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Rodolfo Padilla, EDCI  402


Native American Unit



            The purpose of this unit is to educated students of America’s rich history prior to 1492.  This unit is designed to break old stereotypes of Native Americans who are often portrayed as “wild savages”.  It will portray Native Americans in a more humanistic manner.  Geography will be a critical part of the unit as well.  Students will learn that regions, and not just states, can segment the United States.                

Third graders will see how and where 5 different groups of Native Americans lived and the diversity that existed between them.  This fun and thought-provoking unit will be approximately 3 weeks long.                      


Unit Goals:

  • TLW identify 5 Native American Civilizations
  • TLW recognize 5 different regions of the United States
  • TLW think critically through the use of a Venn diagram, fact and opinion exercise, and identifying problems, solutions, and outcomes
  • TLW understand that not all Native Americans are homogeneous
  • TLW learn how various groups of Native Americans adapted to their natural environment


Instructional Overview:   

            This unit is designed to trigger critical thinking.  Traditional methods of studying Native Americans fail to engage the learner in a manner that will make he or she see Native Americans as real people.  The Explore America series is a better alternative to the Euro-centric texts available in most schools.  However, Explore America still fails to really engage the learner and present the material from a Native American perspective.  Explore America provides a short paragraph at the end of each chapter explaining European conquest in a very sanitized manner.  Some inaccuracies in the book are very obvious such as Native Americans wearing pants.  This result is from years of conditioning students and teachers to learn and think about this subject in a very one-sided manner.  The book’s role is to present the material to the learner.  The teacher’s role is to present “truth” to the learner in a manner that will not shock and enlighten him or her on this very important subject. 

            Lesson number 1/ The Hopi begins the exploration of uniquely different Native American groups.  This lesson will require students to work cooperatively and in a whole group setting.  A Venn diagram is utilized to better illustrate the differences between The Hopi and themselves.  The teacher will ensure that there are also similarities between both groups.  The rain dance in this lesson is designed to promote understanding of The Hopi and not to disparage the ritual.  Generic connections between the students’ religious believes can be made to re-enforce the importance of this activity.    

            Lesson number 2/ The Iroquois will highlight cooperation between Native Americans and not conflict.  A staged argument between two students will be utilized as an introduction to this lesson.  The teacher must have proper classroom management techniques to avoid the lesson getting out of hand.  Choose two responsible students.  Cooperatively, emulating the Iroquois League of Five Nations, students tackle a common problem and see it through from its origin, to solution, and finally outcome.  The teacher’s emphasize on Native American cooperation is vital. 

            Lesson number 3/ The Sioux is designed to raise the students’ appreciation for Native Americans and their resourcefulness.  The Sioux had many uses for bison.  They ate the animal, made tools, homes, and clothes from it.  There is a special talent that is needed to make these items.  The act of hunting the bison alone should be impressive enough.  By bringing pictures or real materials into the classroom of these items the students will understand the hard working mentality and patience The Sioux had to have had.           

            Lesson number 4/ The Chilkat will make the students aware of the closeness with nature Native Americans had.  They utilized Mother Nature to its fullest.  They knew when to harvest and when not to.  Living so close to the sea gave them access to many animals other Native American groups did not have.  The teacher emphasize how geography can have a role in how different Native American groups developed their own unique customs and traditions. 

            Lesson number 5/ The Chumash will bring to light that Europeans have affected all Native Americans in a negative way.  The teacher’s role is crucial!  The distinction from past and present Europeans must be made.  The fact and opinion exercise lets students decide how to begin viewing this issue.  Having to think about actual events in this manner is easy to instruct and enables students to objectively look at what happened to Native Americans. 

            Lesson number 6/ U.S.’ Regions and People will combing all five previous lessons.  Students will learn how to identify geographic regions areas in the United States.  They will also see from a wide angled lens the vastness from which Native Americans extended throughout the country.  The teacher should insure that the diversity among Native Americans is clear to the students.           

