Quantcast

3D Digital Artifact Collection

Teaching with Artifacts:

Lesson Ideas - Part II

 Wondering what an artifact-based lesson might look like? Here is an example using Native American artifacts. The lesson examines the art and culture of Native Americans of the Southwest.

The Native American Pipe Bag 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

1. Background essay on the Pipe Bag
2. Super Zoom Image of the Pipe Bag

Pipe bag artifact.

EXERCISE:

1. Review the essay on the pipe bag prior to the beginning of the class.
2. Project the Spin Set image of the pipe bag. Have students examine the image.

  • In groups, have students describe what they see. Have them record their observations on paper for reporting later to the entire group.

3. Have students report their observations. List the characteristics of the artifact as they report. DO NOT ALLOW CONJECTURE CONCERNING USE OF THE OBJECT AT THIS TIME.
4. Give the students the dimensions of the pipe bag and have them re-examine the artifact. You may guide them with the following questions:

  • Are both ends of the object the same?
  • Describe the differences
  • Add those descriptions to those already on the board

5. ASK THE STUDENTS:

  • Who do you think used this item? (What group? Which persons in the group?)
  • What do you think the object is?  Record their answers but DO NOT TELL THEM THE ANSWER.

6. Point out the major design on the white background. Tell the students that this is a fine example of the “SIOUX FOUR WINDS.”

  • Have the students speculate about why the design might be called the “Four Winds.”
  • Have the students speculate about what the “Four Winds” might mean
  • Does knowing the name of the design help with what this might be? What is it?

7. Note that one end is highly decorated and that the other is not.

  • ASK: WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THIS IS MADE THIS WAY?
  • ASK: WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS WAS USED FOR?
  • Answers must be based on analysis not just guessing.
  • TELL THEM THAT THIS IS A PIPE BAG

8. Give them a short explanation of the pipe ceremony, pipe, pipe bundle, and keeper of the pipe.

NOW ASK:

  • Why do you think the “Four Winds” design is on the pipe bag?
  • ARE THERE OBJECTS IN YOUR LIFE WITH DESIGNS THAT INDICATE WHAT THEY MIGHT BE USED FOR?

                         [Possible Answers: book covers, key rings, and so on.]

ARTIFACTS TEACH

Start your 30-day free trial. No credit card required.   Get Started

EXPERT OPINION

  • “Every object has a story to tell if you know how to read it.”
    – Henry Ford
  • “Dealing with objects is a great way to teach the different steps involved in analyzing different kinds of materials. With just a little background, you can get students to engage with entirely new materials in extremely fruitful ways.”
    – Anita Nikkanen
    Harvard University
  • “Using objects helps students develop important intellectual skills.”
    – John Hennigar Shuh
    Curator, Nova Scotia Museum
  • "Whenever I used objects in my EFL classroom, I was surprised by how many questions I would get. I was especially excited when students who usually sat quietly were tempted to ask a question based on my object.”
    – Jenny Wei
    Specialist, National Museum of American History
  • When we examine the parts, we get a new perspective on the whole. There is nothing like holding a dinosaur bone, or the smell of cedar baskets…”
    – Burke Museum
    University of Washington, Seattle WA
  • “Every object has a story, right? Actually that’s a bit limiting. Every object has multiple stories.”
    – Rob Walker
    designer of Significant Objects and How They Got That Way

Teacher Questions