For November, Native American Heritage Month, we asked TpT’ers about their resources that succeed in truly representing Native American history and culture. From engaging readings that bring forward important Native American stories to interactive projects that challenge myths and misconceptions, these thoughtful creations lend themselves to a deeper understanding of these rich cultures. Come take a look.
Explore Native American Resources on TpT
Silly Sam Productions says, “We have a mural of the hills of Texas that we decorate with tipis and thunderbirds — artwork inspired by Mr. Tomie DePaola’s book, The Legend of the Bluebonnet. We read a collection of Native American children’s stories and learn about the customs, traditions, and cultures of Native Americans.
The kicker of all is that my wonderful father-in-law has blessed me with a collection of real arrowheads that I can share with my little anthropologists to make the experience more real. We set up our Native American Museum with arrowheads and tools, and the students present them to parents and other classes. One little guy got so excited that he started digging in his own backyard to try to find arrowheads!”
Take a look at her blog post — it features beautiful photos of the mural and explains more about the project. And be sure to pick up her Native American Culture Unit FREEBIE (grades K-3).
From Teach 123 – Michelle: “I have a packet with activities around Native Americans. It also includes information about Navajo Code Talkers, which is perfect for November. Use it for Veterans Day or a lesson on contributions by Native Americans. There are also activities about tribes.” Her blog post explains even more about the resource and showcases student examples, too. Take a look.
“My Native American unit was always one of my favorite ones to teach,” recalls The Library Patch. “I began each unit with a project that I called Survival of the Smartest. Students were put into groups of three or four, and each group was given a task. They had to imagine that they were abandoned in a remote part of the Adirondacks. One group was in charge of shelter; another, clothing; and another food. They were only allowed to use nature’s resources to help them survive. Each group had to come up with a plan and share it with their peers. The kids LOVED it. As they discussed their problems, I would circulate among the groups, questioning their strategies and plans. It really made them think about how challenging life would be without stores. As we’re from New York, my students would study the Iroquois people; I’ve used my Discovery Journal: Iroquois People of the Longhouse (grades 3-5) with lots of success.
I have to give a shout out to the clip art artist, Creative Critters. Her clip art of the Iroquois people was spot on!”
“Tecumseh, the great Shawnee leader, inspires our study of Native Americans,” says Brenda Kovich. “First, my 4th graders create a double timeline, with the life of Tecumseh on one side and U.S. history on the other. We discuss how history changed Tecumseh’s life and how Tecumseh changed history. After listening to Tecumseh’s famous speech to William Henry Harrison, they use creative problem-solving to explore both sides of the land controversy.
To me, Tecumseh exemplifies the Native American spirit. I don’t have a resource related to this, but I hope other TpT’ers will be inspired to study Tecumseh with their students, too.”
“I’ve just started creating Social Studies resources,” says Carol’s Garden, “and what I have focuses on Native Americans. Here are Archaeological Mix and Match: Paleo, Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian People (4-5), Common Core Inspired Paleo Indians vs. Archaic People of North America (grades 4-5), and Paleo-Indians of Southeast North America PowerPoint Common Core Inspired (grades 4-6).
I also have a series of blog posts about these resources, with one post including Pourquoi Tales handed down by various Native American tribes.”
From ESL Nexus: “I just wrote a blog post about Native American Heritage Month in which I described my trip to Plimoth Plantation this past May and posted photos showing the contrast between the English settlers and the local Wampanoag Indians. This topic is part of the history and social science standards for grade 5 in Massachusetts, and I created a slideshow of my trip to show my students what life was like back in 17th century Massachusetts. Also in my blog post, I reference a recent article that describes the results of a research report about the teaching of Native Americans in U.S. schools. I think Thanksgiving is a great way to jump-start conversations about Native American history and how Native Americans, and many ethnic groups, have been treated throughout the course of U.S. history.”
Here’s some spectacular insight from Diana Bailey about Native Canadians. “My first teaching job was in northern Quebec where I taught classes of Native Canadians and classes of non-Native children. It was a wonderful experience, and I have many memories that I cherish. I learned so much during my years there. I have a great respect for Canada’s native peoples and love learning about the culture.
