Native American Dream Catchers

This was written as part of a larger unit

Subject: This will go over the history of the dream catcher in the Native American culture. The students will have a chance to create on of their own.

Grade Level: 1st grade

• "Long ago when the word was sound, an old Lakota spiritual leader was on a high mountain and had a vision. In his vision, Iktomi, the great trickster and searcher of wisdom, appeared in the form of a spider. Iktomi spoke to him in a sacred language. As he spoke, Iktomi the spider picked up the elder's willow hoop which had feathers, horsehair, beads and offerings on it, and began to spin a web. He spoke to the elder about the cycles of life, how we begin our lives as infants, move on through childhood and on to adulthood. Finally we go to old age where we must be taken care of as infants, completing the cycle. But, Iktomi said as he continued to spin his web, in each time of life there are many forces, some good and some bad. If you listen to the good forces, they will steer you in the right direction. But, if you listen to the bad forces, they'll steer you in the wrong direction and may hurt you. So these forces can help, or can interfere with the harmony of Nature. While the spider spoke, he continued to weave his web. When Iktomi finished speaking, he gave the elder the web and said, The web is a perfect circle with a hole in the center. Use the web to help your people reach their goals, making good use of their ideas, dreams and visions. If you believe in the great spirit, the web will filter your good ideas and the bad ones will be trapped and will not pass."
• Native Americans believed that dreams were floating in the air.
• The Bad dreams would get caught in the web and expire when the sun rose while the good dreams would go through the center and then flow down through the feathers to the sleeping individual to come to them.
• The Ojibwe sometimes spelled Ojibway, Annishnabe, and Chippewa were the first to make dream catchers, but it has spread beyond those tribes
• the Hoop was held in the highest esteem and represents strength and unity and that is why they are built around a hoop
• Dream catchers hold the destiny of the future
• Traditionally Dream catchers are made out of a willow branch or some grapevine, they are bent into a circle then the designed is weaved in and lastly it is decorated.

Rationale Statement: For young students when learning about the history of America it is important for them to learn about all of the people that were here before them, one of these groups being the Native Americans. Not only is it important for them to learn who was here it is important for them to learn about the cultures of those people, because there will be some students in the class who still practice some of the customs that have been passed on over time to them. So by looking at the art that different groups created the students can learn about different beliefs and why they created some of the things that they created. By learning about other cultures and different customs around the world and in America it will teach students from a young age to be more accepting of other ideas. It will teach them it is okay for everybody to be different and have different beliefs


• Students will learn why Dream Catchers were created.
• Students will learn how traditional Dream Catchers are created.
• Students will gain experience in making their own Dream Catcher.
• Students will discuss whether they view Dream Catchers as a piece of art or not.

• Hoop- A circular band of metal, wood, or other material.

Production Materials:
• Precut hoops from paper ribbon-enough that each student has one or something else that will work as the circular base
• yarn or string
• beads
• feathers
• scissors(that are first grade appropriate)

Interdisciplinary Connections:
• History-Learn more about the history of the Native American culture
• Science-Learn about what Native Americans grew to live off of and do an experiment to grow some of those plants in a way that the students can watch the process plants go through when they are growing
• Reading-Read other myths and stories from the Native American culture

Adaptations: If students are going to have a problem tying knots then you could switch to a different form that can be used for the circle, like a paper plate with the center cut out, that the kids could tape or glue the string down.

Lesson Criteria:
• Students will understand what Dream Catchers are used for
• Students will be able to tie knots better if any students were having trouble before the lesson.
• Students will be able to create their own Dream Catcher
• Students will have another piece of knowledge to help them understand the Native American culture.

• Before the class gets into the project the teacher will give a presentation to the students about the history of dream catchers and show them what traditional ones look like.
• If the students desks are grouped together the teacher can have trays with the supplies ready on them for each group.
• Before the supplies are passed out the teacher should tape up pictures of each step to the board and explain each step so that the students would know what we were going to do.
◦ Tie one end of a string on one end of the circle and then the other end of the string to another side of the circle. The student will repeat this step as many times as they want to in order to create their web.
◦ As the students are tying the strings onto the circle they can string beads on after they have tied one end onto the circle to add decoration to their web.
◦ Once the students web is the way that they like it they can then take their scissors to trim up any strings that are hanging of the edges. If the students scissors are having trouble cutting the string the teacher and any classroom helpers can go around and help the students trim up their edges with sharper scissors.
◦ Then the students can move onto creating the tails that hang down. The teacher could have a selection of longer strings for this part up on the front desk and tell students once they reach this part they can come up and choose what ones they want and take them back to there desk or they can already be on the trays as long as the students understand to wait and use the longer pieces of string until they are to this step.
◦ For this part the students decide what part of the ring is the bottom and then tie however many strings they want to hang down.
◦ Then the students can string beads onto those strings and tie a knot to keep them on. Or they can tie feathers to the ends.
◦ Each student will know when their individual dream catcher is complete.
• Depending on the students in the class, if if the teacher thought that students would be ok carrying the tray and not spilling the beads everywhere they can have one student from each group come up and grab a tray or if the teacher felt the students may have trouble with this they could take a tray to each group there-self.
• Then it is time to let the students start creating and the teacher can walk around the classroom helping students who are having any trouble with the technical skills.

Assessment and analysis:
• I will assess the students work by:
◦ If students can tell me what a dream catcher is used for.
◦ If they put effort into creating their cream catcher.
◦ If students can tie knots better.
◦ If students can explain to me about the Native American culture using all of the knowledge they have learned up to this point.

Support Material:

If your going to teach this lesson find some images of your favorite dream catchers to show the students. Some that I really like can be seen here, here, and here