Children often learn better with hands on application of the knowledge being shared. Making crafts will help the students relate to the lesson, understand it better and remember it longer. Projects and crafts can help children remember and process lessons about Cherokee traditions and history.
The medicine man carried his herbs in a pouch or bag he slung over his should. The students can make their medicine pouches out of leather or cloth. Using one long rectangular piece of cloth, fold the cloth into thirds. The top third will be the top flap, and the bottom two thirds will be the pouch. Sew the edges of the bottom two thirds of the cloth together with leather strips or twine in large but tight stitches. Leave the flap loose for easy access, or attach a leather or twine string to the flap and another to the bag to tie the flap closed. Decorate the flap with beads and simple patterns by sewing the beads into the cloth with a needle and thread.
Dance Arm Band
When the Cherokee celebrated one of their six main holidays, a wedding or even a funeral, they dressed in special costumes designed for that specific event. Many costumes called for arm bands. Using a leather hole punch, punch holes at 1-inch intervals in the middle of a wide strap of leather or imitation leather. Weave a piece of twine or suede cord through the holes, attaching small bells to the cord. The bells will be visible when the arm band is worn so make sure they are on the outside of the strap. Sew the ends of the strap together with a needle and thread. Tie the cord around the arm band loosely enough that you can untie it for size adjustments. Decorations can include beads on the cord and paint on the strap.
The dream catcher is a traditional ornament that is believed to catch bad dreams and let through good dreams. The original dream catcher was made with the sinew of the animals the Cherokee eat and thin branches from nearby trees. The dream catcher project for children uses twine or yarn and metal hoops. To string the dream catcher, loop the twine in intervals about an inch apart around the hoop. To loop the twine, tie one end of the twine at the top of the hoop. Then twist the twine around the hoop an inch away from where you tied the first end. Twist the twine once or twice at each stop. Make sure to pull the loops tight. Tie the next layer of loops inside the middle of the loops in the layer before. This pattern will create a spiderweb. Leave the middle open for attaching feathers or beaded strings.
The Cherokee people made coiled baskets out of tightly wound pine needles and twigs. Using raffia and a thick rope or cord, older students can make their own coiled basket. Wrap the raffia around the cord, winding it tightly, and set it with glue. Coil the covered cord by twisting the cord around itself in a circle. Then tie each layer of coil to the next layer of cord with straps of raffia and glue. Add beads to the raffia used to tie the cord layers, if so desired, but do not add beads to the cord, as this will leave holes in the basket. Continue coiling the covered cord and tying the layers of cord with raffia until you have created a basket.
Amy Lea has been writing since 1993. Her work has been published on numerous websites. She specializes in writing how-to and education articles. Lea received an Associate of Arts in teacher education from St. Louis Community College.