Our Grade 2 students love learning about American Indian communities. Throughout their extended social studies unit, they learn about the Eastern Woodlands tribes, Northwest Coast tribes, and indigenous peoples of the Plains. Through an abundance of crafts, active learning, and games, students learn about the different natural resources each community had, the types of shelter and clothing used, and the climate each encountered. Students share their learning over the course of the unit through teacher-facilitated discussion, debate, and reflection.
When learning about the natural resources of the Plains recently, our Grade 2 students first studied the buffalo and created "Buffalo Books" to document their learning. Next, they learned about the plentiful plants, nuts, and fruits that the Plains Indians collected and what each was used for, such as using hackberry to make medicinal tea or grinding breadroot to make cakes. Our students then created their own collection of Plains plants with sculpting clay. They had so much fun creating different colors by mixing the clay and carefully forming each plant!
This study culminates with an exploration of what happened to the people, the land, and the natural resources when colonists came to these regions, as well as discussions about present-day life for many American Indian Nations. Students write persuasive letters to President Andrew Jackson about the treatment of American Indians and design monuments to show appreciation for and acknowledgement of the Nacotchtanck, an American Indian Nation whose territory was in the Washington D.C. area.