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Northeast and Southeast Native Americans Lesson

Updated on November 6, 2015
Threading colored pasta "beads" to make Seminole-inspired necklaces
Threading colored pasta "beads" to make Seminole-inspired necklaces

This is part 1 of a 4 part hands-on unit on Native Americans. Make arrows, cook Three Sisters Stew, go on an archaeological "dig" for arrowheads, create Iroquois Bowl games, bead Seminole necklaces, and more! My lessons are geared toward 3rd-4th grade level children and their siblings. These are lessons I created to do with a weekly homeschool co-op. We meet each week for 2 1/2 hours and have 17 children between the ages of 1-13. Use these fun lessons with your class, family, homeschool co-op group, after school program, or camp!

Placing the tribes on the map of the US
Placing the tribes on the map of the US

Introduction Song and Algonquian Tribes

1. Stretch & pray.

2. Discuss Proverbs 20:12.

3. Discuss what children already know about Native Americans. Show pictures from "Children of Native America Today" by Yvonne Dennis or a similar book to show Native Americans still exist today and live in a similar manner to us.

4. Point out tribes on map. Sing the "Northeast/Southeast" Song: (Tune: "10 Little Indians")

Eastern Woodlands -

Northeast, Southeast:

Iroquois, Algonquian,

Seminole, Creek, and Cherokee

All lived in the East.

5. Show pictures of Algonquian tribes and quickly discuss characteristics. Quickly mention Pocahontas of Powhatans & Wampanoag helping pilgrims.

6. Read "Tapenum's Day" by Kate Waters.

Our Favorite Children's Books on the Eastern Coast Native American Tribes

"Small Wolf" (I Can Read Books: Level 3) by Nathaniel Benchley is about a Native American boy who tries to hunt on Manhattan Island and is shooed away by settlers. "Red Fox and His Canoe" (I Can Read Books: Level 3) by Nathaniel Benchley is a cute story of a boy who goes off fishing and is joined by numerous animals.

"Children of Native America Today" by Yvonne Dennis is great because some of the children in this book are wearing native dress (in many different styles) for traditional occasions, but they also wear modern clothes for everyday activities like sports, hiking, fun on the playground, etc. It has photographs rather than illustrations.

Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy In Pilgrim Times
Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy In Pilgrim Times

This is a great book with photographs written from the perspective of a Wampanoag boy living during the 1600's. The book follows him through his day, introducing his home, clothing, food, weapons, and more. He is disappointed that he was not accepted to become a man. He goes out hunting and spends an evening with one of the wise men in the tribe who shares with him wisdom and encourages him. There are numerous books written by the same author, Kate Waters, and we enjoy them all.

 
The True Story of Pocahontas (Step-Into-Reading, Step 3)
The True Story of Pocahontas (Step-Into-Reading, Step 3)

We have read a number of books on Pocahontas. This is one of our favorite. It has illustrations that kept the attention of my 4 year old and enough accurate information that my 7 year old could learn from the book. We didn't spend as much time on Pocahontas in this lesson because we already studied here when we learned about Jamestown during our unit on Early American Settlers.(Powhatan)

 
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7. Let children taste dried cranberries (and fresh ones if they're available).

TEACHER/PARENT 1: YOU WILL NEED: 1 package dried cranberries (and fresh ones if available)

Preparing Three Sisters Stew
Preparing Three Sisters Stew

Three Sisters Stew

8. Discuss "Three Sisters" and begin making Three Sisters Stew. Let the children each add a handful of the vegetables to the pot of water. You, the teacher/mom, can reduce the heat after it boils and add the butter, flour, and salt at the end.

2 cups canned white or yellow hominy, drained

2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped

2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash

1 1/2 cups diced peeled potatoes

5 cups water

1 1/2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Place the hominy, green beans, squash, and potatoes into a pot, and pour in water and chicken bouillon. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and simmer until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Blend flour into the butter, then stir into the soup. Increase heat to medium, and cook for 5 more minutes, or until soup thickens. Season with pepper, and serve.

