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Images of Early America

Context for this Lesson

Teaching Strategies: 

FOCUS:  Exploring the use of “sculpting” as a DFS tool in a unit on the early American Colonial period


Introduce: Explain that today we will be exploring ways to use our bodies to create frozen images of a moment in time. But first we will begin by playing a game where we can practice communicating with our bodies without making any sound.
CIRCLE DASH:  Bring all the students together in a standing circle as wide as there is room in your classroom. Explain that this is silent game and that our job as members of the circle is to silently signal each other and switch places. Practice this a number of times until everyone has had a chance to make a switch or two. Then explain that now you are going to add a person in the center of the circle who is going to try and find an empty place in the circle. The teacher should start in the center. Remind students to be sure to go around each other and not through. Remind them that more than one pair can switch at a time. After you’ve played for a while stop and ask students how they “communicated” with each other to make their switches.
Discuss ways we communicate without speaking.


SCULPTING: Demonstrate sculpting with a volunteer. Have one student come forward and be the “clay.” Ask them “may I sculpt you?” Explain that your job is to tell the person how you want them to move without talking. 
Brainstorm with the students different ways this could be done. Try to show them how to use an invisible string to pull a particular body part, show them how the clay could mirror the sculptor’s actions, or that the sculptor can actually touch and manipulate their partner. 
Partner Sculpt: Break students into pairs have one person choose to be “A” and one to be “B.” Ask A’s to sculpt their partner into an activity the pilgrims might have done as they traveled in the Mayflower. Remember no talking. Have all sculptors walk around and view the statues. Switch. Ask B’s to sculpt their partner into an activity the pilgrims might have done once they landed and were preparing their new home (hunting, building, washing, etc.). 
Line Sculpt: Create two lines facing each other A’s and B’s. Have A’s use their imaginations to sculpt themselves into an image of the pilgrims seeing the Native Americans for the first time. Have B’s use their imaginations to sculpt what the Native Americans might feel seeing the Pilgrims in their land for the first time. Share the images at the same time. Have just the Native Americans show their images. Have just the Pilgrims show their images. 

  • How each of these groups might have felt seeing each other for the first time?
  • How did this initial greeting eventually lead to the first Thanksgiving?