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School Curricula

Passage to Schools:

The K-12 curricula linked to The Sculpture Project: Passage of Wind and Water are not art lessons. Instead, these lessons use a significant, local work of public art as a catalyst to build students’ engagement with their school day and to create deeper understandings across disciplines. Their value proposition is that art is a way of making meaning and forging connections. Built on the principles of observation, reflection and original thinking, the lessons are designed to reach every student in different ways and to increase capacities for imagination and innovation.

The lessons address specific Common Core State Standards for language arts, although information from other content areas is included.  Several of the lessons also address South Dakota Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings and Standards, which contain essential learning about Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota culture.

Passage to Schools lessons have been developed in coordination with Rapid City High School teacher and Sculpture Project Advisory Committee member, Gabrielle Seeley. Mrs. Seeley is the 2012 Rapid City Public Schools Foundation Golden Apple Award winner and two-time winner of the Rapid City Academy Teacher of the Year Award. She is also a member of the Rapid City Arts Council Board of Directors.

Use this 4-minute video by Randall Iverson as an introduction to The Sculpture Project for your students.

Lesson Titles and Descriptions

Field Trips! (K-12+)
This lesson provides text for students to read before the day of a field trip to Main Street Square, critical thinking activities to work on while exploring The Sculpture Project: Passage of Wind and Water, and a graphic organizer for students to use in preparing for a discussion when they are back in the classroom. Download Field Trips!

We Show Our Thinking (K-5)
Students read informational text about the importance of showing others their original thinking. Using a graphic organizer, students learn the value of each thinker and of appreciating the thinking of others. They can prepare for a peer discussion of their thoughts about learning on a second, included graphic. Download We Show Our Thinking

We Share With Others (K-2)
This lesson guides students in an exploration of what it means to share. As The Sculpture Project asks the local community to explore shared values, this lesson uses text from ethnologist and Lakota scholar Ella Cara Deloria to help students think about the value of generosity and how people share and pass on their values. Download We Share With Others

We Eat Food From Nature (K-2)
The Sculpture Project asks people to consider their connections to nature. In this lesson, students are encouraged to think about their own connections to nature by reading both informational and primary source text about how Lakota people have gathered and eaten food grown in nature. Download We Eat Food From Nature

We Learn From Animals (K-2)
With this lesson, students think about what animals can teach us about personal responsibility. The Sculpture Project invites us to think about the connection between people and nature. In this lesson students read an historical text by Luther Standing Bear and think about their behavioral connections to animals. Download We Learn From Animals

Preserving Shared Values (3-5)
As a work of public art, Passage of Wind and Water invites us to think about our community’s shared values. This lesson draws a parallel to storytelling and the role of oral history in helping people understand and pass on Oceti Sakowin culture. “Preserving Shared Values” includes original text from ethnologist and Lakota scholar Ella Cara Deloria. Download Preserving Shared Values

Food From Nature (3-5)
“Food from Nature” uses Passage of Wind and Water as a starting point for a discussion about people’s connections with nature. The lesson explores how people connect with nature through food grown outdoors. An excerpt from a 1933 text by Luther Standing Bear highlights the Oceti Sakowin people’s historical knowledge of natural food sources. Students make inferences about text and support their conclusions with reasoning and examples. Download Food From Nature

Observing Animals (3-5)
This lesson begins with sculptor Masayuki Nagase’s visual themes, wind and water, and asks students to think about the connections with nature that they share with animals. Students read an excerpt from Luther Standing Bear’s My Indian Boyhood and are asked to think about what animals and people have in common. Critical thinking activities, vocabulary support, and a graphic organizer for discussion preparation are all included. Download Observing Animals

Project Overview Lesson (6-12)
This lesson includes informational text about the The Sculpture Project: Passage of Wind and Water and includes critical thinking activities and a graphic organizer to strengthen student discussion about both the reading and about the project overall. Download Project Overview Lesson.

Lakota Connections with Nature (6-12)
In this lesson, students read a piece of informational text which includes an excerpt of a primary source document by Luther Standing Bear. Questions requiring critical thinking and textual analysis are provided, as is a graphic organizer to help students prepare for meaningful discussions. Download Lakota Connections with Nature.

Linking Poetry with Public Art (6-12)
Here, students engage with poetry from Matsuo Basho, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Billy Mills and Octavio Paz that spans three centuries and four distinct cultures. Students are supported with questions that require them to think critically and analytically about the texts; the graphic organizer leads to a discussion of students' own metacognition. Download Linking Poetry with Public Art.

Oceti Sakowin Kinship Systems (6-12)
This lesson uses excerpts from ethnographer Ella Cara Deloria's text, Waterlily, along with informational text to give students an understanding of the benefits and responsibilities inherent in Lakota kinship systems. Rich in high-level vocabulary, this lesson includes critical thinking questions and discussion preparation support. Download Oceti Sakowin Kinship Systems.

Thinking about Natural Forces (6-12)
Students use informational text and unbiased information to think about natural forces in new ways; an excerpt of a Lakota origin story engages students in considering the value of origin stories from all cultures. Included are a graphic organizer about natural forces and questions requiring personal observations and literary analysis. Download Thinking about Natural Forces.

Ancient Granite (6-12)
In this lesson, students learn about the origin of the granite used in the project: they consider its age, do some mathematical thinking, and read scientific text about granite formation. Discussion support and critical thinking questions are included. Download Ancient Granite.

Learning from Elders (6-12)
The Sculpture Project helps people think about nature and culture in new ways. In this lesson, text by Luther Standing Bear helps students learn about the traditional Oceti Sakowin teaching process based in a dynamic exchange between young people and elders focused on observation and teaching by example. Includes critical thinking questions and a graphic organizers. Download Learning from Elders.

To arrange a school visit to The Sculpture Project: Passage of Wind and Water at Main Street Square, or for more information about the curricula, contact Destination Rapid City’s Community Arts Coordinator Anna Huntington at

Curriculum is made possible in part from a grant from the South Dakota Arts Council. SDAC support is provided with funds from the State of South Dakota, through the Department of Tourism, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Rapid City Public School Foundation and Black Hills Community Bank also support the curriculm project.

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