The following three activities have been designed to introduce children to the history, culture and present-day lives of First Nations, Métis and Inuit in Canada.
Specifically, students will:
- Familiarize themselves with technologies, cultural practices and current issues of First Nations, Métis and Inuit;
- Compare older technologies with newer adaptations and recognize that First Nations, Métis and Inuit technologies and culture are not merely "historic", but are still relevant today;
- Discover symbols or ceremonies that play an important role in First Nations, Métis and/or Inuit culture;
- Learn about and discuss current issues being addressed by First Nations, Métis and/or Inuit communities in Canada.
Subjects and Strands
This lesson plan can be used by teachers in all provincial and territorial grades 3-6 social studies classes; activities can be modified for age and ability. The main subjects are:
- First Nations, Métis and Inuit culture and history.
- Present-day concerns and achievements of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.
These activities will also help students develop basic Library research skills and Interpretation/Analysis skills.
Once students have completed the Turtle Island game online, they will have been exposed to 20 items and practices associated with First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures, with brief explanations of the significance of each. To continue this experience, select one (or more) of the following activities and print out the related handouts. You may wish to have a group discussion prior to this step to answer any questions students may have about terminology or objects in the game.
- Ask students to divide into groups of two.
- Hand out the Research Challenge question sheets.
- Bring students to your school or local library and instruct them to find information on a technology that was developed by First Nations, Métis or Inuit in the past that is still being used today (it can be an item or practice from the Turtle Island game or something completely different). You may wish to have a discussion in class about potential technologies that students can research prior to visiting the library.
- Help students locate books on their topic that are related to First Nations, Métis or Inuit technologies (a list of some recommended resources can be found in Appendix A).
- Once they have found some information relevant to their chosen topic, students should answer the questions on the Research Challenge.
- After answering the questions, each group should present what they learned to the class.
- As preparation for this challenge, you may wish to invite an elder or representative from a local First Nations, Métis or Inuit community to discuss their traditional practices with the class. If this is not possible, a class discussion on the importance of tradition and culture will help students complete this activity (see recommended resources in Appendix A).
- Ask students to find out more about one of the following topics, and illustrate their findings with a poster:
- Smudging Ceremonies
- Sweat Lodge Ceremonies
- Traditional Hunting and Fishing Practices
- Medicine Wheel
- On their poster, students should represent a) the various components of the chosen item or practice b) the importance of the item or practice to the relevant cultural group by including any important equipment, symbols, or colours that relate to the event.
- This challenge is meant for older students (grades 5-6), and involves some analytical skills. You may wish to partner students in groups of two for this task.
- Ask students to look in a newspaper, magazine or online (either at home or during class time) and find an article on a CURRENT issue - positive or negative - facing a First Nations, Métis and/or Inuit community in Canada. You may wish to provide a list of preselected articles to ensure the questions on the Newspaper Challenge sheet can be answered.
- Hand out the Newspaper Challenge sheet and ask students to analyse the article by answering the questions on the handout.
- Follow-up this exercise with a class discussion on the issues raised, emphasizing the relevant historical, political and cultural roots of each particular issue, and the various points of view presented in the articles chosen.