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Native American Interdisciplinary Educational Unit Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #:AELP-INT004
Submitted by: Cleo J. Bellah
School or Affiliation: Gardner Elementary School, Gardner, CO
Endorsed by: These lesson plans are the result of the work of the teachers who have attended the Columbia Education Center’s Summer Workshop. CEC is a consortium of teachers from 14 western states dedicated to improving the quality of education in the rural, western, United States, and particularly the quality of math and science Education. CEC uses Big Sky Telegraph as the hub of their telecommunications network that allows the participating teachers to stay in contact with their trainers and peers that they have met at the Workshops. Date: May 1994

Grade Level(s): 2, 3, 4


  • Interdisciplinary
  • Social Studies/US History

Description: The Native American has for hundreds of years been stereotyped. To help children understand that what they see in movies and television is not always historically accurate, I teach this unit.


The purpose to this unit and activities is to motivate and to make learning fun and interesting, while covering most subjects and concepts required by the district’s curriculum. This unit can be taught at any time of the school year. I’ve done it in October and ending it at Thanksgiving, when the parents join us for a Thanksgiving dinner, and also in January and ending it at the end of February or the middle of March where we culminate it with a play for the parents, community and student body.


The students will learn about another race of people and their culture, lifestyle and about the many different and important contributions they have made to benefit the American people.


Films, videos, library and coloring books, resource people, museums and art galleries, clay, greenware, ceramics, paints, beads, wire, yarn, weaving needles, cardboard or wooden looms, food stuffs and ingredients, pots and pans and utensils, measuring cups and spoons, silver, turquoise stones, tools for silversmithing, leathers and string for leather tooling, doll faces, paper cups, tissue or paper towel tubes, glue, scissors, pencils, writing and construction paper, crayons and markers.


Start with webbing. List all the categories you plan to cover.

  • Pick and read about a specific tribe.
  • List and learn vocabulary words and meaning of each of those that are unfamiliar to the students but that are key words necessary to the unit.
  • Use dictionary to look up words.
  • Use words in sentences. Oral and written.
  • Use same words as their spelling words for the week. {ten to twelve words for second graders, up to twenty words for third and fourth graders.}
  • Do research on specific tribe.
  • Write stories about a specific character. { ex. Chief Joseph, Geronimo, Sacajewea, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, etc. }
  • Illustrate the story.
  • Read the story to the class or to another class. If story was written in cooperative groups, the group will decide who will read what, etc.
  • In cooperative learning groups, write a script, depicting legends of true stories.
  • Use as Young Readers Theater as part of reading activity.
  • Do cooking projects using recipes found on Indian Cook Books.
  • Do crafts, such as weaving, beading, pottery, doll making, silversmithing, ceramics, brass and copper molding, sand painting, etc..
  • Construct dioramas or miniature projects of Indian life and homes, past and or present.
  • View films or videos of tribe or tribes being studied.
  • Visit museums and art galleries where native American artifacts and paintings are on display.
  • Invite community resource people to come visit the classroom.
  • Put on play, using either the ones written by the students or any other that has native American theme and story.
  • Tying it All Together:

    The units usually lasts about six to nine weeks depending on how extensive you want to go with it. The same applies on specific subjects you want to cover and the activities you want to do.

    The number of lessons and activities one can do with this unit is unlimited since there are many fascinating things to do. The unit creates a great deal of interest, is a lot of fun and motivating and you will find it quite productive as far as learning goes and combines many different learning styles.

    The subjects covered are reading, spelling, english, creative writing, handwriting, social studies, dictionary and library skills, grammar, sentence structure, geography, history, math, social skills, science, art and crafts, music and drama.


  • High interest level by students, teachers and parents.
  • Parental involvement .
  • Excellent attendance rate and minimal absenteeism.
  • High achievement scores in most subjects , particularly in language arts, and social studies.
  • The finished product.
  • Unit teaching takes a lot of planning, hard work and takes a lot of time, but it is a lot of fun and a good learning experience for students and teacher and all those involved. I enjoy it and it works for me.