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Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Feathers, real or synthetic, about ten inches in length
  • Modeling clay
  • Color markers
  • If outdoors: Chalk, or a hula hoop
  • If indoors: Newsprint, scissors, marker, and masking tape

Preparation for Activity

  • Find an open location for this game.
    • If possible, identify a parking lot or sidewalk location where you can play, and draw a chalk circle about three feet in diameter, and a smaller circle inside it.
    • If you will be indoors, cut a large paper circle (about three feet in diameter) from newsprint and tape it to the ground. Draw a smaller circle inside it.

Description of Activity

This game, believed to have originated with the Hopi and Zuni American Indian tribes, invites participants to move and play before the quiet activities of hearing a story and making an art project.

Gather the children at work tables. Tell them they will see one way Hopi and Zuni Indians worked and played together. Tell them the feather toss game was fun to play and trained the Hopi and the Zuni to be accurate throwers, a skill which helped them in hunting and in battle.

Give each child a feather and a bit of clay about the size of a large marble. Have them roll the clay into a ball and push the sharp tip of their feather into the ball so it stays put. Have them mark their feathers with a marker to distinguish theirs from the rest.

If you can be outdoors, this activity is best on a sidewalk or parking lot surface: With chalk, draw a large circle about three feet in diameter and a smaller circle in the center. On grass, use a hula hoop. If unable to go outdoors, use paper taped to the floor with a circle drawn on it.

Invite each participant to toss their feather into the circle. The one closest to the center wins. Depending on time, you might play several rounds. Save a few minutes to process with these questions:

  • What skills might people get better at, if they played this game?
  • Does this game teach patience? How so?

Note how participants responded to their own tosses and to others. Take this opportunity to reflect with the group how they behaved. Affirm positive behavior and gently remind the group of the importance of respectful interaction.

Including All Participants

Choose a location to play the game that is accessible to all participants. As needed, help children roll the clay and set the feather in it. Ask volunteers to help toss the feather, if other children want assistance.

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