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Interpretive Program Catalog for School Groups

at Van Meter State Park

Missouri’s American Indian Cultural Center at Van Meter State Park houses both permanent and temporary displays that interpret the cultural history of the resident tribes of Missouri. These include the Otoe-Missouria, Osage, Delaware, Ioway, Ilini-Peoria, Kanza, Kickapoo, Sac and Fox, and Shawnee. In addition, William Clark, Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1813, is interpreted. Temporary displays also interpret various cultural and natural aspects of American Indians, Van Meter State Park and Missouri.

Programs at the park will either be conducted in the cultural center or in the picnic area, depending on their nature. Two to three classes can be accommodated in the cultural center, while additional groups go to other areas of the park, including the picnic area's two shelter houses. It is preferred that school groups come to the park for programs due to the amount and sizes of material required to give quality programs. 

Staff at the center is small. However, handling multiple classes or groups in one day is possible with assistance from the teachers or group leaders. Four programs at a time in a rotating schedule is the maximum amount that park staff can accommodate. This rotating schedule will usually involve one or more teacher-guided activities. 

Interpretive programs listed in this catalog can be scheduled for your class or group. The length of each program has a minimum-maximum range that depends on your group's age range, group size and amount of participation. Programs that are or can be teacher-guided are indicated right after the title of the program. For teachers, the Show-Me Standards are in ( ) at the end of each description.

Van Meter State Park has several hiking trails that can be led by the teacher or group leader. See the park’s trails page. The park also has a small playground in its picnic area, as well as two shelter houses.

Please call the cultural center at 660-886-7537 to schedule a program for your class or group.  It is recommended that you call at least two weeks in advance. 

LITTLE FEATHER

(Elementary; 30-45 minutes)

This is a program of everyday life of the Missouria Indians before European Contact. It begins with a six-minute DVD about a mythical Missouria Indian girl named Little Feather. Following the story will be a question-and-answer time in front of the lodge display, using some artifacts and other materials that were mentioned in the presentation.  These items will be shown to the children, with some being passed around for them to get a better look or feel of the items. (This program can only be given at the park, not off-site.) 

(CA-5, CA-6, SC-4, SC-8, SS-5, SS-6) 

PIECES, PARTS and POOP

(Elementary to Adult; 30-45 minutes)

See how American Indians used the bison (buffalo) as a "superstore on hoof."  It is an activity where the participants will match modern day items with items American Indians made from all parts of the bison, inside and out. Participants will compare and contrast items and may give a brief informal presentation about their item.

(SC-3, SC-8, SS-2, SS-6, CA-6) 

MATCH THAT MAMMAL

(Elementary; 30-45 minutes)

Participants see, identify and feel several of the mammals (skins only - no live mammals) that either live now or have lived in Missouri in the past. Participants are given a picture of a mammal with its name and other information about it. Each participant is asked to find the mammal hide and potentially tell the rest of the group something about that mammal based on what they see in the picture or have read from the information.

(SC-3, CA-5, CA-6)

MAMMAL SCAVENGER HUNT 

(Middle School - Adult; 30-45 minutes)

This is a more advanced version of Match That Mammal. Participants are given some questions (one for each mammal) and must decide which animal best answers the question. The skins are set out with their identification cards already matched. The participants must read the information for each mammal to decide which mammal answers each question.

(SC-3, SC-8, CA-5, CA-6)

WHAT DID THE MISSOURIA INDIANS EAT? 

(Upper Middle School - Adult; 45-60 minutes) 

This is a paleoethnobotany program designed to explain how the Missouria Indians grew and processed their garden foods and wild edibles.  It is based on research from the book Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden and actual archaeological evidence from the Missouria Indian village site right here in Van Meter State Park. 

(SC-8, SS-6, CA-5)

TALL EAGLE

(Upper Elementary - Adult; 45-60 minutes)

This program points out the impact of westward expansion on American Indians in Missouri. It includes a 12-minute DVD about a Missouria Indian elder telling a story to the future generation. European explorers discussed include LaSalle, Marquette and Joliet, Bergier, Bourgmont, and Lewis and Clark. This program received the 2010 Outstanding Multi-Media Award from the National Association for Interpretation-Region 6.

(SC-4, SC-8, SS-5, SS-6, CA-5, CA-6)

HIDES TO BLANKETS, POTS TO PANS, ROCKS TO KNIVES

(Upper Elementary - Adult; 45-60 minutes.) 

