Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Citation: Sloat, T. (2004). Berry Magic. Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Books.
Berry Magic tells an ancient Inuit origin story of how the variety of berries came to the tundra. Long ago, only little black crowberries existed on the tundra, and even though they did not taste very good, they still would be picked in order to make akutaq (Inuit ice cream) for the fall feast. A woman named Anana had an idea on how to fix this situation. She created four little dolls dressed in fur parkas, clothed in red, blue, orange and rose. She then brought these dolls up a nearby hill in the middle of the night and one by one called each doll out of her bag. Each doll that emerged from her bag had become a young girl, and with each joyous leap they took over the rolling hills of the tundra, blueberries, cranberries, salmonberries, and raspberries would magically emerge. Now there were enough berries for the fall feast and everyone could not get enough of the delicious berry-filled akutaq.
3-5 year olds will greatly enjoy this magical tale as each page is filled with bold and colourful illustrations that make you feel as if you are in every scene with Anana. Young children also get to learn about Inuit culture by learning about their customs, climate, clothing, and language. Throughout the text, some Inuit terms are used (and explained in English). The portion of the story when Anana calls the dolls she created out of her bag one by one, she sings “Atsa-ii-yaa Atsa-ii-yaa Atsaukina!” and the students can definitely join in each time. This is a great and enchanting story that will evoke children’s’ curiosities and wonder.
Background and Provocations
1.) Bring in four dolls dressed in parkas (or you can draw them, make them out of felt, etc.) to display in the classroom before reading the story.
2.) You can show pictures of the tundra and have some discussion about the people that live there, the climate, types of animals and plants that live and grow there, etc.
3.) After checking the dietary restrictions of the students, you can bring in the different berries mentioned in the story for the children to taste.
Presenting the Story
1.) Felt Story – the pieces you need for this story include green hills, Anana, four dolls (clothed in red, blue, orange and rose), the four dolls as young girls after emerging from Anana’s bag, Anana’s bag, blueberries, cranberries, salmonberries, raspberries (the number of each type of berry should be enough to decorate the green hill) and a bowl of akutaq.
2.) Props – the story can be told through the use of props. The props can be kept in a bag that looks similar to Anana’s bag. With the children gathered around, you can begin telling the story orally and as the story continues take out the props at the appropriate times. What you can use as props include the four dolls, the four types of berries, and a bowl of akutaq. When you take out the berries, you can also offer each student a berry to taste.
3.) Acting it Out with Props – you can have one student be Anana and allow her to carry around Anana’s bag. Prompt the student to take out each doll when they are being made and place them in her bag. When the student climbs the hill with the “heavy” bag, you can replace the bag with a blanket and have four other students underneath the blanket. Have the entire class sing “Atsa-ii-yaa Atsa-ii-yaa Atsaukina!” to prompt the students underneath the blanket to come out one by one and they can dance, hop, skip, etc. spreading their berries all over the tundra. At the end of the story, the students can pretend that they are having a feast and enjoying bowls of akutaq.
Some wonders that can be included while reading the story include:
· I wonder what Anana is thinking (p 4)
· I wonder how she learned to make these beautiful dolls (p 8)
· I wonder why Anana’s bag is getting heavier as she climbs the hill (p 13)
· I wonder how amazing the tundra must look from the top of the hill (p 23)
1.) Recipe - There is a recipe on the last page of the book on how to make akutaq. After checking with the students’ dietary restrictions, you can make akutaq together as a class.
2.) Stories and Discussion - More Inuit origin stories can be read and discussions can take place about Inuit culture with the children.
3.) Art Activity – allow the children to make their own magical dolls. We can sew two felt pieces together and fill with stuffing to create a basic doll. We can also precut clothing pieces for the parkas and allow the children to decorate the parkas with other pieces of felt, felt markers, etc.