Lesson Plan Ideas: American Indians
Native Americans have a beautiful culture and history that is well worth studying. Since most of their traditions are oral and passed from parent to child, they provide many opportunities for storytelling and hands on learning. Since this is the way most of us love to learn, it will not be difficult to engage the attention of the students.
The different tribes of Native Americans are found in every state of our country. It should not be difficult to locate a reservation and ask for their help in implementing these suggestions. Most Native Americans are proud of their culture and are willing to educate respectful students. If possible, arrange for a local tribal member to visit the class, in full regalia to implement the lesson.
Lesson Set Up
Announce to the students that they will be learning about their local Native American tribe.
Greet them in tribal language (example: Boozhoo means “Welcome” in the Ojibwe language of the Native Americans from the Lac du Flambeau tribe of northern Wisconsin)
Vocabulary Words: The tribal words for hello, thank you and goodbye.
Skills: Prepare a traditional tribal meal
Homework: Research food traditionally used by this tribe and how it was prepared.
Have the Native American visitor greet the students in his tribal language and encourage them to respond. The tribal member can take some time to display his regalia and explain how each item was made. He can also explain how his tribe lived, whether they were hunter/gatherers or farmers, how they related to other tribal groups in the region and the types of food they ate.
Help the students prepare the meal, using the research they did at home. For example, if the visitor was from the Ojibwe tribe of the Lac du Flambeau reservation, the students would prepare fry bread, dried cranberries, wild rice, venison and fish. As the class shares the meal, invite the visitor to share a story from his oral tradition. At the end of class, encourage the students to say thank you and goodbye to the visitor in tribal language.
For the next class, the students could recreate a model of a local tribal village as it would have appeared two hundred years ago. The students could research the types of housing used, whether tipis or log houses and make the model out of clay.
Depending on the area in which you live, there may be opportunities to visit historical villages or museums. You may also have the opportunity to visit a Pow Wow. Many natural history museums also have sections that are devoted to preserving the history of Native Americans.