Our Virginia, fifth grade Native American unit focuses on five tribes of early North America.  The tribes include the Inuit, Kwakiutl, Sioux, Pueblo, and Iroquois.  If your curriculum pacing guide suggests that you study Native Americans prior to the exploration unit, I would suggest reversing the order of instructional presentation.  In my experience, students are more familiar with the concepts of interaction (conflict, cooperation) as well as the natural resources of the region after three to four weeks of studying early exploration of North America.  Additionally, students more readily apply geographical themes as well as the concepts of economics and natural resources when the Native American unit is in this order.  Since I do teach exploration from the perspective of an encounter, a two way mirror, students have a better understanding of the perspectives and motivations of both the explorers and the First Americans. 

       This web page presents the Virginia SOLS, lesson plans, activities, manipulative books and charts, interactive notebooks, resources, as well as suggested literature. Using primary sources enhances student understanding and learning.  I will include suggestions and some snapshots that you can use to make sorts, create your CSI detective activities, and how to get students involved and talking about what they discover. I will add additional pictures and links to other resources as I have time.  Visit often since I am always  working on my site.


              The SOLS for this unit include:

   USI 3 The student will demonstrate knowledge of how early cultures developed in North America by:

  a.  Locating where the American Indians (First Americans) settled, with emphasis on the Arctic (Inuit), Northwest (Kwakiutl), Plains (Sioux), Southwest (Pueblo), and Eastern Woodlands (Iroquois).

  b.  Describe how the American Indians (First Americans) used their environment to obtain food, clothing, and shelter.

   USI 1 The student will develop skills for historical and geographical analysis, including the ability to:

   a.  Identify and interpret primary and secondary source documents to increase understanding of events and life in United States history to 1877.

   b.  Make connections between the past and the present.

   c.  Sequence events in U.S. history from pre-Columbian times to 1877

   d.  Interpret ideas and events from a historical perspective.

                                        Links for Resources

  Sort Activities - Includes a sort board and important characteristics of each tribe for students to cut and sort.  Great for a unit review and manipulative study guide.

   Sort Board            Sort Cards

    Letter to parents: For each unit I send a list of web sites for students to practice the SOLs for a unit.  There are games as well as practice tests for  students to work on at home.

       Web Site Games and Practice List


  SONGS AND CHANTS  Songs and chants help students not only learn and remember the content and concepts, they are involved.  I am working on additional material, but I am posting two now.

                  Songs and Chants

Unit Review Flash Cards

Students make the flash cards by cutting out the question box, gluing this to the front of an index card.  They are responsible for answering the questions on the back of each card.  Many of my students love the review cards because they are portable. They take them to the after school program, in their pockets for the bus, or in the car with their family.   This set is for the Iroquois.

              Iroquois Review Flash Cards


  INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOK The interactive notebooks assist students in many ways.  First, the process helps the student to identify the main ideas and details in reading text.  Second, students are learning a study skill as they note the important concepts.  To view a few of my interactive note pages, click on the examples below.

 Iroquois      Southwest     Northwest









Primary Source Documents

  There are two pages of "snap shot" pictures that I  use in this unit.  Those included in this web page are NOT all of the primary source materials that I use.  The pictures on the pages can be used to build posters, create category activities, sort by natural resource, life style, geography, etc.  To begin,  usually select ONE major picture as the "crime scene".  This picture will portray the image of the location of the tribe as well as have details to include something about their natural resources, culture, etc.  The students are then "crime scene detectives."  In groups they interact to discuss the "big picture" and then "zoom" in for the details.  After they have drawn a few conclusions about the "5-Ws (who, what, when, where, why, and how) they tell the story they have created.  To view  more primary documents, visit

               Primary Source page

  To view some great activities with primary sources, visit  This site is wonderful.  It is created by Virginia teachers working under a grant with the Library of Congress.

                      Literature Books and Book Talks

 The book list suggested below represents a small representation of the literature that can be integrated into this unit.  Additionally, the books I use are differentiated based on reading levels for guided reading groups.  Each group receives one of the historical fiction books referencing the different tribes we are studying in this Native American unit.  At the end of their literature group activities, the students prepare a culminating activity to share what they learned about the Native group as well as discuss the theme and plot of their novel.   I have also listed literature guides that are available.  However, there are many resources available on the internet for each novel.  If you are reluctant to integrate literature groups at this time, start small.  Your kids will truly surprise you as you observe their level of involvement and creativity. After each presentation, the other  students often are motivated to read one of the other books.  Some of their final projects are pictured below.  

                                                     Happy Reading

             Sing Down The Moon - Southwest Navajo


                                   Julie of the Wolves - Alaska 

                              Literature Guides                 

                      Island of the Blue Dolphins - Pacific Coast

                                 Literature Guides

             Sign of the Beaver - Northeast 

                                Literature Guides  


                        PLAINS TRIBE-SIOUX


                           Magic Tree House

                 Native American Group Literature Project

                JULIE OF THE WOLVES

                            By:  Ammara, Cecilia, Gabriela

                    More pictures coming soon...   

  Sing Down the Moon

Jennifer, Bryan, Damon, Kaela, William, Jashuan


  Buffalo Before Breakfast


             Zianni, Adrian, Antonie


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           All materials, unless otherwise credited, are the property of B. Froehlich, Primary Teachers web pag.

                  All Rights Reserved, 2007