Third Grade Native American Block

We started our third grade year with a little block of form drawing and handwriting, which I wrote about here:  and that morphed into a full-fledged Native American block focusing on how the First Peoples lived and continue to live traditionally on the land.  I based this block around the Christopherus Homeschool Resource’s notion of the “People of the Plains”, “People of the Desert”, “People of the Land and the Mist”, etc as I really wanted to tie the different Native American tribes into their shelters and daily life as influenced by the land.  This is a major theme for third grade work on a developmental level for the nine-year-old.

We made many projects, including a leather pouch with fringe, a talking stick with feathers, small miniature tipis and canoes for our four year old’s play, a diaroma of a People of the Woodland scene, a model of a chickee for the People of the Swamps, a clay totem pole for People of the Land of the Rain and Mist,  and a large clay adobe dwelling based upon instructions in “Learning About the World Through Modeling” by Arthur Auer.  We also sang many songs, played songs on our Choroi flutes, played Inuit games for People of the Land of Snow and Ice, painted watercolors for People of the RIce, People of the Plains, People of the Land of Snow and Ice, and People of the Desert.  We also went to a Native American Pow Wow in our state.  This is also a great block for shelter building, gardening, cooking, natural plant dyeing and weaving.  We are still planning to build a large loom and tie it into some reading about the People of the Desert and their sheep even after this block ends…It was a lot to fit into one block, but we had a really good time!  We are also fortunate in our state to have a preserved Mound Dweller site that we visit at least once a year and will be doing that after this block ends as well.

I painted a narrative of  the land for each region and each region’s tribes, and also told stories from different tribes from each region.  I used the stories to review vowel sounds, word families, consonant and vowel blends for my third grader.  This is easy to do from the stories because these consonant and vowel blends are everywhere in written word  This can lead to word families such as a wigwam word village, a village of igloos, etc all with word families written on them.  My third grader created and wrote summaries with a  focus on these word families and phonics blends, and worked with spelling words each week from the stories of different tribes.

Resources that I found useful were:

  • The Christopherus Third Grade Curriculum
  • American Indian Tales and Legends by Paul Hamlyn, picked up at a thrift store
  • Songs and Stories of the North American Indians (lots of music!) by Paul Glass
  • Arty Facts:  Structures, Materials and Art Materials by Crabtree Publishing (great inspiration for our chickee and also our totem pole – which we shaped out of a singular piece of clay, not in little balls stuck together, but still good inspiration, and there is a two page spread on tipis
  • Grandfather Buffalo by Jim Arnosky – good inspiration for drawing the buffalo
  • Native Dwelling Book Series by Bonnie Shemie including Houses of snow, skin and bones:  the Far North; Houses of bark:  the Eastern Woodlands, Houses of hide and earth:  the Plains; Houses of wood:  the Northwest Coast; Mounds of earth and shell: the Southeast; Houses of adobe:  the Southwest

Please share any of your fun moments if you did a block on Native Americans in third grade.

Many blessings,


6 thoughts on “Third Grade Native American Block

  1. We just finished our first block and making a People of the woodland village out of clay and things we had collected in nature (as per Donna’s 3rd Grade curriculum) was a big highlight of the block. We also really enjoy the Bonnie Shemmie books on each group of people.

    • HI Catherine! How fun!
      I totally meant to list those Bonnie Shemie books as well — I will go back and edit now!
      Love and hugs,

  2. Completely second the Bonnie Shemie books! We really like them and are near the end of our Native American block, which is a shame, as we really love this block!
    We also went to a regional Pow Wow, and took part in some dances, as well as some gardening and played some native games. My son even received a gift from one of the Abenaki friends that we made here over the years. A very nice couple who are famed for their storytelling in our region.
    What I love at these Pow Wow’s is that I can let my children run loose without a worry, as there the spirit of “it takes a village to raise a child” still has meaning and everybody takes care of each others children. We really have a lovely time there every year!

  3. Pingback: The American Waldorf Homeschooling Curriculum | The Parenting Passageway

  4. Pingback: Free Lesson Block Plans and Ideas Grades 1-3 | The Parenting Passageway

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