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Oot-Kwah-Tah, the Seven Star Dancers

Keepers of the Night - Native American Stories and Nocturnal Activities for Children



Oot-Kwah-Tah, the Seven Star Dancers is part of a compilation entitled Keepers of the Night which provides an integrated approach to teaching the mystery and fascination of nocturnal animals, insects as well as the constellations of the night sky. Through the use of Native North American stories, nighttime artistic and scientific activities, children learn to develop a caring, constructive relationship with nature and the outdoors.  

Oot-Kwah-Tah, the Seven Star Dancers introduces its theme, astronomy and constellations with two Native American stories.  The discussion section that follows provides background information and questions about the moon, the stars and other celestial bodies.  Students participate in a variety of activities that vary from stargazing to scientific experiments. Each activity provides goals, detailed teaching instructions and a list of required materials. 

Stargazing – Students learn how to locate the major constellations, learn the difference between a star and a planet and have fun with some starry myths and legends. 

Creating Constellations – Students create a map of the circumpolar constellations by gluing “stars” (dried beans and grains) onto a cardboard sky. 

From the Milky Way to the Zodiac – Students listen to a discussion about the solar system and the major reference points to use when viewing the stars. They make a model of the relationship between the sun, Earth and constellations to demonstrate the zodiac.  

Reading the Moon – Students learn some of the major features of the moon by studying maps and by viewing the moon at night through a telescope or binoculars. 

Moon Walker – Students watch a demonstration that shows the relative sizes of Earth and the moon, the distance between them and the causes of the phases of the moon. 

Slip the Eclipse – Using a stencil, students make a cardboard model that demonstrates lunar and solar eclipses. 

Daylight/Night – Students watch a demonstration showing the causes of day and night with the use of a flashlight and globe. 

Weather: Day and Night – Students observe changing conditions in daytime and nighttime weather. They present a weather report on these conditions and use the weather patterns to make predictions in temperature.  

A section entitled Extending the Experience provides a variety of activities to reinforce and supplement the lessons of the stories and activities.   

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • How to locate the major constellations in the seasonal skies.
  • How to make a windsock.
  • How to plot temperature as measured at the time of each visit.


  • Excellent background information for teachers.
  • The resource is very easy to use.
  • Excellent outdoors activities to encourage an interconnectedness with the night sky.
  • Excellent activites for an environmental program or school activities that involve an overnight field trip to wilderness areas.
  • Includes many extending the experience activities
  • Activities include an easy to use symbols system that provides a quick reference to both the setting and the topics of that activity. 


    The resource lacks a significant action component.
    No assessment tools/rubrics are provided
    Include some technology ideas 
    Little opportunities for students to share what they have learned

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

Themes Addressed

Ecosystems (1)

  • Appreciating the Natural World

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Poor/Not considered
  • Non-applicable in this resource
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Poor/Not considered
  • Not considered in this resource
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Poor/Not considered
  • Not considered in this resource
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered
  • No action opportunites provided.
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Poor/Not considered
  • Students are not given an opportunity to clarify their own values.
Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good
  • The resource uses native wisdom to introduce older and younger students to the important concepts and topics of astronomy.
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Very Good
  • Students participate in a variety of activities that vary from stargazing, reading the moon to observing weather patterns. All of the activities take place outdoors during the day and night.


Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory
  • The resource introduces its theme using two Native North American legends. The book provides a map of native North America showing cultural areas and tribal locations as they appeared around 1600.
Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good
  • Through a variety of hands-on activities students experience the nighttime constellations and make their own observations and discoveries.
Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory
  • science
  • art
Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory
  • Students are provided with some questions, materials and some teacher direction on how to find answers

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Good
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Very Good
  • Direct, authentic experiences take place during the nighttime outdoors.
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
  • Students work in groups.
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered
  • Very few self-assessment methods are suggested.
Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Poor/Not considered
  • No case studies are used in this resource.
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good
  • A good variety of meaningful opportunities for students to further their knowledge are suggested.
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.