In Canada we tend to refer to the peoples who were here before the Europeans arrived as First Nations people(s), Aboriginal Canadians, Native Canadians, or Inuit (who do not come under the First Nations umbrella). We do not use the term Native Americans here (unless they are from the U.S.) and although Indian is still used, you will hear the other terms just as often, if not more.
I have many resources about Canada’s Native people including my Canada’s Native Peoples: Mega Bundle of 7 Items! (grades 4-6) and an informational text unit on Tecumseh, who played an important part in the largely unsung saga of the Native peoples before and during the American Revolution. Here it is: 5 Days with Tecumseh – 5 Informational Texts with Activities (grades 6-8).”
Mr Educator – A Social Studies Professional says, “I have a bundle that I use each year; it tackles a variety of topics when dealing with Native Americans, but my favorite has to be the Native American Myth-Busters activity (grades 5-8). Students investigate five myths regarding Native Americans, both in the past and the present, and seek to either ‘prove’ or ‘bust’ each myth. It gets kids thinking and, most importantly, talking about this group that can sometimes be forgotten, ignored, or disregarded.”
Literary Sherri is also intent on busting myths. “I have a lovely unit on Native American myths in which students read and analyze seven myths from the Nez Perce, Cherokee, Algonquins, Passamaquoddy, Blackfoot, Dakota (Sioux), and Mohawk tribes. It includes an extensive writing assignment as well. I teach this in 7th grade ELA when students are learning about Native Americans in Social Studies. The students always love this unit, and their written pieces continue to amaze me! Here’s the complete unit – Native American Myths: Guided Reading and Writing for Middle School (Grades 6-8.)”
“I lived among and taught Native Canadian/American Inuit peoples up near Greenland on Baffin Island (high arctic) for two years,” says Ellen Weber – Brain based tasks for upper grades. “I learned a great deal from these wonderful teachers that I now use to teach others.
It’s been my desire to allow Native Americans to teach the rest of us — through brain-based tools like the talking stick, which works amazingly well. I saw talking stick variations first among Inuit leaders in the high arctic, and now see how these tools offer a favorite curiosity-builder for my own students and others.
We use this fun Talking Stick Lesson Opener (grades 6-12) to stretch curiosity into deeper understanding for lesson topics in any class. This activity encourages students to jump back with ideas in response to others while ensuring that all can speak up and feel heard — since the only one speaking is the one holding the stick at the time.”
Different Drummer Secondary English Resources explains, “I wrote an informational text article about Native American history and the Trail of Tears. In addition, I’ve included a journal entry activity that urges students to think from the perspective of a Native American traveling as well as from the perspective of a ranger leading the tribe to the reservation. I find that once students have the right information, they can see things from these two unique perspectives. Here’s the complete resource: The Trail of Tears Informational Text and Narrative Writing Activity (grades 7-10).”
“Using texts to teach about a culture is an excellent way to paint an authentic picture for students,” explains Julie Faulkner. “I use a beautiful poem written by a Cherokee Indian woman, Marilou Awiakta, from Appalachia. Not only are students intrigued by the poem’s beautiful figurative language and personal details, but also they enjoy reading and discussing it because that is our ‘neck of the woods.’ The poem is an excellent model for teaching voice and imagery, and then I have students write their own poems in a similar format of Awiakta’s. This no prep poetry lesson is appropriate for upper middle to high school students and is included in my Treating Senioritis with Poetry bundle (grades 9-12).”
Creating your own resources? Try this Thanksgiving Pilgrims & Native Americans Clip Art set from Glitter Meets Glue Designs. She explains, “I did copious research to find examples of Native Americans in authentic garb. I looked toward some of the first photos ever taken of native tribes as well as historical paintings that documented their attire. The final drawings that I came up with showcase colors and design elements that are true to their dress while still being elementary-age friendly. I’m really proud of this set.”
“A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong.” – Tecumseh
Thank you, TpT’ers. For all you do. We really are stronger together, as we continue to teach each other and learn from each other.
(Feature image: Thanks to Wizard of Boz for the Charlie Print font.)