Adventures in Making Drummer Ornaments

This past week was Inupiaq Days at Shishmaref School.  We suspended our normal academic classes and taught traditional food preparation, arts, and dancing.  Now, you may assume that as a white girl from Idaho I had little to offer Inupiaq Days, but you'd be WRONG.  I was very involved thanks to the following saga:

In February I took a group of five students from our district to Juneau (Alaska's one and only state capital) for the Alaska Close Up program.  We observed the state legislature, state courts, visited the governor's house, etc.  The above picture is us visiting our state senator Donny Olson.  It was an amazing week.  We learned a lot and had tons of fun.

The girl in the back left (wearing the gray sweatshirt) is Daphne.  We were shopping in Juneau, and she saw a cute little ornament depicting an Eskimo drummer.  She pointed it out to me and told me she could probably teach kids how to make it during Inupiaq Days.  That sounded like a super idea to me, so I bought the ornament.


Daphne and I brought the ornament home, and she cut it up and used it to make a pattern.


We scrounged for materials, and she made her own version.  I think it turned out cuter than the original.  (I heart the cute little face!)  The fur around the face is otter fur.  Daphne sews a lot of slippers and mittens, so she used some of her scraps to make the fur ruff.


The ornament was supposed to look like an Eskimo drummer.  The above picture is of some actual Eskimo drummers.  You can see their flat circular drums and long thin sticks.  I think the adorable ornament is a pretty accurate depiction.


Our next step was to simplify the project so that fifty third through sixth graders could complete it.  Daph and I decided that we needed to trace and cut out all of the pieces.  In case you were wondering, that was A TON OF WORK!  Multiply any little project by fifty, and it's a lot.  We spent about fifteen hours cutting out all the little pieces and gluing parts of them together (resulting in a very messy classroom and a nasty burn on my left thumb).  We even threaded the needles so they were all ready for the kids.


The kids loved the project!  They thought the ornaments were super cute, and they were excited to make one (even the boys!).


Daph did a great job helping the kiddos.  We both spent a lot of time tying knots, untangling thread, and helping the kids use the glue guns.  We taught three different groups of about fifteen students.  After our first group Daphne said, "Holy cow.  Real lots of work!"  Now she knows what it's like to be a teacher!  🙂


Overall, it was a very successful project.  Daph was an excellent planner, preparer, and leader.  The kids had a good time, and their ornaments turned out great!


As much fun as the whole process was, it left me quite exhausted.  So exhausted that I fell asleep in the English room during the basketball games.  (My compliments to the girls who figured out how to use my camera...)

Inupiaq Days was filled with a thousand other adventures (and a fieldtrip!), so stay tuned...