The Celestial Bear


Oil Pastel Drawings Inspired by American Indian Sky Lore

Lesson Summary

Students listened to a story of the celestial bear as described by Native American tribes of the northern hemisphere. For their project, students drew a starscape, followed by using a clear guide to locate stars that could make up their constellation. Students emphasized 7 stars and connected them using three colored lines in either warm or cool colors depending on the student’s choice to draw a winter constellation or a summer constellation. To complete the lesson, students wrote a sentence using the terms constellation or emphasize.

Grade Level

Art Standards

Interdisciplinary Standards




Students will understand the concept of emphasis by adding additional design elements that place special importance on the stars of the bear constellation.


Warm & Cool Colors

Students will choose warm or cool colors to draw their constellation based on the season. They will successfully use a combination of at least three colors in one of the palettes.



Students will learn about the term constellation and be able to explain it as a group of stars in the night sky.

Big Ideas

Sky & Nature

Native Americans used the sky as a consistent reference point for stories and practical purposes.

The Seasons

The bear shifts positions in the sky as the seasons progress, which is reflected in the story as the bear runs from, rises up against, and is ultimately slain by the hunters.


Native Americans used the sky to tell stories about natural occurrences and to keep a verbal history.

How are societies influenced by the environment around them?

How does the availability of resources impact the development of a culture?

Why might standards of beauty be related to the environment a culture is located within?