Saturday, May 8, 2010

Desert Dwellers

We started our study of native americans before Easter and taking a couple of weeks off to learn about birds before it got too hot.  We are now taking that up again as our weather heats up.

Since the boys are so young, I decided to start local and spread out from there.  They were having a hard time grasping geographical regions and it was easier to start with the tribes here in Arizona since the boys can already relate to the desert, climate, geology, plants, etc. 

There is a reason why most preschool-early elementary curriculum focuses on local - my house, my family, my neighborhood, the doctor, grocer, policeman, etc...   It gives the kids a way to relate and categorize what they are learning.  Getting to experience a taste of early american indian life here is far more interesting to them than just reading about foreign climates in books without having an immediate way to relate.

We enjoyed learning about the Tohono O'odham (Pima) and Akimel O'odham (Papago) tribes.  There really aren't any children's books that I could find that focused on these two tribes, but our study of the Arizona desert did include elements of the O'odham tribes.  The boys favorite was Desert Giant.  They are now obsessed with looking for saguaro fruit and making plans to knock it down with poles like the O'odham people do.

To find out more about these tribes and how they survived here in the harsh desert, we made a trip to the Arizona Botanical Gardens and their Plants and People trail.  Making learning hands-on is so helpful for these little 'concrete' thinkers!

The boys loved grinding mesquite pods.  Watching them grind made me incredibly curious what food with these ground seed pods taste like.  Maybe one of these days we'll have to experiment...

Xander hanging out in an Akimel/Pima roundhouse. 
And pretending to cook in an Akimel outdoor kitchen area. 
And seeking shelter from the sun under one of these.  They would use these shaded pavilions when going out to harvest and cook the saguaro fruit!

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