Teaching about Native American history and Native American life is very important for primary grades. It is necessary for students to know what their country was once like, and how Native Americans still live in the country today. I am including a few ways lesson ideas for Native Americans including history activities, studying traditions and culture, and learning about Native Americans today. Within this Native American Activities blog post, you’ll find read alouds, technology, and other lesson plan ideas. You’ll also find crafts at the end of the blog post. And finally, there is a freebie for you to download as well.
Read Alouds for Native American Lessons
When learning about Native Americans, it’s great for students to listen to stories and nonfiction texts. This helps to clear up any misconceptions they have had about Native Americans in the past. So here are just a few great reads about Native American life. Check your local library (sooner rather than later!) to see if you can stock up on Native American literature and informational text. Or stock up with these Amazon affiliate links to buy!
- The Very First Americans by Cara Ashrose
- Life in a Longhouse Village by Bobbie Kalman
- The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola
- A True Book series by Andrew Santella
- North American Indians by Marie and Douglas Gorsline
New additions that I’ve found that are great to add to the list is a National Geographic encyclopedia. They do a great job of including both historical Native American tribes and cultures, as well as tribes, traditions, and cultures today.
Technology Native American Activities
(Source: Native Land)
Recently, a librarian reached out to me and shared some great technology resources. She shared an interactive map that shows different things. Firstly, you can look at where different territories are within America. Secondly, you can look at a map of different languages. And lastly, you can look at treaties. The treaties piece would be great for upper elementary students to research and look into. What’s so amazing about this map is that it will really break misconceptions for lots of students because it shows the vast number of territories and languages within the country. Above all, this is a strong website for research purposes!
Scholastic’s Thanksgiving website has always been a great resource. This website gets more elaborate with Native American life after the Pilgrims get involved.
BrainPop will forever be one of my favorite resources to suggest to teachers. In other words, you’ll most likely always find a BrainPop video in my blog posts! First, you have BrainPopJr. for younger students. They don’t have a video only about Native Americans in general. However, they do have individual videos for specific tribes. Then, you have BrainPop, which does introduce a video about Native Americans and how they still live in our country today!
(Source: National Geographic Kids)
This website has a wealth of information. There are articles and resources for information on different Native People in different parts of the country. First, for each region, they include historical traditions and practices. Then, they include information about how those Native Americans live in the country now. For instance, in the Arctic article, they talk about how Native Americans survived the cold climate in the past and today!
Teaching Native American Information
I have created a learning unit to use with all these read alouds, technology websites, and craft ideas. This Native Americans Unit is a unit, filled with vocabulary history, social studies, reading, writing, and math activities. This unit will help your students understand the different regions of the country, the different tribes within the country, and how the Native Americans lived back then versus now.
(Source: Native Americans Unit)
This Native American unit covers a wide range of information. First, there are passages and vocabulary cards to introduce topics to your students. Within these, you’ll find information about Native American tribes and their history plus information about Native Americans living in America now. Then, there is a mini-book offered in both color and black & white. This mini book covers tribes, regions, hunting and gathering, early homes, Native American people today, and more! Then, after the mini book, you can let your students dive into research. There are research pages for different tribes. They can use the websites linked above in this blog post to learn more! And finally, there are a few culminating activities such as writing pages, flip books, and work pages.
- Native Americans Vocabulary
- Passages and Questions
- Mini Book
- Tribe Research
- Matching Activity for Vocabulary
- Foldable Books for Early Houses and Native American Facts
- Native American Writing Pages
Native American Activities: CRAFTS
(Source: Thomas Elementary Art)
This is such a great cooperative activity for the entire class. After learning about the totem poles and their purposes, this would be fantastic.
(Source: Mrs. Schmelzer’s First Grade)
I love this activity for kiddos working with groups! First, you’ll split the kiddos up into different groups. Then, you’ll let them research different tribes.
Suggested Resources from this Blog Post:
Want to try out a passage and comprehension questions for free?
Here, you can even grab a two-page FREEBIE to see if it will match your students’ reading level/reading comprehension level. It’s one of the tribe passages with associated comprehension sheets. First, print and try it out! After that, grab the full unit using the link within the freebie!
Looking for more ideas for Thanksgiving activities?
- Favorite Thanksgiving Read-Alouds
- Fun Pins and “Pinspiration” for Thanksgiving
- November Resource and Freebie Round-up
As always, I truly hope you got a few lesson ideas for Native Americans! Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter for additional resources delivered to your inbox. Happy Teaching!