BIG DIPPER STORY WHEEL
Background: The circumpolar constellations are the basis for this story from Canada. It is important to emphasize to the students that the people who told this story were describing the apparent motion of the Big Dipper and other constellations around the pole star (Polaris). We now know that it is the motion of the Earth that allows us to see the stars in different positions (a) from hour-to-hour throughout a night and (b) from month-to-month during a year. Remember that there is a season for storytelling in Native American traditions (approximately late Fall to early Spring)! Storytelling is not done at other times of the year.
Objectives: The students will learn about a Canadian Indian tale and will compare the action in the story to the scientific facts about the motion of the Earth and apparnet motion of the stars.
1 large sheet construction paper per student
1 paper plate per student
glue or rubber cement
markers, crayons, paper scraps for decorating
Never-Ending Bear Hunt story
1. Attached is a summary of the story. The full text can be found in North American Indian Stories: More Star Tales by G. W. Mayo, 1990; an alternate version appears in The Dance in the Sky Native American Star Myths by J. Monroe and R. Williamson, 1987. A pattern for the constellations and a template for folding the large construction paper are linked with the write-up.
2. Share the story of the Never-Ending Bear Hunt with the students. You may want to discuss seasons, constellation patterns, the Big Dipper asterism (asterism = a recognizeable pattern of stars that is not one of the 88 official constellations), Polaris (the North Star, Pole Star), navigation, etc. as part of the lesson.
3. You will need one paper plate (sturdy ones with raised edges do not work well), one pattern sheet, one brass fastener, and one large piece of construction paper for each student. Crayons or markers for decorating the constellations and/or the construction paper foreground, glue, and a stapler are also needed.
4. Decorate the constellation pictures on the circular pattern. Cut it out and glue it to the center of a paper plate.
5. Using the large template (or the measurements from the template), locate and mark the position of Polaris on a large sheet of construction paper. Caution: Our template is for 11x14 inch copier paper, which is not an exact match for 12x18 inch construction paper. Follow the written instructions on the template. Option: Prefold the paper and mark the positions for Polaris and the side staples for younger students.
6. Push the brass fastener through the Polaris on the paper plate pattern and again through the mark on the construction paper. Secure the fastener.
7. Fold the construction paper up from the bottom edge as indicated. Staple slong the side edges, close to the edge. Be sure the staples are not too close to the top (horizontal) folded edge; the paper plate needs clearance in order to rotate, as Polaris is not in the center.
8. Slowly rotate the paper plate counterclockwise, allowing the bear to exit her den and the hunters to fall below the horizon, as described in the story. If the horizon is too low, the students can add trees, rocks, or other decorations to help rise the horizon. Continue to decorate the construction paper foreground with crayons, markers, construction paper scraps, etc.
9. Share the story again. The teacher or student(s) can rotate the pape plate to illustrate the changing positions of the constellations throughout the seasons.
10. Be sure to emphasize again that it is not the stars that move, but the motion of the Earth that makes them move. Early cultures used star positions and stories to mark seasons, especially planting and harvesting times, even though the science might not be as accurate as our current knowledge!
Return to Project ARTIST Home Page