Posted by: ad65shorty | November 18, 2009

Native Americans: Clothing


As you may remember, the Pilgrims wore as many clothes as possible! The Wampanoag Indians, on the other hand, wore hardly any! They decorated themselves with beads, seashells, paint, and bear grease. They made their clothing from animal skins, such as buffalo and deer. The women made clothes for their own family. They wore dresses and sometimes leggings. During the warm weather, or when hunting or fighting, the men would wear only a strip of leather around their waists (called a breechcloth) and a pair of moccasins. Boys did not wear clothing in the warm weather until they were 8 years old!

Since you really can’t have your children run around naked or with breechcloths, you can teach them about head dresses. Different Native American tribes have different customs, but one that they all share is that of wearing feathers. Feather head dresses were a sign of warrior status. For many tribes, each feather represented how many enemies a person had killed, which was a sign of bravery. The more feathers, the higher his rank. These feathers were a source of pride for those wearing them.

Once again, let me recommend this picture book to help you teach your children more about the Wampanoag Indians.


Have your child make a “head dress.” Cut a strip of paper long enough to fit your child’s head. Have your child decorate the band. Although we didn’t do it for this one, I like to provide shape cut-outs for the kids to use to glue onto their band (always reinforcing learning!). Then, have them glue on feathers (real or fake).  My students used to run around telling me how many enemies they had fought! 🙂

To tie this into Wednesday’s theme of “Dramatic Play,” have your children choose if they want to be a Pilgrim or a Wampanoag Indian, make the appropriate hat, and let them play. They could act out the First Thanksgiving, or the Indians teaching the Pilgrims how to survive…

Here’s a simple costume I made for my children for the “feast” at school. I promise, it’s simple. I am a beginner sewer.

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