TEACHER/PARENT 2: YOU WILL NEED: 2 cups canned white or yellow hominy, 2 cups cut green beans, 2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (You can do it yourself or buy cubed butternut squash sold near the bagged lettuce at Wal-Mart and some grocery stores.), 1 1/2 cups diced peeled potatoes (You can buy pre-diced potatoes, "Simply Potatoes," sold near the eggs/dairy section at our local Publix or other grocery store), 1 1/2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules, butter, flour, pepper, and cooking utensils

Making Arrows using dowel rods
Making Arrows using dowel rods

Make Arrows

9. Make arrows. I tossed pre-notched dowel rods in the yard and had the children each find a "straight stick." We pretended to sand it down and cut out the notches. I explained that for their arrowheads, they would have used whichever stone was prevalent around the area. Frequently they would use shale. Since cardboard is prevalent around our house, that's what we'll be using. (If you happen to have access to some sort of soft stone, feel free to use that instead.) They gently scraped the cardboard arrowheads on the "hard rock" (our driveway). The children then collected feathers from the ground (craft feathers that I had scattered in the yard) and then used "sinew" (yarn) from the "deer they'd killed" along with some "sap they'd boiled" (glue) to wrap the feathers and arrowhead to the dowel rod. If you have extra time follow the directions from this link to make more authentic arrows.

TEACHER/PARENT 3: YOU WILL NEED: (per child) dowel rod with 2 notches sawed in the front, an arrowhead (made out of cardboard), 3 craft feathers, 2 4-inch pieces of yarn, glue

Archaeological Dig
Archaeological Dig

Archaeological Dig

10. Mention how farmers sometimes find evidence of Native Americans when they've been digging up their soil. Have them look at their arrows and guess what part would last for hundreds of years. It's time for us to become archeologists and hunt for clues of Native American life in our yard. (Before co-op we marked out an area of dirt in a grid pattern with dowel rods and white yarn like they do on archeological sites. We put an arrowhead replica in each square and sprinkled a tiny bit of dirt over each one.) The children each got to search one square using a paintbrush.

TEACHER/PARENT 4: YOU WILL NEED: arrowheads (I purchased 100 arrowhead reproductions from shaftertx on e-bay for $11.95+6.95s/h), paintbrushes, dowel rods or sticks, & yarn

Our Favorite Picture Books on Woodlands Tribes - I read through many with my boys. These were our favorites.

"An Algonquian Year : The Year According to the Full Moon" by Michael McCurdy follows what happens each month among the Algonquian peoples. "When the Shadbush Blooms" by Carla Messinger compares the older ways of life and newer ways of life as shown when a Lenape/Delaware daughter and her grandmother pick berries. A cute folk tale on covering the Algonquin explanation for seasons is "How the Seasons Came: A North American Indian Folk Tale" by Joanna Troughton.

The Rough-Face Girl
The Rough-Face Girl

This is an Algonquin version of the Cinderella story.

 

Iroquois

11. Go back inside and briefly discuss Iroquois and show pictures from books.

12. (If you have extra time) Dance Friendship/Circle dance from "A Kid's Guide to Native Americans History" by Yvonne Dennis while listening to Native American music and hitting a "drum" (brown sturdy paper plates)

A Kid's Guide to Native American History: More than 50 Activities (A Kid's Guide series)
A Kid's Guide to Native American History: More than 50 Activities (A Kid's Guide series)

This has fabulous information about the MANY tribes and includes great projects for many of them. I got lots of activity ideas from this book.

 

13. Either make Iroquois Corn Husk Dolls or Iroquois Bowl Games (which is what we did because we couldn't find inexpensive corn husks).

a. To make Iroquois Corn Husk Dolls using the directions from this link or the simplified directions on p.4 of this link.

