Science, Math

KEEPERS OF LIFE: DISCOVERING PLANTS THROUGH NATIVE AMERICAN STORIES AND ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN, Joseph Bruchac and Michael J. Caduto, Fulcrum Publishing, 350 Indiana Street, Suite 350, Golden CO 80401, 800-992-2908. 288 pages, many black and white illustrations mostly by Mohawk artist Kahiones (John Fadden) and his son David. ISBN 1-55591-186-2, $22,.95, teacher's Guide $9.95, ISBN 1-55591-187-0 Grades 1-6.

This is the third of the 3 native-centered science "Keepers" books by Bruchac and Caduto. Bruchac is a well-known Abenaki storyteller, author of a number of children's books of myths and legends from many tribes. Caduto is a non-Indian ecologist and educator, who has received the New ngland Award for Excellence in Environmental Education. He holds an M.S. in Natural Resources/Environmental Education from th University of Michigan and is senior education fellow with the Atlantic Center for the Environment.

The philosophy of this book continues that of its predecessors, and is summarized at the beginning of Chapter 2: "It can be said that story and myth carry the wisdom of the collective subconscious of th world down through the ags. This wisdom, derived from cultural experiences that are part of the universal human condition, teaches us how to live, to integrate our lives into society and to exist in balance as part of an ecological community. Myth helps us realize the wonder and mystery of the universe, shows us the nature of the world around us and illuminates our place in the social order.

"Science brings to light the knowledge gathered by the collctive consciousness of humanity up to the present time. By explaining how the universe functions, science increases our understanding of nature and human nature. Scince tells us how it all works but does not answer the universal question 'What is it?' Science tells us how hearts beat, but myth helps us understand why."

The stories are integratd into the science teachings of this book as a way of enlisting imagination -- generally ignored in education today -- in a wholistic approach to science education. The teacher's guide for this book shows how this is being done for an entire year's classwork at the third grade level of a private elementary school in the Bronx. This third of the Keepers series provids activities and lessons that may be extracted and adapted to elementary and Middle School grades for a part of science education that is wholistic, but is good science also. Some of the activities are suitable for younger children, so more suitable for Middle School children, where they may be used -- togethr with selections from Keepers of th Animals in partial fullfillment of Life Science requirements.

Topics include species, biomes, habitats, plant evolution, ecology and ecosystems, stewardship. Thse general topics are applied to specific plants, habitats, and environments in successive chapters at different levels (for different age groups). The final chapter considers urban environments and plant communities, and ends with cooperation and human community considerations. It is recommended that teachers use the Teacher's Guide as well as the main book. The stories are also presented separately in less-expensive paperback form, so that all children in a class can read them. A 2-cassette tape set presents Bruchac reading these stories. It is rcommended that science teachers obtain all thse materials well in advance, in order to prepare lesson plans using appropriate activities, and to photocopy handout materials such as maps and diagrams. Reviewed by Paula Giese

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Native Plant Stories; Joseph Bruchac, Michael J. Caduto; Paperback; $10.36 -- these are the traditional stories, in a paperback, that are included in Keepers of Life, which functions as a teacher's handbook. There is also a Teacher's Guide (from the publisher only).

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Native American BOOKS, text and graphics copyright Paula Giese, 1996

Last Updated: 6/6/97