            Students should come away from this unit more aware of the Native Americans and a developed appreciation for their various cultures.  The teacher’s role is critical in meeting the unit’s goals.  The language used in state standards does not emphasize Native Americans enough.  It categorizes them as it would a math formula or English mechanics.  Treat the unit as if you were a Native American. 

Assessment Overview:             

            I have tried to create a variety of assessments for this unit.  Some are based on tangible evidence like matching words to their definitions and others depend on the students working together towards a goal in cooperative groups.  Assessments dealing with critical thinking will improve upon the students’ knowledge of Native Americans and give them skills that can be applied to other areas in their lives.  These assessments include a Venn diagram that will compare and contrast the students themselves with The Hopi.  An exercise based on the Iroquois cooperation within a league of nations will also help students think critically.  This assessment will be based, partly, on the ability to cooperate with other students to meet their objective of identifying a problem, solution, and outcome.  The fact and opinion exercise in The Chumash lesson helps students decipher between a historians point of view and their own.  Students will develop opinions guided by fact in this very important lesson.  They will be asked to write down a series of 10 facts and 10 opinions. 

            Other assessment techniques are used to satisfy state standards.  The rain dance engages students in a fun way by having them dance and chant.  The standard is met when students can identify this “folklore tradition” and “religious believe”.  Students will also be assessed by visually identifying the Great Plains on a map and writing a short summary on The Sioux that will assess understanding for adaptation to the environment.  Students here should have to explicitly cite 2 tools and 2 hunting methods.  For lesson 4/ The Chilkat the students will match words with their corresponding definitions and be graded according to the rubric provided under assessment in that lesson.  Creating an illustration and properly labeling it will take some of the sting away from having to memorize these words.  The illustration will be properly labeled.  The final assessment will constitute a little of all the readings.  A detailed rubric has been provided for this assessment.                                                                       


Lesson Plans

Title: The Hopi 


Grade: 3rd


Subject: History-Social Science                                                              


Main Standard: 3.2- Students describe the American Indian nations in their local region long ago and in the recent past.

  • 1. Describe national identities, religious beliefs, customs, and various folklore traditions.


Time:  2 days, one hour per day.  



  • TLW identify two methods of subsistence The Hopi used
  • TLW  create and perform a “rain dance”
  • TLW think critically by comparing and contrasting his/her methods of acquiring  food and water with The Hopi’s methods 


Materials: Explore America: The Land And People Before Columbus, Book 1  (book),  construction paper (all colors), yarn (all colors), scissors, glue, markers (all colors), pencils, paper, and Venn diagrams


Prompt:  The teacher will draw a two circle Venn diagram on the board large enough for all students to see.  One circle will be labeled “room 11” (or whatever room you are in) and the other “The Hopi”.  The teacher will ask the students how they would get food and water if they lived in the desert.  The teacher will write all students responses in the room’s circle.


Procedure:  In a whole group setting all students will read the chapter on The Hopi from Explore America.  The teacher will ensure that all students understand the vocabulary by defining difficult words in simple terms.  Upon completion of the chapter the class will

complete their own Venn diagram.  TLW copy the class’ responses under “room 11” and fill in The Hopi’s circle, and the middle circle. 


Follow-up:  In cooperative groups of 5 all students will be asked to create and perform a rain dance, as the Kachinas did in the chapter reading.  They can make masks using items listed under materials.  The dance should be no longer than 3 minutes. 



Venn diagram: the teacher will check for at least two subsistence methods under “The Hopi” and that all areas are filled in.   

Rain Dance:  It will rain (just kidding).  The rain dance will consist of costume masks and a chant.  The dance should be approximately 3 minutes.               








Rodolfo Padilla, EDCI 402

Title: The Iroquois  


Grade: 3rd


Subject: History-Social Science                                                              


Main Standard: 3.2- Students describe the American Indian nations in their local region long ago and in the recent past.