TEACHER/PARENT 1: YOU WILL NEED EITHER THESE SUPPLIES OR THE ONES FOR THE BELOW ACTIVITY: (per child): 6 corn husks (sold in Mexican store [used to make tamales] OR craft store) & 6 pieces of yellow string cut into 3 1/2 inch strips

Iroquois Bowl Game
Iroquois Bowl Game

b. To make Iroquois Bowl Game. Each child gets a paper plate. If desired, place wood grain contact paper over the plate to make it look like it is made from wood. We did that, but you could just leave the paper plate as is. Using black markers (we used permanent markers), have them divide the bowl into 4 sections. Then have them draw a different animal in each section. Pass out 6 white beans to each child and have them color half the white bean with their marker. Explain how to play the game and let the children try it out a bit by tossing the beans up and totaling up points depending on which animal the beans land.

TEACHER/PARENT 1: YOU WILL NEED: (per child) 1 basket paper plate holder OR paper plate & wood grain contact paper (can be purchased at Wal-mart & is used to line kitchen shelves) cut into 16 circles the size of the plates OR 1 paper plate that has some depth, 6 white beans (like dried white navy beans), 1 permanent black marker

14. If desired, while making corn husk dolls/bowl game, go through some Mohawk words which you can find in "A Kid's Guide to Native Americans History" by Yvonne Dennis.

Our Favorite Picture Books on Iroquois/Haudenosaunee

"The Song of Hiawatha" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Author), Margaret Early (Illustrator) was our favorite picture book version of Hiawatha. I also used this book to show pictures of Iroquois to the class. Also look for "Good Hunting, Blue Sky" (I Can Read Book 2) by Peggy Parish, which is a cute story about an Iroquois boy who goes out hunting on his own. Even my 2 year old enjoyed sitting through this book as it shows many animals. This is not historically accurate, but it does include certain aspects of Iroquois life presented in a manner that even a young child can enjoy.

Little Runner of the Longhouse (I Can Read Book 2)
Little Runner of the Longhouse (I Can Read Book 2)

This is a cute story about an Iroquois boy who plays a joke so that he can get maple sugar. This is not historically accurate, but it does include certain aspects of Iroquois life presented in a manner that even a young child can enjoy.

 
Song of the Hermit Thrush: An Iroquois Legend (Native American Legends)
Song of the Hermit Thrush: An Iroquois Legend (Native American Legends)

This is an Iroquois legend about how the Hermit Thrush got its singing voice. We enjoyed the sweet story and the nice illustrations.

 
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Wampum

15. Pass around shells & quickly discuss how Iroquois would make and use wampum.

TEACHER/PARENT 2: YOU WILL NEED: shells that have purple on them

16. (If you are not limited by time) Create wampum belts by following the directions from this link.

Southeast Tribes

17. Briefly discuss Southeast tribes (Cherokee & Creek/Seminole) & show pictures from books.

Favorite Books on Southeast Tribes - I read many books with my boys. These were our favorite.

We read through some of the longer picture book, "The Timucua Indians -- A Native American Detective Story" by Kelley G. Weitzel, which was really neat because it covers the archeological work done on the Timucua Native Americans in North Florida near Jacksonville.

We read some of these legends together from "Legends of the Seminoles" by Betty M Jumper. My 7 year old enjoyed them so much that he read the rest of the legends himself. This has fun illustrations. Also look for "The Seminoles Of Florida: Early Seminoles, Osceola`s Life Story,Today`s Seminoles" by Art Maynor which has some good information about Seminoles of the past and present.

If you are looking for a chapter book, try "Osceola; Seminole War Chief" by Wyatt Blassingame. I read this great 80 page chapter book with my 7 year old son. It is perfect for his current reading level. It has illustrations every few pages and has plenty of adventure. Even my 4 year old sat through some of this book.

Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing (Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor (Awards))
Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing (Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor (Awards))

This is a great picture book biography on Sequoyah. It really helps to show how intelligent the Cherokee were.

