1/23/2013 10:13:00 AM Native American tribe models created by Waterville Elementary students on display at Effigy Mounds National Monument the next two weekends
by Sharon Sander-Palmer freelance writer
Excitement is in the air for the first and second grade class at Waterville Elementary School, which has been asked to display their Native American tribe models at Effigy Mounds National Monument the last weekend in January and the first weekend in February. The children made the models in December as part of a two-week Native American Tribe unit within the social studies curriculum. Teacher Kelly Liddiard says the children were put into mixed grade groups and given a different tribe to research. She gave them books, articles and unit resources such as “a day in the life of a Native American child”, and use of the internet, for them to research information on traditional homes, foods, jobs, location, plus anything else they found interesting. The children were also asked to compare the tribes’ traditional life to theirs today. “Initially I was going to get the children to find pictures and do a poster board presentation of their tribe, but after I told them my son Nathan, who’s in fifth grade at St. Patrick School, had made a model, they asked if they could build villages too,” says Liddiard. “They are awesome and I was totally amazed that they came up with such elaborate ideas and that first and second graders could do something this creative.” The models caught the eye of parent and Effigy Mounds Chief Ranger, Bob Palmer. “These models are really creative and are very cool,” he says. “They were not originally made for public display, but when I saw my little boy working so hard on his and learned how much effort the kids put into creating them, not to mention the scope of what they were learning, I wanted the National Park Service to acknowledge and support their efforts by offering to display them. Mrs. Liddiard is to be thanked for her willingness to work with us, and should be commended for her creative integration of art into the social studies curriculum.” The models will be part of the art display held in conjunction with the Annual Effigy Mounds Winter Film Festival which began January 5 and runs through the last weekend in March. This year’s film festival theme is based on the 50th Anniversary of the festival, and each weekend films that feature events from the 1950s and 1960s will be shown along with artwork displays in the visitor center by area school children and local artists. Effigy Mounds Park Ranger Maria Wenzel organized most of the school and professional displays for the festival. “The art is a very popular part of the film festival and people love to see the kids' work,” she says. “We have a whole variety of artwork from paintings to pottery, but this is one of the few times we have had models on display. I think they are wonderful, the leaves, canoes and the little characters - it is just fun to see how they (the children) see things and what they have created from what they have learned about Native Americans.” When asked what they think of their models being on display, Liddiard says the children are very excited and yelled out “we’re famous, we’re famous, we’re going to Effigy Mounds.’” She says it was just great to watch them (the children) get so excited about what they were doing and, as they didn’t pick their group, to also watch them work with other students they wouldn’t normally partner with. “This is one of the many benefits of having a mixed grade,” she adds, “and when I asked them what the best bit about the project was, they all really liked being the teacher, standing in front of the class taking turns telling their classmates about their tribe.” The exhibition of art at the film festival is not a new concept at Effigy Mounds. Chief Ranger Palmer recalled seeing his own artwork on display at the Park as part of one of the film festival art displays in the 1970s. “I remember doing this sort of thing for art class when I was in Junior High,” says Palmer. “There were some really wonderful and neat things that were created by talented people and while my creation at the time certainly didn’t fall into either the ‘wonderful’ or ‘neat’ category, it was a big deal to come down to Effigy Mounds with my family and see something that I had created on display at a National Park site,” he says. “I’m sure in another 50 years some of these young first or second graders will look back at this exhibit with the same fond memories so many of us from this community have of our own ‘moment in the sun’ at the Effigy Mounds National Monument Film Festival Art Display.” As well as art from the Allamakee Community School District, other schools that will have artwork on display include MFL/MarMac Community Schools, Clayton Ridge High School and Prairie Catholic School. Artists include Eugene Dale, Susie Tegge and an Emma Big Bear display by Terry Landsgaard. Showing the first weekend the Waterville students' models are on display is the film Amazing Events: The Great Salmon Run, where a half billion salmon travel 3,000 miles to return to spawn in the rivers where they were born, followed the next weekend with Untamed Americas: Deserts, a National Geographic look at life, death, familiar creatures and scientific revelations. Silos & Smokestacks photo contest winners will also be on display alongside the models from Waterville Elementary School. The films are shown at 10 and 11 a.m., 12 noon, and 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and at 1 p.m. Mondays. The Visitors Center at Effigy Mounds is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There is no charge to view the films or art display.
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