  • 3. Describe the economy and systems of government, particularly those with tribal constitutions, and their relationships to the federal and state governments.


Time:  2 days, one hour per day.  



  • TLW list all five tribes in the Iroquois league of nations
  • TLW state why the league of nations was created 
  • TLW identify a problem with a solution and its outcome 


Materials: Explore America: The Land And People Before Columbus, Book 1  (book), paper, markers or crayons, and pencils


Prompt:  The teacher will stage an argument between two students.  The class will be able to witness the argument.  The students will work out their differences and go back to their seats.  The teacher will write on the board: problem, solution, and outcome.  The teacher will inform the class that what they witnessed was set up.  In a whole group setting the class will identify the problem, solution, and outcome between the two students.            


Procedure: In cooperatives groups of 5 students will read the chapter on the Iroquois.  Each student will be assigned a name from the Iroquois league of Five Nations: Iroquois, Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk.  Upon reading the chapter each group will discuss the benefits of the formation of the Iroquois League of Nations.  Each member will have a job: reader, expert (will use dictionary to define tough words) peacekeeper (settle arguments within group), scribe, and speaker.  The group will then identify a common problem at school between students i.e. cutting in line, not playing by the rules of a specific game, making faces, etc.  The speaker will read the group’s work to the whole class.                                  


Follow-up:  Students will individually illustrate assessment portion.  



A group paper turned in with students’ real names and their given Iroquois names next to them.  The paper should have a properly identified problem, solution, and outcome.               






Rodolfo Padilla, EDCI 402


Title: The Sioux 


Grade: 3rd


Subject: History-Social Science                                                              


Main Standard: 3.2- Students describe the American Indian nations in their local region long ago and in the recent past.

  • 2. Discuss the ways in which physical geography, including climate, influenced how the local Indian nations adapted to their natural environment (e.g., how they obtained food, clothing, tools).


Time:  2 days, one hour per day.  



  • TLW visually identify on a map of the United States where The Sioux lived
  • TLW list 2 strategies The Sioux used for hunting bison
  • TLW illustrate 2 items The Sioux made from bison


Materials: Explore America: The Land And People Before Columbus, Book 1  (book), paper, pencils, crayons or markers, map of the United States.     


Prompt:  The teacher will display various tools and other products made from bison on a table (moccasins, dresses, model tipi, chisel, and an awl (pointed tool for making holes)).  S/He will then ask the students where they think the items came from.  Once all students have submitted an answer the teacher will give the correct answer: bison.        


Procedure:  In a whole a group setting the class will “popcorn” read the chapter on The Sioux.  Popcorn reading is when a student randomly calls out another students name after he or she has read a paragraph.  That student will read the following paragraph and do the same.  After reading the chapter the teacher will pull down the classroom map and show the students where the Great Plains are located.  The teacher may also refer the students to the illustration on page 32.  Students will then write a short summary on the chapter.  As students work independently the teacher will call each student to the U.S. map.            


Follow-up:  Based on the readings and in groups of 5,  students will re-enact a bison hunt.  Some students can be bison and others Sioux Indians.    



TLW visually identify the Great Plains area to the teacher using the classroom map.       

Each student’s short summary should include at least 2 tools made from bison and at  least 2 methods of hunting bison.   









Rodolfo Padilla, EDCI 402


Title: The Chilkat


Grade: 3rd


Subject: History-Social Science                                                              


Standard:  3.1- Students describe the physical and human geography and use maps, tables, graphs, photographs, and charts to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context.

·        2. Trace the ways in which people have used the resources of the local region and modified the physical environment.


Time:  2 days, one hour per day.  