 
First Woman and the Strawberry: A Cherokee Legend (Native American Legends)
First Woman and the Strawberry: A Cherokee Legend (Native American Legends)

This is a Cherokee legend of the first man and woman. We compared and contrasted it to Adam and Eve.

 
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Seminole Necklaces

18. Create Seminole beaded necklaces. You can use craft beads, dyed pasta, or Fruit Loops. If you do dye pasta, it takes a couple days to dry, so make them a few days ahead of time.

TEACHER/PARENT 3: YOU WILL NEED: Assorted craft beads, colored pasta, or Fruit Loops (enough to make 16 necklaces) and 16 pieces of yarn with tape or glue over the end (to make it easier to string)

Three Sisters Stew
Three Sisters Stew

Three Sisters Stew & Review

19. Eat Three Sisters Stew. (The moms loved this stew. Some of the children liked it and some didn't.)

TEACHER/PARENT 4: YOU WILL NEED: 22 plastic spoons & 40 small plastic cups (for eating soup & drinking water)

20. Five minute discussion on what we learned

21. Assign tribes for end of unit powwow.

Brainerd preaching in the open-air to Native Americans.
Brainerd preaching in the open-air to Native Americans. | Source

Homework: Tribe & Missionary Reports

For each of the main tribes we studied, my sons and I completed an "Indian Tribe Report" page from this link.

We also completed a missionary report page using the form from this link. We did a report on 1-2 missionaries to Native Americans in that region each week. This week we did a report on David Brainerd. Because there are so few children's biographies written on missionaries to Native Americans, we relied heavily on the Internet. Other options of additional missionaries if you'd like to study this further include David Zeisberger, Isaac McCoy, Samuel Worcester, and the many Missionaries to Cherokees .

David Brainerd (Young Readers Christian Library)
David Brainerd (Young Readers Christian Library)

Brainerd lived an amazing life and died at a young age as a missionary to the Native American tribes in New Jersey. My 7 year old loved this book. There is a full-page black and white drawing to accompany each page of writing. It does have 224 pages, but the book is pocket-size so it can still be easily read through by children.

 

Materials Needed for This Lesson

-"Children of Native America Today" by Yvonne Dennis or a similar book to show Native Americans still exist today and live in a similar manner to us
-map of United States
-pictures of Algonquian tribes
-"Tapenum's Day" by Kate Waters
-1 package dried cranberries (and fresh ones if available)
-2 cups canned white or yellow hominy, 2 cups cut green beans, 2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (You can do it yourself or buy cubed butternut squash sold near the bagged lettuce at Wal-Mart and some grocery stores.), 1 1/2 cups diced peeled potatoes (You can buy pre-diced potatoes, "Simply Potatoes," sold near the eggs/dairy section at our local Publix or other grocery store), 1 1/2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules, butter, flour, pepper, and cooking utensils
-(per child) dowel rod with 2 notches sawed in the front, an arrowhead (made out of cardboard), 3 craft feathers, 2 4-inch pieces of yarn, glue
-arrowheads (I purchased 100 arrowhead reproductions from shaftertx on e-bay for $11.95+6.95s/h), paintbrushes, dowel rods or sticks, & yarn
-pictures of Iroquois from books or on-line
-(per child) 1 basket paper plate holder OR paper plate & wood grain contact paper (can be purchased at Wal-mart & is used to line kitchen shelves) cut into 16 circles the size of the plates OR 1 paper plate that has some depth, 6 white beans (like dried white navy beans), 1 permanent black marker
-shells that have purple on them
-pictures of Southeast tribes (Cherokee & Creek/Seminole) from books or on-line
-Assorted craft beads, colored pasta, or Fruit Loops (enough to make 16 necklaces) and 16 pieces of yarn with tape or glue over the end (to make it easier to string)
-22 plastic spoons & 40 small plastic cups (for eating soup & drinking water)

Ready for the next lesson?

