Tribal Shield


How did the Plains Indians create and use their shields? Design a realistic replica of a Crow or Kiowa circular shield.


1. What do you think about when you study North American Plains Indians? Is it bows and arrows? Shields were just as important to these Native Americans. Find pictures of these artifacts. Some shields were made from rawhide. This buckskin might have come from antelopes. They were more abundant than bison on the Plains at one time.

2. Some shields were 3 feet (.9 m) in diameter. These big shields were placed side by side on the ground to form a protective barrier behind which Native American warriors could hide and fight.

3. The Crow and Kiowa also created small circular shields. They were usually made of buffalo skins and painted with a design that the shield's creator dreamed. Warriors held ceremonies to make their shields. Shields were adorned with feathers, beads, bells, and dyed quills. Often shields were passed down through a family, because they were believed to protect people.

4. Study what qualities specific animals have in Native American symbolism. Pick an animal that is important to you.

5. Cover your art area with newspaper. Tear and crumple a circle of recycled brown paper grocery bag. Paint your shield with Crayola® Washable Multicultural Paint and a Paint Brush to make it look like tanned leather. Air dry flat.

6. Spritz construction paper with water. Draw your protective animal with Crayola Washable Markers on the wet paper. Make the colors bold and strong. Air dry flat.

7. Tear out your animal drawing around its edges if you like, or cut it with Crayola Scissors. Attach your animal to the shield with Crayola School Glue. Air dry flat.

8. Punch holes in the shield. Tie on feathers, beads, and other decorative items with yarn.

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

Crayola Washable Paints—Not for use as body/face paint.

Scissors—ATTENTION: The cutting edges of scissors are sharp and care should be taken whenever cutting or handling. Blunt-tip scissors should be used only by children 4 years and older. Pointed-tip scissors should be used only by children 6 years and older.

String-Like Materials—Includes string, raffia, lacing, yarn, ribbon, and other similar material. Children 3 years and younger should not be given any string-like material that is longer than 12 inches. Close adult supervision is essential whenever children use string-like material. When crafts are to be worn around the necks of children 8 years and younger, attach the ends of the “string-like material” with clear adhesive tape, which allows easy release of the bond if the craft becomes entangled or caught on equipment. For children older than 8 years, the ends of the “string-like material” may be tied and knotted.


  • Identify the distinct tribes that are considered to be Plains Indians. Where did they originally live? How were they unique? Study the tribes' interrelationships before the arrival of the Europeans and how that changed after the Europeans' arrival.
  • Learn how skins are tanned to become leather. Compare the tanning processes used by the Plains Indians and the Europeans.
  • Find out where descendants of the Plains people live today. How are they trying to preserve their history and culture?

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

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crayola supplies
  • Paint Brushes
  • Markers
  • No-Run School Glue
  • Pointed Tip Scissors
  • Washable Multicultural Paint
  • Construction Paper
household supplies
  • recycled newspaper
  • yarn
  • hole punch
  • brown paper grocery bag
  • craft feathers
  • paper towels
  • spray bottle filled with water
  • container(s) of water
  • decorative craft items



  • Grades 1 to 3
  • Grades 4 to 6


  • Social Studies
  • Visual Arts


  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Multiple Sessions


  • Students examine the material culture of the Plains Indians.

  • Students learn about the role of shields for the Crow and Kiowa.

  • Students study animal symbolism as used by North America's indigenous people.

  • Students create a facsimile of a Plains Indian shield.


Research Canada Standards
Research UK Standards
Research U.S. Standards