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#98. Native American Units

Social Studies, level: Elementary
Posted by Susan (smith@teachers.net).
Pat Henry Elementary, Lawton, OK 73507
Concepts Taught: Activities for Native American unit

I have taught Native Americans for many years. Here are many ideas I really like. I would never try all of them in one year because it would take too long. Here are my favorites. 1. I divide the class into five groups- one for each regional group: SW, SE, Woodlands, Plain, and Pacific Northwest tribes. They can either do reports, posters, books, or newspapers about their regional tribes. An oral presentation is made by each group and includes housing, clothing, modes of transportation used by the tribes, food, weapons, jobs of tribe members ( women, men, children, chief, medicine man, etc.), where each is located in the USA, and important tribe members. They make a mural with bulletin board paper to show life in the tribe. Some years they msake villages from clay, sticks, pebbles, etc. rather than the murals.
2. Trail of Tears stories- I read the Cornerstones of Freedom book entitles "Trail of Tears" and discuss the background of the tribes involved. When I am finished reading the students write a story from the viewpoint of a soldier on the trail, the white governors, the president, or one of the tribe members forced to walk the road to Oklahoma. I encourage details from the book, especially if they write as a person on the trail. This is an exciting activity because it draws the kids into the situation and they actually feel as if they were there.
3. I read the book " Dreamcatcher". Kids discuss how dreams differ and what kind of dreamcatcher they would like to make. I use this for reading & writing, not so much social studies. Then we make dreamcatchers from thin wood, yarn, feathers, and beads.
4. Other literature sources I incorporate: Hiawatha by Longfellow, illus. by Susan Jeffers; Thirteen Moons on a Turtle's Back; Brother Eagle, Sister Sky by Susan Jeffers; Legend of Scarface;The Raven; and The Rough Face Girl.