A friend and I co-lead an American Girl Doll Club for homeschooled girls ages 8 and up. Each month the girls read a book, we discuss it as well as other issues that arise (we have covered some serious topics!), and we typically do a project or craft inspired by the book of the month. This month we are discussing A Kaya Mystery: The Silent Stranger. One of my favorite aspects of the AG mysteries is the last section of the book where they provide the historical context and tie it into the story. The Silent Stranger is an award-winning book, and as an undergrad I majored in Biological and Sociocultural Anthropology with an emphasis in both Native American Studies and Chicano Studies ... so it's not surprising that I loved this book and the tidbits of information at the end. :)
Example from slide show
In the story, a woman is in shock after losing her husband and infant in a lightning storm. The mystery of what happened to her infant is solved by paying attention to cultural differences between tribes - partly with the help of the differences in cradleboards. I decided to create a short power point presentation on cradleboards, their cultural significance and the variations between tribes as well as images of different cradleboards. I then created a Native American-inspired cradleboard designed to hold an American Girl doll. This cradleboard combines different elements from different tribes (e.g., a Navajo "rainbow" but the Nez Perce teardrop design). If I had a larger budget, I would have used different materials (e.g., faux buckskin for the blanket, faux leather for the ties and strapping) but with only $5 to spend on each one I had to make do, and I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out. When the girls decorate the rainbow piece, they are going to have the option of seed beads or colored beans for the design and feathers or creating interesting pictures (in the vein of mobiles) that will hang down.