The moai of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) have always fascinated us. From depictions in movies like Night at the Museum to PBS episodes exploring how these massive stone statues were moved into place, we keep coming back to their mystery and majesty. This week in home school, we decided to stop watching and start doing. We developed a hands-on activity to work in some interesting facts we have learned about the moai:
*The people of Rapa Nui carved the statues between 1250 and 1500.
*The moai, usually weighing about 15 tons, were carved at the quarry and then moved often miles away to special bases overlooking the sea.
* Soil samples show the now treeless Rapa Nui was once covered in trees, and many speculated they were cut down in order to move the moai.
Five Ball and Five of Hearts were first tasked with making a statue that showed something meaningful to them. Five of Hearts combined her love of dance and of her stuffed companion Squish Bear into a single statue, while Five Ball sculpted an homage to protein of all kinds, including tofu and rice, soy milk, and cashews.
Next they created and decorated a base. We made a cardboard frame then wrapped it in construction paper to decorate.
Five Ball and Five of Hearts then tackled the challenge of how to move their statues from the quarry to their base overlooking the sea (from the window). They could use bamboo skewers (trees) and twine (rope). Many factors had to be considered: the dimensions of the statue to be moved, the shape of the frame, how to secure it all, whether to secure the statue to the frame, etc.
Finally the big moment arrived. Each kid assembled their own team to pull the statues, an eclectic bunch including dinosaurs, Buzz Lightyear, and Dora the Explorer. Successes and failures from the pull taught us many lessons about how to build something and keep it together. In the end, both statues made it to their bases entirely intact (hooray)! The mini moai now sit atop our bookcase, a silent reminder of the ingenuity of the Rapa Nui people and of the importance of movement, friends, and good food.
Let’s hear it for the hardworking pulling team, the true heroes of the day!