·        TLW identify 3 animals The Chilkat hunted for food

·        TLW correctly match 16 of 18 vocabulary words with their definitions

·        TLW illustrate 2 bodies of water     


Materials: Explore America: The Land And People Before Columbus, Book 1  (book), vocabulary test (matching), paper, pencils, markers or crayons  


Prompt:  The teacher will write the words “inlet, coast, totem pole, myth, and potlatch” on the board.  S/He will ask the students to try and define these words in their journals or a regular piece of paper.  The students will save this paper and correct it after the reading.                 


Procedure:  Each student will silently read the chapter on The Chilkat.  They will then correct or improve their definitions from the prompt.  The teacher will lead a grand discussion on the chapter.  The teacher will ask the students questions to get them thinking.  How does the region in which The Chilkat live affect their lifestyle?  Do they have plenty of food?  How is water important?  Are they similar to the Hopi or any other group of Native Americans that live in  the desert?  How so?  Students will then be asked to make flashcards of the chapters’ vocabulary words (in blue boxes on pages 44, 45, 47, 48, 49, and 50).  On one side will be the word, on the other the definition.  Students will be paired in groups of 2s so that they may quiz each other.                      


Follow-up:  Students will illustrate The Chilkat in their environment.     



Test:  Correctly match at least 16 of 18 words with their definitions for a score of  4.

          Correctly match at least 14 of 18 words with their definitions for a score of  3.  

          Correctly match at least 12 of 18 words with their definitions for a score of  2. 

          Correctly match at least 10 of 18 words with their definitions for a score of  1.    

Illustration:  will include 3 animals The Chilkat used for food and the ocean and an inlet.  All properly labeled.   







Rodolfo Padilla, EDCI 402


Title: The Chumash


Grade: 3rd


Subject: History-Social Science               


Standard:  3.2- Students describe the American Indian nations in their local region long ago and in the recent past.

  • 4. Discuss the interaction of the new settlers with the already established Indians of the region.      


Time:  3 days, one hour per day.  



  • TLW identify the Spanish mission (Santa Ynez) that was established in their territory.
  • TLW distinguish between fact and opinion
  • TLW create “rock-art” using sand paper        


Materials:  The Chumash People (book), Report on Chumash art (LACC-Anthropology 102),  paper, pencils, sand paper, glue, colored sand, construction paper (all colors), scissors, and a stapler      


Prompt:  The teacher will show various pictures of Chumash “rock-art” and ask the students what they think these pictures represent.  The teacher will ask the students to be creative.              


Procedure:  In a whole group setting the students will read The Chumash People.  The teacher will frequently stop to check for understanding by asking questions.  What area of the United States are The Chumash from?  What are some art forms The Chumash used?  What is a shaman?  Upon reading the book the students will the teacher will explain to the students what a “fact” and “opinion” are.  Examples will be given: That boy is ugly, opinion.  I am a boy, fact.  The Chumash live on the West coast, fact.  The Chumash were happy in the mission, opinion.  They will create two columns on a piece of paper each labeled fact and opinion.  Working with a partner, they will come up with 10 facts and 10 opinions.  The first fact will be given to them: Santa Ynez was the Spanish mission built on The Chumash land, fact.  The teacher will monitor all groups and check for understanding.           


 Follow-up:  Apply glue over sand paper while creating rock-paintings similar to Chumash.  Sprinkle colored sand over the glue so that it may adhere.  Shake of the rest of the sand.  Let dry.  Refer to page 7 of report (materials).             



Fact and Opinion sheet: 

Correctly identify any combination of at least 18 facts and opinions based on the reading: 4         

Correctly identify any combination of at least 15 facts and opinions based on the reading: 3         

Correctly identify any combination of at least 12 facts and opinions based on the reading: 2         

Correctly identify any combination of at least   9 facts and opinions based on the reading: 1 




  Rodolfo Padilla, EDCI 402


Title:  U.S.’ regions and people   


Grade: 3rd


Subject: History-Social Science                                                              


Standard:  3.1- Students describe the physical and human geography and use maps, tables, graphs, photographs, and charts to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context.

