How The Raven Stole The Sun: In 30 Minutes with 30 Kids!

For reasons unbeknownst to me and my fellow teaching artists at The School, the director decided to add a “multicultural focus” to the curriculum this year.  She chose four different “countries” (presumably at random) and asked us to incorporate each of these “countries” into our lesson plans.

I’m putting the word “countries” in quotes because initially, The School’s director had chosen Alaska as one of the four.  When her assistant informed her that Alaska is not a country but a state, they put their heads together and decided upon the Inuit Nation instead.

(Because, yeah, that makes sense—let’s try to get a bunch of preschoolers to understand one of the most highly contested “nations” of the northern hemisphere.)

Nonetheless, I was pretty excited about the multicultural focus at first.  We spent the fall talking about Diwali, yoga and all things India and I’ve already begun collection resources for South Africa (which we’ll tie into the Black History Month concert) and Greece (which will result in some sort of Olympic-inspired graduation ceremony at the end of the school year, complete with competitive bean bag passing, tunnel crawling and balance bean walking).

With India, however, it was easy.  And even though I’m less of an expert on South Africa, I’m pretty sure that South Africa and Greece will be easy too.  Why?  Well, these countries have a lot going on in the music and dance department.

The Inuit Nation?  Not so much.

Which is not to say that the Inuit don’t have a rich cultural heritage—they do—but it’s not one that’s easily translated to preschoolers.

Fortunately, yesterday’s Inuit-inspired Winter Song Fest (in which we told Inuit folk tale How the Raven Stole the Sun, thanks to the advice of my Jomar shopping buddy and fellow Dance Anthropologist) went off without a hitch.  Given the lack of preschooler-friendly Inuit music, my students danced to a compilation of “Deep Breathing” yoga tracks, Mozart and a lullaby tribute to Dave Matthews Band (which was pretty kick *ss if I do say so myself).

Here’s a shot from the show:

Our "arctic" set, complete with The Raven and The Sun, which the kids made themselves

15 Responses to “How The Raven Stole The Sun: In 30 Minutes with 30 Kids!”

  1. Zak

    I’m curious about this Raven story now. Gotta go googling…

    Is that you in the second pic? We need more “action” shots like this. It looks like you’re either praying or telling them to do the wave. Love it!

    Reply
    • Kat Richter

      Yep, that’s me 🙂 I was actually trying to signal the kids to kneel down, thus finishing their dance, but they were so into those scarves they kept right on going!

      Reply
      • Zak

        Ms. D’s students had a small show or whatever describing how a seed turns into a plant, flowers, turns back into seeds, etc. This was a short, 5 minute skit during the science fair. They kept missing small things, and standing right next to her I could feel the oh god, oh god, get down, no, not you, you, up! her, down, please, oh god, well, at least they’re not saying anything wrong… yet without her saying a word.

        Must be fun – and tiring – working with so many little kids. I’m jealous.

        Reply
  2. chauffeur

    Zak, I think Kat was getting the parents and fans in the crowd to do the wave, LOL

    Reply
  3. Laurie Block Spigel

    This Raven tale one of my favorite stories from the Northwest! It is a tale of transformation, and light! And that Raven is a trickster. You’ve got to keep an eye on him! I love the photos of your students’ performance. Way to go, you fabulous dance teacher you!

    Last summer I took an intensive course on storyteller theater using folktales and nursery rhymes, and I am working on organizing a course of this nature for homeschoolers in NYC. I confess that I have developed a maddening thirst for folktales from around the world. Most recently I used the Anansi stories from West Africa with a student, and enjoyed them tremendously. If you find yourself in the city again, come and visit. We’ll share some stories!

    Reply
    • Kat Richter

      Yeah, the kids LOVED the story. One of my 5-year olds asked, “How did the raven transform?” I was majorly impressed that he used the word transform correctly and in a complete sentence 🙂 Your new course sounds great! I’ll definitely get in touch the next time I’m NY bound (and not quite as pressed for time as I was for the NBC shoot!)

      Reply
  4. sarahnsh

    I love the pictures of the kids doing the ‘darkness dance’, it looks like they are having fun with the pieces of black fabric. The polar bear hunt is pretty cute too!

    Reply
    • Kat Richter

      Yeah, the music teacher did this AMAZING drum suite with one of the classes– I’d only seen them practice part of it before the show and they totally blew me away when they did the whole thing.

      Reply
  5. Lost in France

    We are going on a bear hunt was one of my daughters favourite book for years I can not remember how many times I read it.
    Show looks great.
    I would be somewhat worried that a school director chose Alaska as another country.
    Show looks great, I particularly like the sun.

    Reply
  6. Landlord

    It was very cute and nicely put together despite the obstacles 😉 Looking forward to the other two performances or rather “assessment showcases”…

    Reply
  7. school dance

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