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December 04, 2013

Taan's Moons: Explore

Artist Kiki van der Heiden and writer Alison Gear worked with 70 children on Haida Gwaii children for the Taan's Moons project, an exploration of the traditional Haida ways of describing the months of the year. The children are engaged in language arts activities including felt board stories, memory card games and writing exercises, as well as math exercises, movement, drama and many felting and drawing activities. Photographer Jason Shafto is documenting the process. Artist Kiki van der Heiden shares her story with us...

Read Kiki van der Heiden's previous post about Taan's Moons.


During the month of October, Alison Gear and I spent one full day at each of the six elementary schools of Haida Gwaii for the Taan's Moons project. We brought lots of different activities to the classrooms to make the children familiar with different elements of the Taan's Moons story. It is a story of the traditional Haida way of telling time, told through the eyes of a bear.

Our second session at the schools was an action packed day filled with fun activities exploring different elements of the Taan's Moons story. The following is a largely visual overview of these days at the schools. Photography by Jason Shafto.

Alison created flash cards, a memory game and a felt board story to introduce the Haida names of the moons (months).

Each session we start by 'warming up our imagination' and we literally move through the months and the story.

Tyler Crosby and four students from the Haida youth dance group taught bear, eagle and raven songs, dances and let the children drum.

Outdoor story-related games:

Based on the childrens' drawings, the students created many different felted elements, such as berries, roots, seaweed, branches and felted squares. These will be used in the large felted moons we will create during our next sessions at the schools in November.

Introduction to different types of sheep and samples of the different kinds of wool:

Felting berries:

Making felted roots, branches and seaweed:

Making felt squares with designs of bear prints in the snow, blossoms, crab and salmon:

End of the day Show and Tell of an intertidal felt piece that I created for Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve (thank you for letting us use it with the children!):

This fun day was made possible with the help of all the teachers, students and volunteers. A big Ha'awa ("thank you" in Haida) to all of them! Our next session will be the creation of the large felted moons. Thirteen in total! Stay tuned!

Read Kiki van der Heiden's next post about Taan's Moons.


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