South Dakota Experiential Learning for 4th Graders

with Dakota Players

A NEW Tool for teachers!

Introduce students to a world of ideas, characters, and events through a social-studies performance based opportunity they won’t forget!

When students participate in experiential education opportunities, they gain:

  • A better understanding of course material

  • A broader view of the world and an appreciation of community

  • Insight into their own skills, interests, passions, and values

  • Opportunities to collaborate 

The Missing Mountain Mystery is an amazing teaching resource that brings South Dakota standards to life through a fun and educational artist-led rehearsal/performance experience. Included along with the performance are 3 South Dakota+theatre workshops covering geography, character development with South Dakota flash cards, history, movement and aspects of technical theatre.

The program aims to dig deeper into students’ understanding of South Dakota by making learning a whole body experience.   Overall, this program is designed to help students improve in a multitude of areas, including reading, social studies, critical thinking, collaboration, body awareness and confidence.

4th Grade sd standards

Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings

4.SL.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

  • 4.H.1.1 (History) Analyze the impact of significant historical events on the development of cultures in South Dakota

  • 4.H.2.2 (History) Examine basic environmental, economic, cultural, and population issues of concern to South Dakota

  • 4.G.2.1 (Geography) Compare and contrast regions of South Dakota to one another

  • 4.G.3.1 (Geography) Describe how natural and human conditions shape places and regions

  • FA & ELA Standards


    • Standard 1.1 – Identify changes from the historic land base to the contemporary nine-reservation South Dakota land base of the Oceti Sakowin, and analyze the causes and implication of those changes.

    • Standard 1.2 – Describe traditional and contemporary Oceti Sakowin perspectives on communal stewardship of land and natural resources (flora, fauna, geographic and sacred features).

    • Standard 1.3 – Demonstrate understanding of the interrelationships of Oceti Sakowin people, places, and environments within all tribal lands in South Dakota.

    • Standard 1.4 – Identify and explain contemporary environmental issues facing Oceti Sakowin lands (i.e. Dakota Pipeline, etc.).


    • Standard 2.1 – Demonstrate knowledge of the Oceti Sakowin people’s understanding of the interrelationship of spiritual, physical, social and emotional health.


    • Standard 3.2 – Describe efforts made by Tribal members on and off the reservation to revitalize Oceti Sakowin languages.


    • Standard 4.2 – Describe the traditional behavior patterns, codes of respect and values promoted within the Oceti Sakowin tiospaye.


    • Standard 5.3 – Compare the diverse cultures (woodlands, prairie, and plains) within the Oceti Sakowin through oral tradition and written accounts.

about the show


An emergency meeting of the D.A.K.O.T.A. council (Distinguished Allied Kritters of the Area) has been called by Lenny the Buffalo to solve this mysterious mystery. The adventures begin as Tȟakóža, RN Pheasant, Patty Pasque, Sven Spruce and a host of other colorful characters go on eye-opening quests across South Dakota. 


Along the way, the characters learn to see the state from many different perspectives.  From meeting the Royal Farm Family, traveling through time with the Badlands and Wildflowers, poppin’ with prairie dogs (Yo Dogs Yo!) and being interviewed on the Black Hills Television Show, the antics never end.     


As the mystery unfolds, the D.A.K.O.T.A. council gathers together once again where they admit there is a lot they didn’t know about South Dakota.  Their travels are the spark of curiosity they need to see the miraculous power of being connected to all.  

Show length: approximately 40 minutes 

Created by

Original script/lyrics – Dan Workman and Eric Johnson

Script Consultants: Clementine Bordeaux & Deb Workman

Original Music: Eric Johnson

Music Sequencing: Christian Erickson

Music Recording: Scott & Sheryl Simpson

Costume Design: Katryna B. Preston 

Set Design: Dave Horan

Graphic Design: Kari Powell

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