Lesson Plan Navajo Culture and ELA

Navajo Culture and ELA

By Christy Hanson


Dine’ Culture Standards (3.PO2) I will develop an understanding of Dine’ way of life through Iina’. I will implement and recognize the Dine’ lifestyle. I will present the stories related to Land and Water Beings.

Dine Government (3.PO3) Executive Branch (3.PO3): I will describe the purpose of at least one subdivision. Legislative Branch (3.PO3): I will describe the Navajo Nation election process. Judicial Branch (3.PO4): I will analyze the purpose of a judicial system.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

⏰ Time

45 minutes

📲 Technology Required

Device with web-browser – Chromebook, laptop or desktop computer, phone or tablet

📃 Summary

Students learn about Diné (Navajo) culture from multiple perspectives, first through a presentation on Navajo tribal government and its three branches (executive, legislative, and judicial) that are modeled after the federal government, as well as its security branch. Also included are four cultural laws governing Navajo leadership. A written assignment exploring roles of effective governance follows as assessment. The lesson concludes with a game, Making Camp Navajo, that discusses Diné traditions in sheep ranching and rug weaving.


Presentation on Diné Governance

Use the slide presentation, Navajo Civics, to introduce students to the history and structure of government on the Navajo Nation.

Download this map of the Navajo Nation to view its five agencies: Chinle, Eastern, Fort Defiance, Northern, and Western.

Class Discussion on Important Issues in Governance

Teachers can use the questions on Slide 26 of the presentation or edit the slides to add their own questions.

Writing Assignment

Students select one or more of the writing prompts and write an essay addressing the prompt. Teachers can use slides 27-31 for the prompts or create their own.

Play a Game

The lesson concludes with the Making Camp Navajo game. Students should play through the introduction and then the activities under the LIFE choices.

Choose Numbers, Life or Random
Choices Screen – click LIFE button
Sheep image, weaving image and girl with sheep
Life Choices – Select and Play each of these


Three types of assessment are included in this lesson. The brainstorming session provides a gauge of the understanding of the class as a whole of the types of issues that can be addressed by government. The writing assignment serves as an individual assessment of student understanding of government. Teacher reports of data collected automatically in Making Camp Navajo document student completion of the activities.

Discover Dairy: Cow Life Cycle

📖 Standards

CCSS.Math.Content.6.RP.A.1 Understand ratio concepts and use ratio reasoning to solve problems.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.

📲 Technology Required

Computer with printer to print lab work sheets, for in-class use. Computer or tablet with Internet access for home use.

Heads up! For the lab in this lesson you will need spinach, carrots, cheese sticks, orange juice, and a weight scale and/or measuring cups. It is not required to do the lab 2 component but recommended.

⏰ Time

60-70 minutes

📃 Summary

This cross-curricular lesson is from Discover Dairy. Students read a passage on the life cycle of dairy cows. A guided class discussion answers questions on the life cycle. The lesson concludes with a challenging lab in which students create a healthy cow diet.


NOTE: While we create most lessons on the Growing Math site ourselves, we do include links to other lessons that are exemplary in their cross-curricular, standards-based design. This lesson is one of two “lessons we love” from Discover Dairy. The entire 14-page guide with two lessons can be downloaded here, including reading passages, lab assignments and answer keys.

You can also go to the Discover Dairy site, which requires a free registration and login to download individual parts of the lesson and see the other lessons they have available.

Read a passage on the life cycle of a dairy cow

You’ll find this on page 14 of the handout linked above or download both reading assignments here (it’s only two pages) or copy the link to assign in your Google classroom to read on line.

Class Discussion on Life Cycle

Using the discussion questions on page 4 of the complete lesson plan, discuss the dairy cow life cycle with students based on their knowledge from the reading.

dairy cow

Lab Exercise #2 Feeding a Dairy Cow

Each student or group will need a scale or measuring cup and the following:

  • 1 cup spinach
  • Baby or whole carrots
  • 1 cheese stick
  • One 12 oz. cup of orange juice

Distribute the materials needed and the lab assignment (pages 11 and 12 of the complete lesson plan or you can link directly to those here, if you want to assign in Google classroom or other management system. Note that link includes both labs 1 and 2.) Lab explanation from page 5 of the complete lesson plan.

