Schools usually teach Native American history in November. But Native American Indians celebrate special holidays every month. In February, it’s the Kwakiutl Midwinter Ceremony (which reaffirms connection with the earth). Here are other Native American holidays and holy days. Teachers and homeschool parents, if you’re doing a unit on Native American Indians, here’s a unit of lesson plans on eastern woodland native American Indians. These tribes and clans hale from the eastern seaboard region of the United States. This article refers to Native Americans as American Indians as well because that is how many tribal groups refer to themselves.
This Native American Indians unit is multi-sensory, cross-curricular and can be used with many ages and grades. Lesson plans in this interdisciplinary unit cover history, geography, culture, core democratic values, math, art, literature, science, music, reading, writing and media skills. Free printable Native American Indians activites, games, Indian crafts, recipes, web resources, books, music and materials are included.
Native American Indians tribal information
National Congress of American Indians
United National Indian Tribal Youth
Children’s Literature Books on Native American Indians
The Sign of the Beaver (grades 4-8) Elizabeth George Speare
A Light in the Forest (grades 8-12)
Children of the Wind and Water (grades 1-4)
American Girl – Kaya series (grades 3-5)
1621 – A New Look at Thanksgiving (all ages<i>)
The Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper
Hiawatha – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Movies on Native American Indians in popular culture
Little Hiawatha (Disney cartoon based on Longfellow’s poem)
A Light in the Forest (Disney, from 1960s)
The Last of the Mohicans (high school)
Son of the Morning Star
Dances with Wolves (high school)
Native American Indian history month printables from Teacher Vision
Native American history at Ed Helper
Historical native American Indians coloring pages, primary sources, artifacts, tribal leaders from A to Z Teacher Stuff
Native American crafts from Enchanted Learning
Engage student interest. Collect native American Indian artifacts. Pass them around and let students touch and explore. Display for the duration of the unit. Check with native American student parents, local tribal council or history museum. They sometimes have kits with loaner materials to share.
Artifacts to collect:
fur pelts (especially beaver)
models of birch bark canoes
piece of birch bark
porcupine quills (used for decorations)
Atlantic seashells (used for trade and as currency)
Assess Prior Knowledge
Develop a KWL chart on the board or poster papaer. K is What do you KNOW about native Americans. Fill in the K part before you have taught anything about the unit. It will will be interested to see what students know or think they know about eastern woodland natives. W is What do you WANT to Learn? What questions do you have? Fill this in beforehand. L is What have you LEARNED. Fill in the last section together as part of your evaluation of student retention (like a test only easier and less stressful).
Students should make a response journal for notes and drawings of things you discuss or demonstrate. Help reluctant learners by writing on the board notes they should take. Have students create tribal maps, biography cards and timelines of important events. Students will illustrate events and color maps. They should make a map key with symbols. Display some of the drawings on a classroom map, timeline and biography poster of famous native Americans. Students might even create an online blog.
Concepts and vocabulary to explore. Define, discuss and illustrate these ideas.
What is a native?
How did Native Americans live? ( in community, no one owns land, in harmony with nature)
How did the Europeans interact with natives? (most were expansionists, who exploited natives, made treaties to control populations and then broke them, removed natives from homeland to reservations)
What gifts have we enjoyed from eastern woodland natives? (fishing and hunting strategies, corn, squash, pelt tanning and curing, assorted tools, ways to track animals, live in harmony with nature, animal habits, medicinal practices, canoe travel)
Vocabulary: Write definitions and draw simple pictures as Native Americans did to help remember terms. Define native. reservation, treaty, Gluskabi or Great Spirit, animism (belief that spirit dwell in creatures and nature), conservation, balance of nature, symbiosis, subsistence farming, wigwam, longhouse, tipi, buckskin, papoose, leggings, wampum,
Famous People and names: Make trading card-sized picture bios for each person introduced. Include picture, name, birthday and birth place and what is known about him/her. Students can add to Journal timelines or maps. Chief Powhatan, Pocahontas (use this link for the real story), John Smith, Squanto (Tisquatum), Chief Massasoit, Samoset, Wampanoag, Pautuxet
Places: Use free printable tribal maps to draw and detail maps in this section of the notebook. Locate tribal groups. the first “Thanksgiving” location. Squanto’s journeys. Mayflower landing and European settlements. Here are more free printable tribal maps. Here are interactive native American tribal maps.
Events: Draw and give a brief description and add student pictures to illustrate of event. Keep them in order for a timeline or sequence of events. Keep a running timeline in my classroom and add events we discuss from all lessons. Locate a label locations discussed a large world map. This gives students a global sense of events. List 10 events of Native and European interaction. The European version is what most US history is based on. Have students journal personal feelings and thoughts in a “My Take on all this” section.
Native American activities, recipes, Indian crafts
Make a native American Indians coloring book with these free printable Native American coloring pages. Here’s a gorgeous free printable Native American coloring book, Indian crafts and activities and cut and paste paper projects booklet from Woodland Indian Education. Edupics has realistic free printable American Indian coloring pages. Here are a few more free printable American Indians coloring pages.
Create a native American Indian crafts diorama using felt, canvas, wood chips, fabric, dried flowers, beads. Make dolls from clothespins draped in felt. tie papoose on back with folder felt with wooden bead glued on for head. Make a fire with old pencils for logs and red plastic bread bags for flame. Use clay for rocks, blue plastic for water, milk or pop tops painted brown for clay pots or baskets (fill with beads for nuts, berries, and fruit. Fill with yarn balls for fiber.
Celebrate Native American Day with a feast. Serve dried pemmican (jerky), three sisters (squash, pumpkin, roasted corn on the cob), cornbread, fry bread (mix flour, oil, salt and honey and drop in deep fryer). Serve dried cranberries, popcorn, nuts, baked salmon or Atlantic fish. Serve in baskets and eat with fingers. Sit on the floor on rugs.
Young students can make cardboard wigwam Indian crafts in the practical life learning center. Set out native costumes, feathers, baskets, babies, blankets, etc. Make a “Fireplace” with cooking pot.
Visit a local museum, tribal council gathering, encampment or pow wow. Even if you don’t live in the eastern woodland area, you can help students learn about and enjoy their local native culture.