The many ways to make dreamcatchers:
- Paper Plates
- Twine or String
- Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
- Feathers (two for each plate)
- Glue (optional)
- Pictures of Indigenous Peoples in the Americas Pictographs (for reference)
- Prepare the supplies
- Cut a circle out of the middle of a paper plate by folding the plate in half, and following the line of the inner circle of the plate. With the plate still folded in half, punch holes around the inner ring through both layers of the plate, then unfold. Cut pieces of twine or string (about 1ft) for each paper plate.
- Practice drawing indigenous people in the Americas pictographs
- Show a finished Dream Catcher to the class and talk about the significance of Dream Catchers and Indigenous Peoples in the Americas Pictographs. Pass a piece of paper out to each student. Pass around examples of Indigenous People in the Americas Pictographs, and have students copy the examples and draw symbols of their own.
- Decorate the dreamcatchers
- After the students are finished practicing drawing different Pictographs, pass a prepared paper plate to each student. Have the students write their names on the back, and then color and decorate the front with their Pictographs.
- Weave the dreamcatchers
- Tie a knot with one piece of twine or string through a hole in the paper plates, leaving some length hanging (to tie a feather). Pull the string across the center of the plate, through a hole on the opposite side, never crossing the string over the ring of the plate. Repeat until the string has been woven through each hole of the plate and finishing with the hole next to the one you started with. Tie a knot to the last hole. (If there is not enough length left to tie a second feather, you may knot a shorter length of twine through the last hole of the plate).
- Attach the feathers
- Glue or knot two feathers to the two ends of twine hanging. Hang by bedside to keep nightmares away!
- Paper plates
- Cut 9 slits around the paper plate
- Put the yarn in one slit and pull the end underneath.
- Pull the longer half of the yarn across the plate to pull it through the opposite slit.
- Then pull the yarn up through the slit to either the right or left of this one, and then take it to the opposite slit of that one.
- Continue this pattern until all slits have yarn in them: Ex. opposite, left, opposite, left, opposite, left
- Tie the ends underneath.
- Now you can begin weaving!
- We had students tie a piece of yarn to the center of the yarned plate they had already set-up.
- Starting from the middle, weave around the plate going over one string and under another.
- You can add beads along the way.
- You can also alternate yarn colors, but be sure to tie the new string to the starting spot before you start weaving.
- Once your plate is finished, you can adorn some feathers.
Traditionally, a dreamcatcher is formed into a ring using pliable bark, which is then held together by some fiber. I modified this design and used paper plates instead. I prepared the plates ahead of class by cutting out a circle in the center. Using a hole puncher I made two different sets of dreamcatcher rings. Each had a specific amount of holes with a number pattern. Students had to weave through the holes following the numbers to create a star shape in their dream catcher.
This was definitely a challenging project. I was so happy to see the students rise up to it and try their best! Since this group is such a wide age range I also gave all of the students the option of making whatever design they wanted to. However, a majority of the students tried to follow the layouts I gave them. Students who completed their weaving added embellishments with beads and feathers.
Title/Description: Dream Catchers
Level: Elementary School
Duration: One 45-minute class period
Historical Overview: Indigenous Peoples in the Americas tribes and legends
Goals and Objectives: To introduce and explore a Indigenous Peoples in the Americas legend
Materials: Paper plates, yarn, pony beads, feathers, paper, pencils, markers/crayons
- Anticipatory Set: Discuss Indigenous Peoples in the Americas legends and the “Story of Creation of the Maidu Indians.”
- Have students write about a dream they had and how to protect themselves from bad dreams. Introduce the legend of the dream catcher.
- Cut out center of paper plate.
- Punch approximately twelve holes in plate.
- Design pattern and color with markers or crayons.
- String yarn across plate (do not go over outer edge). Add pony beads if desired.
- Tie streamers and feathers to sides and/or bottom.