CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 27. . . .March 15, 2013
Keepers of the Earth is an excellent school resource introducing children to Aboriginal world views. The book is comprised of 21 story packages which may be used as teaching tools in the classroom.
The stories are divided by subject nature and include three stories about creation, two about fire, one about the earth, one about wind and weather, three about water, two about sky, one about seasons, six about plants and animals, one about life, death, and spirits, and about the unity of earth.
Each traditional story acknowledges the First Nations culture in which the story originated. An accompanying map helps readers situate where these different cultural groups traditionally resided. The stories are typically one to three pages long, making them ideal for sharing in the oral tradition. The stories are accompanied by beautiful black and white ink drawings, artistically representing the events and characters in each story. Following each story is a discussion prompt to help teachers explain the story’s context. The discussion prompts relate the story to First Nations traditional world views and emphasize mankind’s interconnection with the natural world.
Following the discussion prompts, there is a list of questions to encourage student reflection. Some of the questions are focussed more on story comprehension while others encourage children to reflect on the greater meaning of the story and how it relates to their daily life.
Once a story has been shared and students have reflected on the story via class discussion, Keepers of the Earth offers suggestions for activities to solidify and expand the learning of the story. Activity suggestions include field trips, demonstrations, experimentation and further discussion. Each story is accompanied by at least one activity with recommendations as to which age group to cater the activity to. While most of the activities seem directed at grades 3-8, there are many activities that could suit the needs of older or younger children with little or no modification. The activities section is often accompanied with black and white diagrams or photographs to help convey the activity details and execution.
Keepers of the Earth is an excellent teacher resource that guides learning opportunities through the medium of storytelling and personal experience. The beginning of the book actually includes two chapters to help guide teachers in the use of this book. The book also includes a glossary and pronunciation guide, and a subject index, making this a versatile resource which could easily be incorporated into basic science lessons, social studies lessons, or language arts lessons. Readers may have seen this title published back in 1989. The book is essentially the same, with slight modification of the cover. If you have not had a chance to acquire the earlier edition, I recommend picking up a copy of this reprint.
Rachel Yaroshuk is a Masters of Library and Information Studies student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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