AMERICANS CULTURE LESSON PLAN
Research materials on Native Americans (Navaho): trade books, history articles, Internet, etc.
Turquoise, white, yellow and black construction paper
Scissors, white glue, tape, pencils, markers
A non-toxic adhesive/sealer
Plastic silver beads
Cultural Comparison printable
Navajo Jewelry printable
In a class discussion, ask students:
What is culture? (Possible answer: attitudes, beliefs and traditions shared by a group of people)
What makes up a culture? (Possible answers: food, dress, beliefs, activities, religion, etc.)
What is a cultural artifact? (Possible answer: something that represents a culture or has meaning to a culture)
Tell students that today they will be learning about the Navaho (Na-va-ho) people, a Southwestern Native American tribe. Explain to students that we will be learning about Navajo culture. Read a short trade book or historical article about the Navajo to spark students' interest. Create a K-W-L chart with the students, listing information that already know about the Navajo in the first column and what they want to know about the Navajo in the second column (the third column, What We Learned, can be revisited after later in the lesson or unit).
Learning About the Navaho:
Divide the class into small groups of 4-5 students. Assign each cooperative group a topic about Navaho culture: food, dress, traditions, religious beliefs/holidays, family structure, artwork, trade, land, etc.
Students can work together to research their topic using trade books, the Internet and other resources. Students will present 10 interesting facts about their topic to the class. Optional: have the audience create a running fact sheet (notebook paper) to take notes on the presentations.
Navajo Cultural Artifacts (Bead Art Project):
Once students' have learned about the Navajo, they can create a cultural artifact. Explain to students that the number four is very important in Navajo culture. To these people, four represents the number of mountains that surround their land, the number of seasons, the number of directions, etc.
Draw a direction compass on the board (North, South, East and West) and explain to students that each direction is represented by a color: North is black, South is turquoise, East is white and West is yellow. Tell students that they are going to make a direction necklace, since the Navajo created beautiful beaded jewelry. The four bead colors will represent the four directions. Tell students that they may also use silver beads (plastic ones can be bought at the store or students can use tin foil) to represent the fact that some Navajos were silversmiths because the tribe intermixed and traded with Southwestern settlers.
Pass out a
copy of the beadwork directions to each student and using the materials, model how to create the necklace. Pass out materials and let students start working.
Students who finish their jewelry can complete the Comparing Cultures graphic organizers. Students will use their knowledge and notes to write down aspects of the Navajo culture, as well as aspects of their own culture. These can be shared in a class discussion or in partners.
In grading the students' bead project, have them present the beads to you and tell you what each bead color represents.
Revisit the K-W-L chart at the end of the lesson to answers students' initial questions about the Navaho and fill in the third column to brainstorm what they have learned.
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