Teachers should explain that a healthy, well-cared-for cow will give more milk. The way farmers care for their cows and how they feed them has helped to increase the amount of milk cows give over the past 50 years.  Just like our diets, a cow’s diet must be balanced based on her stage of life. For instance, a baby calf requires higher energy foods to fuel her rapid growth.  A cow that has just given birth requires higher levels of certain nutrients to replenish her body. Farmers must adjust rations to accommodate those needs.  Farmers work closely with an animal nutritionist and use a variety of feed products to balance cows’ diets to meet their precise nutrient needs using a variety of feed products.  Farmers use a large feeding scale to make sure each cow gets the right amount of each feed. Those feeds are blended together to provide a balanced diet called a Total Mixed Ration (TMR). During the lab, students should use the carrots, celery, cheese and orange juice to balance a diet to meet the required nutrients listed on the lab worksheet. They should use a weight scale to measure the right amount of each feed. If they don’t have a weight scale, they can use measuring cups to determine the amount. Complete the ratios in the worksheet.

– Discovery Dairy

Answer keys for this lab exercise as well as for the lab for the selective breeding lesson can be found here.

Review and Summarize Dairy Cow Life Cycle: What We’ve Learned

Review questions and summary can be found on pages 5 and 6 of the complete lesson plan.


This lesson includes three types of assessment – the initial class discussion gives an estimate of the general class understanding of the dairy cow life cycle. The lab provides individual student data on mastery of both the science and math concepts. The concluding review questions can be poised to the whole class or given to students as a quiz.

Related lesson

Discover Dairy: Selective Breeding

Decimals, Epidemics & Fly Vomit – It’s science!


CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NBT.B.7 Add, subtract, multiply, and divide decimals to hundredths

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.MD.A.1 Convert among different-sized standard measurement units within a given measurement system (e.g., convert 5 cm to 0.05 m), and use these conversions in solving multi-step, real world problems.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.6 Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.


Students will need a phone or tablet to play the game.


75 minutes

Lesson Summary

Learn decimals while weighing a flies and the food they eat. The lesson begins with a game on decimals and the Aztec smallpox epidemic, then moves to another disease spreader – flies. Students learn the role flies play in our ecosystem, how they eat and reproduce.


1. Play a game

Play AzTech: Empiric Empire to learn basic conversions from fractions to decimals. Empiric Empire is available free for iPad or iPhone and for Android phones. As an added bonus, students will also learn about epidemics. It’s worth mentioning that the smallpox epidemic was spread by viruses but a lot of other diseases are spread by flies.

Note: For summer learning, you may want to just copy the paragraph above into your Google classroom for students to download the games to their phones.

2. Watch a video

I pasted in a link starting after the first minute because that is mostly telling you to like/ subscribe and comment. Ah, YouTube!

Bell Ringer – What if flies went extinct ?  This 7:33  minute video discusses flies as agricultural pests and disease vectors, but also their benefits as scavengers eating up decaying carcasses, pollinators and animal feed.

Here is the link if you’d like to post in your Google classroom or other CMS for students to watch at home.

3. Read about flies & perform a demonstration

Recommended reading: Eat like a house fly. Houseflies and barf

What really happens when a house fly lands on your food? Print out this page from Science World – Canada , include the link in your Google classroom or other CMS for students to read, or just read the page to students during class. The demonstration requires vinegar, jello and a turkey baster – things many people have around the house or can pick up easily at a local store. It also includes a list of vocabulary words and definitions, which fits perfectly with our philosophy of direct teaching of academic language.

4. Complete word journal

This lesson provides the opportunity for students to learn many words, in the reading, in the videos and possibly in the Empiric Empire game as well. Students add words or terms with which they are unfamiliar to their word journal. Some teachers call it a personal dictionary, to others it’s a word journal. Regardless, the goal is the same, for students to record new words, give a dictionary definition and “make the word their own”. This can be done by rewriting the definition in their own words, using the word in a sentence or including an illustration of the word.

Two dictionary sites to recommend for definitions are below. An added bonus to mention to students is that they can hear words pronounced.

Since students often ask for an example, here is an example you can link in your lesson

The personal dictionary assignment, with all links, can be found here. Feel free to copy and paste into your Google classroom or other site, or print out for your class.

5. Presentation on Decimals in Science (Fly Experiment)

Give this presentation on using decimals to weigh flies, their containers and the food they eat to answer the question, “Do flies really eat 10 times their weight each day?”

Watch a second video

I recommend watching the first 5 1/2 minutes of the Facts About Flies – Secret Nature video  to give the students some idea about both flies as vectors of disease but also important scavengers consuming decaying material. The full documentary is 49 minutes, which I personally found to be more about flies than I wanted to know.


