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The First Americans Today
Grade Level(s): 3-5

The goal is to begin the process of helping students visualize the Native American culture as a very important part of their everyday existence.


Students will be able to identify at least one similarity and at least one difference in the following categories: celebrations, daily activities, values and beliefs, other.



Pre-Instructional Assessment
  1. To determine what the students already know prior to instruction, the teacher will ask the students to tell her what they know about the Native American culture. While the students are telling the teacher these things, the teacher will write them down on the board.
  2. After that, the teacher will ask the students to define what a value and what a belief is. The teacher will write their definitions on the board, because at this stage there is no right or wrong answer at that point, the teacher is just trying to get a feel of what the children already know.
  3. Finally, the teacher will then proceed to define the terms, values and beliefs, using an elementary definition. After this, the class will proceed on to the lesson.
Instructional Strategies
  1. Divide students into cooperative groups and give each group several books from the selection stated above in the list of materials.
  2. Ask students to look through the pictures in the books and, as a group, make a list of the characteristics of the children in the pictures and the activities in which they are engaged.
  3. Ask them to find short passages in the text that describes an everyday activity of a Native American child or his/her family.
  4. As a whole group, we will make a composite list on the board or the overhead. Allow the groups to take turns reading to others or reporting the descriptions of family activities.
  5. Go through the list and look for categories. (For example: family meals, playing games, going to school, wearing blue jeans, wearing athletic shoes, doing chores, various colors or hair or skin, wearing a ponytail, worshipping, joining in a celebration, wearing regalia for a traditional ceremony.)
  1. Discuss “values” and “beliefs”. What do the pictures tell us about things that people consider important? (For example: families, caring, working hard, health and recreation, sharing membership in a family or tribe, being an American, etc.)
  2. Teacher assigns groups to draw or find a picture that represents the categories of activities and the values.
Post-Instructional Assessment
  1. To know if an individual student has mastered the activity, the teacher is going to provide each student with a worksheet to complete.
  2. The students will create a chart telling how their lives would be the same or different if they participated in a cultural exchange program and went to live with a Native American family for a month. If there are Native American students in the class, the teacher will ask them to make the chart showing how their lives would be the same/different if they went to live with non-Native American families. The worksheet requires that the students list two similarities and two differences within the categories of celebrations, daily activities, values and beliefs, and other. The teacher will expect the students to have at least one entry in each box of the chart. The teacher will expect that the entry is neatly written, and the teacher will expect that the students can explain orally each entry so that other students understand.
Suggested follow-up Enrichment:

The teacher will assign students to read books from the above list (materials section) and make entries in their literature logs. Also, the students can create a book or a diorama on the subject, “A Day In the Life of…” Another activity would be to take the students on a field trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art or the Western Reserve Historical Society to view Native American art and culture.


Watch a video on Native Americans and learn about the values and beliefs, celebrations, daily activities, and other things the Native Americans did. Then have the students write one paragraph about what they learned from the video.


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