Fremont Elementary School third-graders sank their hands into American Indian culture on Wednesday to gain an appreciation for the first Thanksgiving.
"Pottery just has something special to it," said Kalee Young, 8, as she molded a piece of clay. "I'm making a pot and I'm going to make some Indian signs on it."
The nearly 100 students spent the day moving through stations which included a display of American Indian artifacts, sand painting, drawing, rock painting and pottery.
"It's been exciting," said Kay Glanzmann, third-grade teacher. "The kids are so eager. I definitely think they'll remember what they've touched and felt and done here."
Teacher Kathy Rothchild explained to the students that, without a written language, American Indians used pictures to tell a story.
"They might write on their clothing. They might write on their teepees," she said. "They would write with pictures the story that was happening."
Afterward, students were given a mixture of rice, beans, popcorn and macaroni to fashion their own pictographs.
"Think about what the early Americans might have used to make a picture," Rothchild urged.
Claire Albertson, 9, decided to make a sun. She said she enjoyed the presentations throughout the day, but already knew most of what was being taught.
"I'm Native American," she said. And she was pleased to see her classmates learning more about her culture.
"For P. J. Vasquez, 8, the best part was drawing pictures with sand.
"You get to use this stuff that's like made out of stone," he said. "It's really cool. I made a design of a sun and clouds that are raining."
Students also learned to value other cultures and be sensitive to their beliefs.
"You could meet somebody who's Native American, and you don't want to say anything that could offend them," explained Desiree Beaumont, 8. "If you talk about Father Sun or Mother Earth in a rude way, that could make them mad."
Kalee saw a more personal connection.
"Another thing is it can be a part of you, Indian culture could become a part of yourself,."