Native American Museum - 3rd Grade Reading/Language Arts & Social Studies
Reading/language arts and social studies blend beautifully to provide a comprehensive learning experience involving non-fiction books, research methods, writing, geography, presentation skills, and the opening of a Native American Museum.
Students first read non-fiction books in reading class to become familiar with the organization and text features of this genre. They work on identifying main ideas and supporting details. Simultaneously, in social studies class, students explore the five regions of the United States, focusing on climate, land forms, and natural resources. These units are combined in an assignment that asks each student to research a Native American tribe in one of the five regions. Presented with the essential question “How does the geography of the region affect how the tribe lived?” students look specifically at shelter, food, clothing, roles, and skills.
Research is then turned into written reports. Students work on writing compelling introductions, well organized paragraphs that followed the structure of an introductory sentence, supporting detail, and a concluding sentence. They also write Haiku poems about their tribe and region and illustrated life as a Native American.
Once individual reports are completed, the students are placed in groups based on their assigned tribe and set to work creating models of Native American villages. Models must reflect the shelter, food, and clothing of their tribe, as well as the landscape, natural resources, and landforms of their region. Group members work together to determine what materials they will use and how they will use these materials to clearly demonstrate how their tribe used the natural resources around them, decisions that require critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity.
This cross-curricular assignment culminates in the opening of a Native American Museum featuring displays of written reports and villages. Parents, faculty, and staff are invited to the exhibit where students proudly stand by their displays ready to share information and answer questions. The assignment sets the stage for the third-grade trip to Historic Jamestown where they experience the life of the Powhatan tribe.