Setting up a teepee during Lesson 2: Plains Native American Tribes Lesson
Setting up a teepee during Lesson 2: Plains Native American Tribes Lesson

Hunt for arrowheads, build teepees, paint totem poles, draw Pueblo chalk drawings, present on specific Native American tribes, and more during this fun four week hands on study of Native Americans.

  • Northeast and Southeast Native Americans Lesson - This is part 1 of a 4 part hands-on unit on Native Americans. Make arrows, cook Three Sisters Stew, go on an “archeological dig” for arrowheads, create Iroquois Bowl games, bead Seminole necklaces, and more!
  • Plains Native American Tribes Lesson - This is part 2 of a 4 part hands-on unit on Native Americans. Create headdresses and war shields, build a teepee, eat dried “buffalo” and more!
  • Northwest and Plateau Native American Tribes Lesson - This is part 3 of a 4 part hands-on unit on Native Americans. Decorate parfleches, fry salmon cakes, create totem poles, dramatize a dramatize potlatch ceremony, and more!
  • Southwest Native American Tribes Lesson - This is part 4 of a 4 part hands-on unit on Native Americans. Make Navajo Fry Bread, draw Pueblo chalk drawings, create Navajo sand paintings and concho-style belts, weave Apache baskets, and more!
  • Native American Powwow and Field Trip Ideas - After our 4 part unit study on Native Americans, our culminating activity was a powwow. Each child presented on a different tribe and brought food from that tribe for us to share. I am also including where we went for field trips during this unit.

Looking for all of my unit studies and lessons?

Over the years I have posted over 40 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 170 lessons. The unit studies include the Human Body, Simple Machines, Earth Science, Medieval Period, American Revolution, Pioneer Life, Countries of the World, and many more! For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons at Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies .

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Which tribe is your favorite? - Or just let me know you dropped by! Was this lens helpful? Do you have any questions, comments, or additional ideas? Please post

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    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 5 years ago from Florida

      @anonymous: I'm so glad you're able to use these lessons! We made the notches ourselves ahead of time using a saw.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi! We are using your lessons as a base for our co-op, pointing our members back to your site for additional details. For the arrows that you made, were you able to buy the dowels pre-notched or did you have to do each one yourself? Trying to budget prep time for this activity. Thanks!

    • iijuan12 profile image
      Author

      iijuan12 5 years ago from Florida

      @YogaAngel: Thank you for dropping by!

    • YogaAngel profile image

      YogaAngel 5 years ago

      Cherokee is my favorite...I guess. I have lots of Cherokee heritage.

    • iijuan12 profile image
      Author

      iijuan12 5 years ago from Florida

      @dream1983: Thank you!

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      dream1983 5 years ago

      Fantastic lens, well done

    • MJ Martin profile image

      MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 5 years ago from Washington State

      I really like this lens. Right up our alley, so to speak. I love the resources you listed, and oh the books, thank you! We 3 sisters are out looking for related links. We have studied many native ways. Congratulations on your Purple Star!

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 5 years ago

      I like the three sister stew and the arrow-Congrats

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 6 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      Very nice projects for teaching Indian history and ways. Check my elementary art lens and blog for other ideas. On the blog Kids & Glitter, one of the projects is an American Indian parfleche.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 6 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      I love this lesson plan! Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas for learning! I've added this back to my Pioneers lens. : )

    • iijuan12 profile image
      Author

      iijuan12 6 years ago from Florida

      @moonlitta: Thank you very much! I didn't know I was supposed to respond.

    • profile image

      lostreview 6 years ago

      your work is very insightful and creative!

    • profile image

      moonlitta 6 years ago

      Well congrats on your Purple star;) I don't know why you never speak back, but I truly love your work and admire your efforts:) This is a very nice surprise:)

    • I-sparkle profile image

      I-sparkle 6 years ago

      Excellent work. I love the layout and detail that you put into the content of your lens. Congrats on first class work.

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      moonlitta 6 years ago

      Creative as all your lenses! Angel Blessed.