing seams and remove the handles. Be careful to maximize the paper area to create one large rectangle.
- Trace two large 40 cm circles using felt pen on the printed size of the bag. Then cut the bag in half to provide shields for two students.
- Tear carefully around the outside (to within 1/2" to 1") of the marked circle.
- Crumple the circle, immerse in a tub of water briefly until water is absorbed throughout; crumple again; then uncrumple carefully and flatten out on newspaper or drying area.
- Mix in a shallow pan a dab each of brown and black tempera paint with a lot of water to create a wash. Brush each shield on the unmarked side with the wash.
- Allow the shield to dry for several hours or overnight. It will have the effect of a tanned skin.
Session 2 Drawing the Patterns
Session 3 Coloring the Shields
- After selecting an animal or nature object such as a star, cloud, moon, etc., or choosing a native American name, each student will draw a design on his/her shield in pencil.
- Begin with tracing the inner circle (optional) of 30 - 34 cm on the shield.
- Draw your animal or nature shape in the center of the circle.
- Add designs such as mountains, water, sun, stars and geometric lines.
- Along the outer edge, create a border. Designs may include feathers, lightning, geometric designs and the like.
- Trace all pencil lines with black markers, closing all spaces to create a color-book effect.
- Using oil pastels, color in your designs.
- Be sure to completely fill spaces to create a matte finish.
- You may leave certain areas, especially in the outside border, plain so that some of the "skin" shows.
- Spray fixative on each shield outdoors to prevent smearing before bringing inside to display.
©   Deborah Padrick   2001