SIPI’S Early Childhood Education Project Units

SIPI’s ongoing projects have allowed for the development of community based educational units that have continually been implemented at the SIPI YDI Head Start. These units provide a strong foundation for community engagement and the integration of Native language and culture in early childhood education. This informs SIPI’s AA degree program curriculum and instruction providing a well rounded teacher education program for tribal communities.

In 2011, the SIPI YDI Head Start together with project staff, embarked on a Photovoice project to garner insight from parents in order to develop a local culturally based curriculum. Parents documented their input through photographs. From those photographs and the input of parents, three summer units were created. YDI cooperating teachers and project staff created the following summer units that were implemented in May 2013.

Community Garden

Head Start students and their families experienced planting, caring for, and harvesting their own garden. This project gave families the opportunity to tap into local knowledge and the teachings of their ancestors. Local Native farmers donated heritage seeds including local chili, melons, and corn. Families, SIPI staff, SIPI students, and early childhood students assisted in the planting. SIPI’s Natural resources program facilitated the construction and planting of raised beds. SIPI facilities management staff facilitated the planting of the heritage garden and mentored the children and teachers in caring for the crops. Local farmers from the Pueblo of T’siya mentored the children. SIPI students also assisted in weeding the garden throughout the summer. This project will be an ongoing experience for the SIPI community.

Indigenous Games

Head Start students and their families celebrated wellness and fitness. This unit tapped into local traditions of running and the importance of sports in many Native communities. SIPI’s coach Mike Daney facilitated 3 mini running camps for YDI children. Nationally ranked collegiate runner, Dillon Shije, shared his knowledge with Head Start children and families. The culminating event for this unit included participation in the Jim Thorpe 5k. Twenty participants from the YDI Head Start participated in the 5k, 1K, and toddler dash. SIPI early childhood students volunteered and facilitated the events.

Indian Market

New Mexico summers mark the introduction of Indian Markets across many Native communities. Through these markets, tribal members share their talents with the community. YDI hosted their own Indian Market theme and brought Native artists to their center. Award winning Santa Fe Indian Market Potters Maxine and Dominique Toya, facilitated a two day pottery workshop. SIPI’s own Tedra Begay also shared her award winning photographs. Children celebrated their work with a Indian Market Showcase where SIPI students and YDI parents displayed their talents through song, dance, and storytelling.