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These Native American “leather” stories make a great Thanksgiving hallway display


Language Arts, Social Studies  


4, 5, 6, 7, 8  

Title – Native American “Leather” Stories
By – Candace Beckel
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects – Social Studies
Grade Level – 4-8

Materials needed:

  • Brown paper grocery bags (donated)
  • Sandpaper (donated)
  • Native American symbols handout
  • Black markers


      Go to a local grocery store and ask them to donate brown paper grocery bags – one bag for every two students.

(Most grocery stores are very willing to donate bags if they know it is for a school or lesson plan.)

      Go to

      and type in “Native American symbols” and you will be given many different sites containing pages of Native American symbols corresponding to modern day English words.
      Give each student a copy of the symbols and then have your students pair up to work on the bags.
      Instruct your student pairs to cut off the sides and bottom of the paper bag and give one student the front and the other gets the back. Give each student a piece of sandpaper

(some stores are also willing to donate this as well)

      and instruct them to begin sanding the inside of their bag

(you don’t want the store’s logo to show).

      The bag should start to become very soft and pliable. The students can also work the bag with their hands so it gets even softer. The final result should be a very soft, flexible bag that resembles a piece of leather that Native Americans may have used.
      Once the sanding is done, instruct your students to work out a Native American story

(on a piece of scratch paper first)

      using as many of the symbols in place of English words as they can. It is okay if they use some English words

(it sometimes is a necessity, because not all English words have a Native American symbol)

      , but they should try and use as many symbols as possible. The symbols handout should spark their imaginations and they should have no trouble coming up with a story idea.
      Once their story is worked out on a piece of scratch paper, check it for grammatical errors, then have them write their story out on their piece of “leather.” Once it is written out in pencil, have them outline their story in black marker.
    These Native American “leather” stories are a wonderful hallway or bulletin board display for Thanksgiving.

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