Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Paper Chain Story

Cammy has been begging to learn how to make paper chain dolls. She still has a hard time cutting well with scissors and gets frustrated easily but is getting better. I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to help her hone her skills and tell a story at the same time. We have been engrossed with our study of Native Americans and pilgrims for the past two weeks. I came across a book by Jean Stangl titled Paper Stories. It has a lot of really cute stories to tell and paper patterns to go along with them. I chose one about Indian maidens and adapted the story to fit what we are studying a little better. Here is the story I told.

One day a young Indian girl named Pocahontas was playing in the woods near the sea shore when she saw a strange sight on the horizon of the water. There was a dark shape coming towards land. It was an English ship with strange people on board. They came to shore and immediately she wanted to meet these strangers but she thought that her father Chief Powhatan might be angry with her for this. She didn't know if these new people with their light skin and hair on their faces would hurt her so she ran through the woods as fast as she could to tell her father the chief what had seen.

Chief Powhatan was glad to see his daughter come back to the village...she told him of the new visitors by the shore with the white skin and clothes all over their bodies. Chief Powhatan told Pocahontas how brave she had been and sent several Indian scouts to check out these new people and greet them. They returned with an Englishman named John Smith. They did not speak each others language but tried to communicate the best that they could. John Smith could see that there were many Indians in the village so he asked Chief Powhatan how many children there were. The Chief said that there were many but did not know how to tell John Smith a number in his language. John Smith said do you have one child? two children? three children? All the Chief could say was we have many....so he got out a piece of animal hide and folded it up and made a few cuts. When he unfolded it to reveal how many John Smith counted out loud so that the Indian chief could learn and understand in his language.

*This story can be simplified or changed to suit whatever your needs and is a great way to teach basic counting skills. We had a lot of fun afterward reading and singing along to a book we have called One Little , Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims by B.G. Hennessy

This is how you make it:

The first thing you need to do is get two pieces of paper that are about 6" x 20" for each character you want to cut out. We used brown paper grocery bags and just cut them at the glued seam and trimmed them to the size we wanted. I use them for a lot of our craft projects: they are thick and strong enough to take paint and best of all they are free. Fold the paper into 2" accordion folds and trace or draw half of a figure for the character you want in your story. We drew a Native American girl (Pocahontas) and a pilgrim boy for our story plot. Make sure the arms go all the way to the edge of the fold. Cammy had a hard time understanding why this was necessary at first until I showed her what would happen if you cut the edge of the fold all the way off ...all the figures fall apart. Make sure you cut the feather and fringe lines on the Native American girl. As you tell the story cut the figures out and at the end slowly unfold and have the children help you count along.

Cammy drew and cut out the pilgrim boy and colored all of the figures when we were through telling the story.

The paper grocery bags are stiff enough that they can even stand up on their own when you cut the figures out. We pretended the Indian girls were dancing around a fire.

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