Like all schools, Chets Creek Kindergarten includes field experiences in its learning opportunities. The first such experience this year for kindergartners was at the FCCJ Theatre where students had an opportunity to watch Native Americans dance and sing. Some of the children were riding the bus for the first time or sitting in a theatre for a live performance for the first time. The kindergartner sitting next to me wanted to know when we were going to get popcorn when we first sat down in the theatre! However, the actual information of this field trip is most important to this group of youngsters because they will soon be deeply involved in a Native American unit and will refer back to the music and dancing that they heard today over and over.
About six years ago Kindergarten teachers became uncomfortable with their generic "Indian" Pow Wow celebration around Thanksgiving where all the little "Indians" wore brown pillowcase garb with feathers and pounded homemade drums. The teachers began researching Native American tribes as a professional learning community and decided that each class would research a specific tribe and bring those traditions to our annual Pow Wow celebration. That decision to bring more authentic experiences to our children led to the field trip today. Today the students got their first taste of what a Pow Wow looks like and sounds like. As always, when we begin this unit of study, I am impressed with the teachers willingness to go the extra mile to teach our youngest children how to research and how much they care about getting the "real" information. I am also impressed with the Native Americans' deep spiritual connection with the Earth and their understanding that they are stewards of our natural resources. This year their message particularly resonates with our Kindergarten.