November is National American Indian Heritage Month. Also known as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, it is the perfect time to celebrate the histories, cultures, and traditions of American Indians. If you’re looking for resources to support your students’ studies, you’re in luck! There are plenty out there, and The Walking Classroom is the perfect place to start!
Begin with Biographies . . .
Thanks to The Walking Classroom, it’s easy to learn about many famous figures in American Indian history. Just pick a podcast, and begin walking, listening, and learning! There’s so much to discover!
Chief Joseph (4-#88, Combined-#110), the noted Nez Pearce chief, met Lewis and Clark on their travels, then later led his people in the Nez Pearce War. Another tribal leader, a Shawnee named Tecumseh (5-#36, Combined-#101), wanted to unite the American Indian tribes. Along with a group of them, he allied with the British during the War of 1812, but was killed in 1813.
Look at Life on the Land or Reach for the Stars!
Discover the Native American Mound Builders (4-#72, Combined-#96), a group that settled in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys. If you are fascinated by what they built, extend your study with a lesson about other types of Native American structures.
Wondering what took some of the eastern tribes west? Learn about the removal of American Indians from their homelands by listening to Trail of Tears (5-#40, Combined-#105). Afterward, continue with a video or engage in a fun follow-up activity.
Next, move from building on and traversing the land to studying the sky! Have a listen to Native American Constellations (4-#67, Combined-#146), then sample some American Indian legends. Engage in supplemental activities. Have your students write their own legend, and design a constellation to go along with it. Make it fun! Provide black construction paper and milky gel pens for students to use in creating their final product.
Take Your Study South!
Go south, and investigate the native cultures of Central and South America. Try one of more of this trio of podcasts, and focus on groups who settled in specific geographic areas:
- The Maya (4-#69, Combined-#57) lived in what is now modern-day Mexico and Central America.
- The Aztec (4-#70, Combined-#58) made their home in central Mexico.
- The Inca (4-#71, Combined-#59) settled in the Andes Mountains of South America.
Resources from National Sources . . .
Looking for more support materials? Have no fear! Free resources are in abundance! Use primary sources from the National Archives. Discover artifacts from different tribes with a virtual visit to the National Museum of the American Indian. Then, test your students skills’ with an online game, to see how much they’ve learned!
Hit the road to see historic places with the help of the National Park Service. Visit sites connected with the Trail of Tears or Lewis and Clark’s expedition, and have your students step back in time. Road trip not possible? Let your students chart their own course on a self-made map. They could also do a little research and create a historically-based journal or a scrapbook of mementos from their “journey”!
. . . and Activities across Curricular Areas!
Need some different things to try? There are plenty! Dig deeper and learn about the history behind National American Indian Heritage Month, or engage your students in other activities. They are sure to enjoy dramatizing folktales, learning new words, or preparing traditional foods!
You can even cross curricular lines, by mixing in some math, with a study on Maya time. Why not add in some art? Have your students build a Native American structure, or let them design a board game. They can also take a cue from adopter Kathleen Butler’s class, and create paper dolls (photos at right) dressed in tribal costumes! All of these are great ways for them to show their newfound knowledge.
With The Walking Classroom, there’s always something to explore! Learn about other timely topics and more ideas in future posts.