Learn how American Indians traded animal hides or pelts for European trade goods and how this process influenced the changing lives of the Indians. Trading and bartering is explained. Participants will compare and contrast items and may give a brief informal presentation about their item.

(SC-3, SC-4, SC-8, SS-2, SS-6, CA-6) 

PRIMITIVE HUNTING SKILLS 

(Upper Elementary - Adult; 45-60 minutes)

See how American Indians made weapons and honed their hunting skills. They began by first learning their eye-hand coordination through throwing corncob darts through stationary and moving targets. They would then advance to using throwing arrows, followed by graduation to the atlatl.  (This program can only be given at the park, not off-site.) 

(SC-8, SC-2, HP-4, HP-1 eye/hand coordination) 

BEANBAG HUNT  

Can be teacher-guided. (Elementary - Middle School; 30-45 min.) 

Knowledge of where animals lived, their habits, and what they looked like was essential to the American Indian hunters. This program allows participants to identify and "hunt" the kinds of animals the American Indians and early explorers might have hunted or fished. Pictures of a selection of animals from fish to bison are attached to boards that can be knocked over with beanbags. 

(SC-8, SC-3, CA-5, HP-4, HP-1 eye/hand coordination)

HABITAT RELAY  

Can be teacher-guided.   (Elementary - Middle School; 30-45 min.) 

Identify the kinds of mammals that live in three different habitats: forest, wetland and prairie. A Plains Indian creation story is read to describe how some tribes believe animals came to be. Younger children will identify the animals by their picture, while older students will identify the animals by their tracks, with the help of a mammal track identification card. Participants will be divided into two teams. An animal will be named and the first person on each team must decide which habitat the animal lives in and run to one of the three habitat containers and retrieve the picture of the animal or the animal's tracks. Another animal is named for the next person on the team, etc.

(SC-3, SC-4, SS-6, CA-5, HP-4)

CEMETERY INVESTIGATION 

Can be teacher-guided.  (Middle School - Adult; 45 minutes)

This scavenger hunt type program looks at a replica setup of the Van Meter Family Cemetery.  The hunt covers a time period from the late 1700s following through to World War II. It is designed to have the participants examine the headstones to answer questions and compute dates. It also allows them to use their knowledge of history and a little imagination to answer some questions.

(SS-2, SS-7, M-1, CA-6)

THE UN-NATURAL HIKE 

Teacher-guided.  (Elementary - Adult; 30-45 minutes)

This program will encourages participants to look carefully at our natural forest environment. Several man-made items will be placed along the Cemetery Trail. The participants will have to walk the trail and look carefully at the forest and all of its natural elements to see those things that do not belong. The items they see are recorded on paper, but not collected. (This program can only be given at the park, not off-site.)

(SC-8, HP-4 Hiking)

NATURE BINGO 

Teacher-guided.  (Elementary - Adult; 30-45 minutes)

This bingo game gets participants to consider how wildlife is organized into groups. The bingo grid is 6 x 6 and each column represents a wildlife group: mammals, birds, plants, amphibians and reptiles, fish and invertebrates. The free spaces are the word NATURE, which is spelled out diagonally from the top left to the bottom right corner. When someone gets a bingo, they call out "NATURE BINGO."  Typically, there are small prizes to win, like pencils, etc. An easier version called "EARTH BINGO" is available for lower elementary.

(SC-3, CA-5)

NATIVE AMERICAN BINGO 

Teacher-guided.   (Upper Elementary - Adult; 30-45 minutes)

This bingo game raises the participants’ awareness of different aspects of Native American life. The bingo grid is 6 x 6 and each column represents a different category: dwellings, foods, stone tools, other items, trade goods and Native American tribes.  The free spaces are the word NATIVE, which is spelled out diagonally from the top left to the bottom right corner. When someone gets a bingo, they call out "NATIVE AMERICAN BINGO."  Typically, there are small prizes to win, like pencils, etc.

(SC-8, SS-6, CA-5)

A Bird in The Hand

During Fall Only (Upper Elementary – Adult; 20 – 45 minutes) 

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush for learning!  Students can visit the Missouri River Bird Observatory bird-banding station located at Shelterhouse 2.  The program includes viewing native birds up close, observing as scientists band and collect data on each bird, and discussing migration and local ecology.  It can be tailored to current curriculum with advance notice.

(CA-6, SC-3, SC-4, SC-7, SS-7)