  • 1. Identify geographically features in their local region (e.g., deserts, mountains, valleys, hills, coastal areas, oceans, lakes). 


Time: 2 days, one hour per day   



  • TLW identify the Atlantic and Pacific oceans
  • TLW label 5 geographic regions of the United States
  • TLW create a compass with north, south, west, and east correctly labeled     



Materials: Explore America: The Land And People Before Columbus, Book 1  (book),  The Chumash People (book), outline of the United States on 18”x24” construction paper (white), paper, pencils, and markers or crayons 


Prompt:  The teacher will ask students to describe where they live in the United States without using names of states, cities, counties, landmarks, streets, and neighborhoods.  Give students plenty of time to think and answer.  “In Los Angeles we live on the southwest coast of the United States as do The Chumash”.         


Procedure:  TLW create a map of the United States.  They will use terms from the unit’s readings.  The teacher will place these terms on the board:  The Hopi, The Iroquois, The Sioux, The Chilkat, The Chumash, Pacific ocean, Atlantic ocean, Mississippi river, The Great Lakes, The Great Plains, Hopi Mesa, Desert Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Eastern Woodlands, Northwest coast, and Southwest coast.  Students will create a compass on their map.  They will also create a key to better organize their map.  Teacher will model by creating a map of the school on the board with the proper components (compass, key, room numbers, water fountains, etc.).  Students should refer to books. 


Follow-up:  Students can add states and capitals to their maps.      



Student Map of the United States: See Rubric 









United States Map of Native Americans


                                             Target                                           Acceptable                        Poor   



Overall                                3pts. Words are correctly spelled.  Attention       2pts.No more than 3 misspellings.        1pt. More than 3   

                                            to detail is evident.  Color scheme is used to        All components are addressed          misspellings.  No color   

                                            differentiate all components of map.  Name             and with attempted color scheme.         is used.  Paper is missing

                                            and date are present on back of map.                                                                                       name.  Rush job apparent.



Native Americans                3pts. Has correctly labeled The Hopi, Iroquois,       2pts. Has correctly identified                1pts. Has correctly    

                                                                   Sioux, Chilkat, and Chumash in their proper             and labeled at least 4 Native                  identified at least 3

                                                                   locations on the map.                                                  American groups.                                  Native American groups.




Geographic Features           3pts. Has correctly labeled and illustrated                2pts. Has correctly labeled                    1pt. Has correctly  

                                                                  the Rocky Mountains and Hopi Mesa.               and illustrated at least one               labeled at least one       

                                            No misspellings.                                      geographic feature.  Not                         geographic feature.



Compass                             3pts. Has created and correctly labeled a                    2pts. Has created and correctly             1pt. Created a compass 

                                                                  compass North, South, West, and East on                  labeled a compass with at least              and correctly labeled

                                                                  the outer limits of the United States outline.               3 directions.                                            at least 2 directions.   



Bodies of Water                 3pts. Has correctly illustrated and labeled The            2pts. Has correctly labeled at least        1pt. Has correctly   

                                                                 Pacific, The Atlantic, Great Lakes, and                        3 bodies of water.                                   labeled at least 2

                                                                 Mississippi River.                                                                                 bodies of water.



Regions                             3pts. Has correctly identified Northwest Coast,             2pts. Has correctly identified at            1pt.  Has correctly

                                                               Southwest Coast, Eastern Woodlands, Great                  least 4 regions.                                       identified at least 3

                                                               Plains, and Southwest Desert.                                                                       regions.



Key                                    5pts. Map key has clearly distinguished between         3pts. Map key has attempted to              1pt. Map key attempted

                                                               Native Americans, geographic features, bodies of          create a distinction between all               to distinguish between

                                                               water, and regions.  Situated on the outer limits              components of map.  Is located              at least 3 components

                                                               of United States’ outline.                                                  on the construction paper.                       of map.