Family Literacy Night-Dreamcatchers

When I was brainstorming about what to utilize my Family Literacy Night on, I was trying to think of something that is hands-on, creative, and educational. A little back story, my husband and I both come from the Native Cherokee Tribe. His grandma was born on the Indian Reservation in Oklahoma. He shared numerous stories with me about the traditions she tried passing on to him. One of these special traditions was that she would hand-make a dreamcatcher every birthday for him. She would use natural resources that can be found in nature. Seeing how special this tradition was for him, I decided to utilize my Family Literacy Event on appreciation of the Native American culture.

I did my research and learned all about the origin of the dreamcatcher. In the beginning of the event, I taught them about the tribe that dreamcatchers originated from, the Ojibwe tribe. Then, I read them the Ojibwe legend of the mystical Spider Woman who created the first dreamcatcher as a sign of protection. Lastly, we discovered the meaning and exactly how the dreamcatcher works to protect you. This got the students even more excited to create their very own dream catchers.

The students used embroidery hoops, yarn, beads, feathers, and glue to assemble their very own dream catchers. They were given these materials with make-and-take kits that we could assemble over Zoom together. They were also invited to have family members join next to them to make their own dreamcatchers too.

Once we finished, I had the students write about their experience from Family Literacy Night. I asked about what they learned, and how they felt about spending time with their families and classmates while creating the dreamcatchers. I was very happy to see in their writings that they had a lot of fun and retained information behind the origin of the dreamcatcher. At the end of the meeting, I even heard a student say that they think we must appreciate Native Americans because their culture is so unique. I made sure to point out that we ALL come from unique backgrounds and it’s amazing to appreciate all different cultures.

When I think about how well this night went and how I can utilize future events, I definitely think they can be used to highlight the different cultures we all come from. I hope it also motivates my students to reflect on the culture they come from and to appreciate something that is unique to their own culture.