MULTICULTURAL SUN, MOON,
AND STAR ACTIVITIES
A. STAINED GLASS SUN SYMBOLS
B. SUN, MOON AND STAR STORY BOXES
A. STAINED GLASS SUN SYMBOLS
Background: Stories about and artistic representations of the Sun, Moon, and stars can be found in many cultural traditions worldwide. Sharing these different points of view with students allows them to value traditions that see other than the Man-in-the-Moon or the Sun as a Happy Face. Once students have basic factual information about the Sun, Moon, and stars, introducing them to non-scientific interpretations by observers in other times and places allows them to enjoy the stories that purported to explain what was seen while gaining a scientific understanding of craters, Sun spots, lunar phases, eclipses, constellations, etc. Students can write their own creative explanations for astronomical phenomena, as well as scientific reports, to integrate writing skills, literature, and science.
Objectives: Students will explore the different artistic views of the Sun as expressed by ancient and contemporary cultures. They will create a Sun symbol Sun catcher based on a traditional design. Options: Students can create a construction paper or rock art symbol of their own design.
cardboard backing, 1 per student
plastic wrap (preferably Saran Wrap) or transparencies
permanent markers (e.g., Sharpie pens)
masking tape, cellophane tape
pictures of Sun symbols
1. Present grade-appropriate factual information about the Sun.
2. Introduce the concept of a picture or symbol representing an object. Discuss Sun symbols, e.g., differences, similarities, importance to the people who designed them, scientific accuracy (or lack of scientific accuracy). Use the Sun symbols provided, as well as those found in clothing and jewelry catalogs, calendars, paper goods (napkins, stationery, date books), etc.
3. Share Sun legends, myths, and folklore from a variety of countries with the students.
4. Constructing stained glass Sun symbols:
a. Ask each student to choose a Sun symbol (use those provided or others you may find). Carefully tape the picture by the edges to the work surface with masking tape.
b. Provide scrap cardboard cut into rectangles slightly larger than the Sun symbols for backing. Paper plates also work well if you prefer round Sun catchers.
c. Tear a sheet of plastic wrap several inches larger than the cardboard backing. Place the plastic wrap over the Sun symbol. (Saran Wrap is less likely to tear or leak than many other brands.)
d. Trace the symbol with permanent markers. Bright colors, black outlines, and filled-in areas work better than light colors and fine-line outlining. Note:Transparencies work better than plastic wrap, but are expensive.
e. Tear a piece of aluminum foil a little larger than the cardboard backing.
f. Crumple the foil gently, then carefully flatten it. The uneven surface will catch the light, creating a stained-glass effect.
g. Lay the foil over the cardboard, folding overlapping edges to the back.
h. Place the plastic wrap picture over the foil, folding overlapping edges to the back. Tape securely with cellophane tape.
i. As an alternative, cut out the centers of two paper plates, sandwich the plastic wrap between them, staple the edges of the plates together, and trim away any excess plastic wrap. This creates a ''see-through'' effect. Plastic wrap which is very ''stretchy'' works best for this option.
5. Option: Ask the students to design construction paper Sun symbols of their own. Discuss the significance of each completed symbol. Use the symbols for a bulletin board display.
6. Option: After they have created a Sun symbol on paper, students can use paint or markers to transfer their symbols onto smooth rocks.
7. Option: Cut brown paper grocery bags into squares. Ask the students to crumple the paper until it is soft and wrinkled. Using water colors or markers, have the students put their Sun symbols on the brown paper to simulate rock or cave paintings.
8. Option: Allow the students to write their own legends. Suggested topics: how the Sun got into the sky, sunspots, solar eclipses, why we don't see the Sun at night, etc.
B. SUN, MOON AND STAR STORY BOXES
Objectives: Students will explore the different artistic views of the Sun, Moon and stars as expressed by ancient and contemporary cultures. They will re-tell a myth or legend for themselves or to peers, providing practice in storytelling, sequencing, listening, and comprehension.
box, basket, or other appropriate storage container
patterns (for tracing) or pictures of main characters
1 large piece of fabric (about 1 sq. ft.)
scraps of cloth, felt, oaktag
plastic or wood figures, if appropriate
1. Present grade-appropriate factual information on the Moon or stars. Share an astronomical myth, legend, or folktale such as How Coyote Arranged the Night Sky. The full text can be found in They Dance in the Sky, Native American Myths, by J. G. Monroe and R. A. Williamson, 1987.
2. Assemble a story box, as described below.
3. Discuss the origin of the story (historic time, location) and the differences between scientific information and legends.
4. Allow the children (singly or in small groups) access to the story box so that they can use the manipulatives to re-tell the story.
5. Stress that the stories were important to their originators and the story boxes should be treated gently. All small pieces must be wrapped in the background cloth and stored carefully in the box or basket.
6. Allow other options for responding to the story, e.g., drawing, painting, using clay, or writing their own legend.
Assembling the Story Box:
1. Choose a sturdy shoe box, basket, or other container for storing the background cloth and small pieces.
2. Represent key figures and objects in the story with felt cut-outs, pictures glued to tagboard, or small figurines or recycled items. ''Antique'' items from yard sales often lend authenticity to the storytelling. (Patterns for the coyote story characters have been provided.)
3. Choose a piece of fabric to serve as a surface for the manipulatives during the storytelling. Wrap small pieces in this background cloth. Try to choose a color and type of fabric appropriate to the story. A piece of fabric about 1 foot square works well; however, the size really depends on the sizes and numbers of manipulatives included.
4. Assemble the manipulatives, wrap them in the background cloth, and place them in a sturdy box. Label the box with the name of the story (or with representative pictures, if students are not yet reading). Store the box where the students can access it.
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