Five Tips For Your Native American Lessons

Native American history is American history.  Students love learning about it, and It is also a lot of fun to teach.  I teach Native American lessons each  year, regardless of the grade I’m teaching.  Here are some tips to make your Native American lessons successful:
Five tips for teaching Native American lessons

Native American lessons around totem poles1.     Teach it with integrity. 

Make sure that you are using historical accuracy.  Native American craft projects are so much fun to do, but remember that there is a rich history behind each artifact.  Totem poles are fun to create with my students.  When, however, my students understand that for Northwest Coast Native American tribes, each totem pole was created to tell a story about their family then the project becomes meaningful. The meaning also opens the project up to authentic writing ideas for students to tell their own story with their totem pole.

2.     Remember that traditions and cultural practices changed based on Region.

Americans lived throughout North America, and as a result there are different languages, cultures, traditions, and religious practices.  Teach about the different regions:  The Northwest Coast, Eastern Woodlands, the Plains, and the Southwest Coast.  If you must focus on one group alone, be sure to let your students know which group of Native Americans you’re studying.  Finally, do not generalize the practices of a few tribes, as being the practices of all Native Americans.

Native American quilts3.     Native American history is part of American history.

Incorporate ways Native Americans have contributed to our nations’ success. One good example is the way our country used the Navajo language to create a secret code which helped us bring World War II to an end with victory.

4.     European colonization dramatically changed life for Native Americans.

As settlers from Europe, and eventually the US, spread throughout our country Native Americans were forced to migrate.  This part of America’s history is not our finest moment, nevertheless, it is important for students to learn.


Dream Catcher
5.     Native American traditions and customs are still alive today. 

Native Americans are Americans, and continue to contribute to our country each day.  Be sure to let students know this, and take the time to learn about modern day heroes with Native American lineage.

Need help planning your Native American unit?  Check out my Native American Bundle, which covers four Native American regions with fun pop up books for children to create after studying each region.  For more ideas for your Native American unit, check out this post on Native American Heritage month.

Native American Bulletin BoardNative American Pop up books

For more great ideas check out this month’s Teacher Talk.

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Five Tips For Your Native American Lessons
Multicultural teaching, Social Studies
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  • Reply
    Deann Marin
    November 17, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    Love your post. So true. that when we think if Native American history,íts our history too. Thanks for the reminder

  • Reply
    November 18, 2019 at 2:56 am

    I LOVE THIS POST! Thank you for a culturally responsive post about teaching Native American history and culture.

  • Reply
    Retta London
    November 18, 2019 at 4:01 am

    Excellent post with an important message! So important to move our Native American studies away from cultural appropriation and stereotyping. Wonderful suggestions here! Thank you!

  • Reply
    November 2019 Teacher Talk – The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative
    November 18, 2019 at 10:37 pm

    […]  ***********************************************************  Five Tips for Your Native American Lessons By Michelle Webb of Teaching Ideas For Those Who Love Teaching […]

  • Reply
    November 26, 2019 at 4:21 am

    These are great tips, Michelle! I especially like how you broke down the regions. The kids will love making pop up books!

  • Reply
    December 8, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    I teach in an area with a fairly high Native American population. I appreciate your post addressing these five tips, especially teaching with integrity. Thank you.

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