Nursery/Preschool/Kindergarten Thematic Unit Day 4: Four Sacred Elements

Day Four: Four Sacred Elements

Remind the students of the previous activities they have done regarding water and the medicine wheel teachings. Ask the students to identify what the four sacred elements are and what colour is used to represent them. Read the poem about the medicine wheel in circle time. Today in the talking circle they will be asked to talk about the importance of water. Ask the students to identify one thing in their life they could not do if there was no water. Pass around the “talking rock or feather”.

Story Time: Once upon a time a very long time ago, there was a little girl who was very curious. She also thought that she was very pretty. One of the things the girl liked to do was to look in the water to see her own reflection. Her village was a few hours walk from a clear lake. It was in the lake on a calm day that she could see herself in the lake. Sometimes the girl, in the quest to see herself, would stop doing all her chores and just wander to the lake on calm days. The little girl’s parents told her not to go to the lake because she should not be looking at herself. It was not good to care so much about how one looks they often told her. One day she did not listen and she went to the lake, that is when she fell into the lake and she was never seen again. Sometimes her family would go to the lake to look for her but they never saw her again. Sometimes people would say that they saw her swimming below the surface of the lake because they heard her laughing. But she never came back to her village.

Questions about the story:

  • Why did the girl go to the lake?
  • Is it safe to go to water all by yourself?
  • What should the girl have done differently?
  • Water is a powerful element in that you need to be safe around it, how can you stay safe near water?


1) Messy Table Activity: Water Play


  • Funnels
  • Screens
  • Ladles
  • Spoons
  • Paper towels
  • Food colouring
  • Bowls
  • Pop bottles (various sizes)
  • Dish soap
  • Water basin


  1. Exploring with water is always fun. Provide students with an opportunity to view water in various containers and to transfer the water to and from various containers.
  2. After the student has transferred water a few times introduce the food dye to the waters.
  3. Ask the children to notice how the water will change colour if mixed with other water.
  4. Another variation is after the transference and colour play, introduce a small amount of dish soap to the water.
  5. Ask the child to notice how the suds are formed when they transfer the water from each container.
  6. Using the screens, add more dish soap and have the children blow bubbles through the screen.
  7. Ask the students to use their imagination and find out different ways they can use to play with water.
  8. Ask the student to observe how the water changes shapes depending on the container in which it is placed.
  9. Ask the students how they would be able to do this task without water.

2) Cut and Colour Table Activity: Medicine Wheel Symbols for Four Sacred Elements


  • Crayons
  • Photocopied medicine wheel
  • Scissors


  1. Have the students talk about the Four Sacred Elements which are Fire, Water, Wind/Air and Earth.
  2. Ask the students to think about how they use each of the elements every day.
  3. Have students brainstorm about how they use each of the elements.
    • Examples, Fire: cooking, warmth, furnace, Water: wash, drink, and cook. Wind/Air: breath, flying a kite, Earth: walk on, build on etc...
  4. Ask the students to think of a symbol that they could use to represent each of the four sacred elements.
    • If there is more than one symbol and the students are having a hard time agreeing, the symbols will be voted upon. The symbol with the most votes will be placed on the students’ medicine wheel.
    • Possible ideas for symbols include a flame for fire, a raindrop for water, a cloud blowing wind, and a rock for earth. Students colour their symbols and cut out their medicine wheel.

3) Creative Art Activity: Making Paper Medicine Wheels


  • Various coloured paper scraps
  • Water
  • Jar sealer rings
  • Stir sticks
  • Paper towels
  • Rags
  • Screen or mesh
  • Scissors
  • Bowls
  • Large tub (such as a plastic dishpan, blender, plastic buckets)
  • Strainer or colander
  • Jars for storing excess pulp


  1. Organize the paper into four colour categories: White, Blue, Red and Yellow. Make the colour paper into four separate productions.
  2. Tear the paper into small squares, about 1 inch.
  3. Put the torn paper in a bucket of water and let it soak for at least 2 hours.
  4. Put batches of the paper into a blender, making sure there is plenty of water-- about 1/3 pulp with 2/3 water.
  5. Fill a rectangular plastic tray with about 2 inches of water and pour in a blender full of pulp. The amount of the pulp in the water will determine the thickness of the paper. You will have four different coloured pulp mixtures.
  6. Use the jar sealer as the circle format for the medicine wheels. The screen or mesh should be placed on the jar sealer lid with elastic. For dividers in the circle use the stir sticks to form the medicine wheel divisions.
  7. Place each of the coloured categories into the four sections of the wheel shape. It is easier to concentrate on one colour at a time. Using a rag sop up some of the water and press the goop down. Once all colours are in the wheel remove the stir sticks gently (perhaps this should be done by an adult).
  8. Keep the new paper in the jar seal lid ring for a day or two. Remove from the mold and let dry.
  9. These medicine wheel papers can then be laminated and given to parents as coasters.


  • After the paper medicine wheels are dried the children can draw their selected symbols representing each of the four sacred elements on them before they are laminated. They should be cut out after lamination.

4) Oral Language Activity: Chinook Blessing

This Blessing can be found in: Shannon, M., Oman, M., Dossey, L. (2000).Prayers for Healing: 365 Blessings, Poems and Meditations from Around the World. Conari Press.

Chinook Blessing Read this Chinook blessing to the children and ask them to think about what the words mean.

"We call upon the waters that rim the earth,

horizon to horizon,

That flow in our rivers and streams,

That fall upon our gardens and fields,

And we ask that they teach us and show us the way."

—Chinook Indian Blessing

Questions to consider:

  • How does water rim the earth? (Show the students a globe of the earth and ask them to look at the water on the earth)
  • What is meant by horizon to horizon? (Have the students look out the window or look outside from direction to direction).
  • How and what can water teach us?
  • What have we learned about water thus far?
  • What can we teach others about water?

Additional Activity: Have students come up with a blessing or a saying for each of the four elements which the teacher will write on chart paper and put up in the front of the room.

  • Example: We thank the fire element which warms us with the sun and cooks our food. We thank the earth ... we thank the wind...etc...

Snack Time Ideas

1) Snack: Dirt/Earth Cake (No Bake)

Dirt Cake


  • 1 (20 ounce) package chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • Blue food dye (optional)
  • Tart tins (optional)


  1. Using a blender or food processor crush 2/3 of the cookies.
  2. Stir in the melted butter, then press into a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together instant pudding and milk.
  4. Chill in freezer until thickened.
  5. Using an electric mixer beat the cream cheese into the pudding and add blue food dye.
  6. Fold the dessert topping into the pudding mixture by hand.
  7. Spread over the prepared crust.
  8. Crush the remaining cookies in the blender, and sprinkle over the top of the pudding layer.
  9. Chill for at least 4 hours or until serving time.


  • Using cookie crumbs form islands over the blue surface that would represent water.
  • Add Red-Hots to represent fire and add small boats with sails or flags to represent the wind.
  • You can have each child prepare their own desert in their own tart tin or small pie plate.
  • This can be taken home with the child.

This Recipe and Image can be found at: West, D. (2008). Dirt Cake III. Retrieved from: