How can materials tell the story of how this river crossing changed you?

The day after the Snake River Crossing drama, we asked the students to use materials to reflect on how that experience with the river changed them as the characters they had the chance to play.  Before we even moved to materials, students offered their thinking:

EY:  You might cherish life a little more.  It changed your perception of life.

Materials provide children with the opportunity to find themselves in a state of relaxed alertness and to express their thinking, feelings and emotions.  DO sat down with the watercolors.  He had been the river, and he knew so clearly who he was in the drama:

DO:  We’re this tributary.  We come out of the mountains as snow melt.  Red is the Oregon Trail.  We come from snow melt on a high peak and enter the Snake River at the crossing.  We create a channel.

But when it came to describing how the river crossing changed him, he felt a little lost and called me over to support him.

DO:  It depends on when it was, because I’d have gotten used to it [people walking through me].  At first it might feel weird.

Levia:  Can you show that weird feeling?

DO:  If I paint it.


AW and KB were Nez Perce Indians who guided covered wagon families across the river.

AW:  It was scary but we felt stronger.  People put their lives into our hands.  We were the first Native People to do it.  The only thing we risked but we were also a bit scared.  We were raised up.  They thought we were dirt, but they paid us for the crossing.  That is not what would happen in most lives.  The black staircase shows level after level but not being at the top.

KB:  It gives me money, it gives me a better life, I am respected.  It’s like the president and his body guards.  He is the one person that stands out.

RC to KB:  That looks like it could be on the cover of Time magazine!  Like that image of President Obama that is made up of lots of smaller images.  KB, I think that it’s the other way around.  When you are respected you become different.

KB:  Like that one popular girl in middle school.  It’s like a brick wall with a big spot of pink on it. (Which she then painted:)

RC:  This is mine.

RC:  This dividing line is the river of calm.  How will I show calm?  There is the calm side and the stress side.  When me and BM first got there, we were stressed from our long journey.  When we started making a living we weren’t worried about finding food for the next week.

NF:  They are butterflies.  It’s how I felt before I crossed the river.  The different colors are different emotions.  This is wonder – will I make it?  Will my family make it?  Will our stuff make it?  And this is nerve – I’m nervous to be actually doing this.

ME:   I kept having people step on me—these are all the feet.  I need to move around so people won’t step on me, I don’t like that.

ME (later):  I changed by I wanted to be fiercer, I don’t like to be crossed.  I made a mad face. I want to be more violent.

ME (later):  I changed because it (the crossing) was going to change me, because they would always be bothering the river, taking the water.  It would never be the same.

BM:  I was a ferry operator and I had no Idea how to do it (operate the ferry).  [describing image]  If you put yourself up high, claim to know things, there is a big chance to slip.  If you put yourself lower there is less chance to fall, the rocks are sturdier.

HH:  The crossing brought me closer to my family [emotionally].  I realized it’s easy to lose family and I should appreciate my family while I have them.

HH:  [explaining image}  This was before we went, I felt shy, this is on the way it’s outdoorsy, this is when we reached [destination] I feel upbeat, this is the shock when my father dies, this is me keeping my family.  The rainbow string is me grateful for my family.

MC:  It makes me wonder if there was an easier way to cross.

Carole:  Can you think of how you have changed?

MC:  I need to think ahead more about what might happen in the future, I could have brought more planks, rafts, supplies, etc.

SBM:  I changed because it killed me.  I am showing it black because I hate it.  This is money all I cared about.

Carole:  Right before you died, did you have any regrets?

SBM:  No, my life was good, he was rich — he liked his life.

AW:  Can we publish these?  The whole story of crossing the river?  I mean this was a life changing experience!


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