Life Lessons for the Season

Use the season to teach lessons about community.

Last Friday, before the bell rang, I told my students that on Monday we would be taking a trip without buffalo hide to the "river" like the Native Americans of long ago. On Monday morning, parents wanted to know where this river was and did their child need a permission slip! My students were ready I tell you! Check out these pictures from our trip.

Community building is a long lost and much needed component of a successful classroom. Before we began our journey, the students began to share the differences in our ways of life—the one common idea: We depend on each other; each person is important.

We began our trip to "the river" on foot around the campus, the playground which is easy to climb for some became difficult and scary for climbers with materials in their hands. I watched in amazement as children offered words of encouragement to struggling students; what lessons adults can learn from children! No one was left behind and no one gave up.

Finally, a "guide" (one of my previous students) said, “I know where the river is, let me take you.” We finally reached the bucket of water nestled in trees. The river seemed so small in comparison to the work students had done to get there. But they quickly connected to the fact that Native Americans had to do the same thing to enjoy simple needs such as fresh water.

Studying Native Americans has been cornered into a few weeks surrounding Thanksgiving. I encourage studying their rich culture and ways of life all year long. Discover how their community can teach life lessons for your classroom or your family. Community and togetherness is the theme that carries my students through the year and beyond.

Here are some awesome activities to accompany a study on Native American cultures:

  • Buffalo hide: Take butcher paper and tear the edges to look worn. Dip the paper in a mixture of water and fabric softener (dip twice and the paper doesn’t tear). When the paper dries it feels as soft as buckskin. (You can see the student with their buffalo hides in the picture above.)
  • Name your tribe: Use authentic Native American symbols or create your own. Select symbols that reflect who you are. One of my students selected the name Friendship River. The names students select are very telling.
  • Build a meeting area: We built a peace tent with our buffalo hides in the middle of our room!


Secret of the White Buffalo is a perfect book for illustrating the vibrant culture and importance of community in a Native American tribe.