Friday, November 18, 2011

Native American Unit

I think this is one of my favorite units of the year. I have always been fascinated with Native American culture and hope to give my kiddos a little insight into traditions they are probably not already familiar with yet. Unfortunately, this week I was at professional development for 3 days so we haven't yet been able to incorporate many of the activities. Hopefully we'll have some good examples from the upcoming 2 days we have left.

Some ideas to increase rigor in Native American activities.

Using GT Icons:

1) Ethics is an obvious one-was it fair the way the Native Americans were treated? But also to write about the ethics of the people as a culture. They way the tribes worked together, the way they never wasted anything.

2) Multiple Perspectives: They could compare the perspective of a pilgrim to someone coming to America today. Perspective of a tipi compared to that of a house, pilgrims to the Native Americans.

3) Big Idea-storytelling was a constant tradition and after hearing a story we discuss what the big idea learned was. My kids make storytelling belts out of colored pasta-they make an image and then write a story about it-what is the big idea learned from that story?

4) Language of the disciplines-we incorporate this into a unit about homes-so vocab of an architect. Or that of a historian.

5) Overtime-how has America changed since the Pilgrims landed? How has the Native American culture changed? How have Native American homes changed over time.

Higher-level thinking ?'s:

What would have happened if the Pilgrims hadn't made the voyage to America? How would the life of the Native Americans be different? Would our environment be different today?


We love to make tortilla tipis. Using food coloring the students paint the tortillas and put pretzels at the top for the wood. Nothing like eating art! :)

I've never been brave enough to try this (and I don't think this is the class to do it with yet):  how cool would that be?!?

Using a feather to create something new (trying to get back on the horse after the leaf fiasco :)


  1. Please drop the Tipis. This is historically in accurate. Many Plains Cultures used the Tipis made of buffalo skins and they traveled the Great Plains. They were not involved with the Pilgrim's Thanksgiving.

    The Wampoanoga Nation, who helped the Pilgrims, lived in wigwams not Tipis.

    We need to stop teaching historically inaccurate information.

  2. I appreciate your comment.

    We actually compare all different kinds of homes. I traditionally do it this time of year because of Thanksgiving, but teach about traditions from several different tribes, not just the Wampanoag. In the past we have actually made clay replicas of wigwams, adobe homes, etc. We just aren't going to have time to do that this year.

  3. Great post! My kids would love doing some of these activities. I, too, am fascinated by Native American Culture. This site I embedded has really great authentic information if you needed anymore.