Three types of assessment are included in this lesson.

  1. The Word Journal assignment is completed individually and submitted.
  2. Math questions answered within the Empiric Empire game are scored automatically with immediate feedback and student results can be viewed in the teacher reports.
  3. Math questions posed within the presentation can be answered as a whole class, having students hold up a card with their answer or with individual students responding and asking the rest of the class to agree or disagree.

Differentiated instruction

Review of Decimal Addition

One-minute step-by-step video from TeacherTube on Adding Decimals may be helpful for students who need a review of decimal addition.

Watch the whole video

For students who are extremely interested in insects, watching the entire 49 minute video of Facts about Flies will satisfy their curiosity

Experiments with fly larva

For teachers who want to do a deep dive into the role flies in consuming food waste, the experiment above uses 100 black soldier fly larvae. I am extremely impressed with this lesson because not only does it include a link to where to buy maggots (on Amazon, of course) but also answers the obvious question of what do you do with 100 fly larvae after your experiment is over. The answer is that you feed these to your class reptile. Would I bring 100 maggots into my classroom? Not in a million years, but that is why I am not an entomologist.

You DO have a class snake, don’t you?

Analogies with sheep and goats


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.7.5.B Use the relationship between particular words (e.g., synonym/antonym, analogy) to better understand each of the words.

Dine’ Culture Standards (3.PO2) I will develop an understanding of Dine’ way of life through Iina’. I will implement and recognize the Dine’ lifestyle. I will present the stories related to Land and Water Beings.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.EE.B.3 Solve multi-step real-life and mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form (whole numbers, fractions, and decimals)


25 -30 minutes including game play


A device with a web-browser – PC, Mac or Chromebook – or phone or tablet.


Students play a game which teaches about raising lambs, the uses of sheep and the ratio of single to twin lambs. The lesson ends with definitions of sheep and goat vocabulary and examples of analogies with sheep and goats. Optionally, students may complete a word journal assignment.


Start with a game

Students begin by playing Making Camp Navajo. You can just copy and paste these instructions into your Google classroom or other system, or just copy and show in a projector on the board – old school rules!

You can assign your students usernames and passwords or you can send us a list and we will register your students for you. Email the list to . Your students can create their own usernames and password but we do not recommend this, mostly because they will forget what they entered.

Play Making Camp Navajo

There are three activities students should play. If you have not played before, the game will start you at the introduction. If you are a returning user, log in and click on the Life tab.

Earn page with choices of Numbers, life and random

Learn about sheep in Navajo daily life

On the LIFE page, you’ll see two photos with sheep in them. Play both of those sections.

Next, go to the numbers page and pick this option to learn a little more about sheep.

Many lambs

Now that you have read the instructions, here is the link to go to Making Camp Navajo.

Learn the vocabulary

Now that students have learned about sheep, let’s learn some sheep and goat vocabulary using this Google slides presentation. The presentation ends with two examples of analogies, then asks the students to give their own examples of analogies.


This lesson has two types of assessment. Making Camp Navajo automatically records students answer to problems in the three game activities, assessing the Diné and math standards. The analogies produced by students address the ELA standard.

Differentiated Instruction

For students who struggle with vocabulary, including English learners, you may wish to include a word journal assignment. Some teachers call it a personal dictionary. Regardless, the goal is the same, for students to record new words, give a dictionary definition and “make the word their own”. This can be done by rewriting the definition in their own words, using the word in a sentence or including an illustration of the word.

Two dictionary sites to recommend for definitions are below. An added bonus to mention to students is that they can hear words pronounced.

Since students often ask for an example, here is an example you can link in your lesson.

The personal dictionary assignment, with all links, can be found here. Feel free to copy and paste into your Google classroom or other site, or print out for your class.

Related lesson

The Navajo-Churro: America’s first domestic sheep

Food Deserts, Indigenous Seeds and Data Stories


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.3 Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.SP.B.4 Display numerical data in plots

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.SP.B.5 Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.RP.A.2 Recognize and represent proportional relationships between quantities

⏰ Time

70 – 90 minutes, including cooking activity

📲 Technology Required

A computer with projector or smart board is required to show the video and presentation to students.


This truly cross-curricular assignment begins by watching a video about seed rematriation, that is returning Indigenous seeds to their original lands. They read a short booklet on cooking and nutrition, then do a cooking activity at school or home. A presentation on food deserts includes definitions, data and actions students can take. Students add new words or phrases to their word journal and complete a math assignment using data from the presentation. Advanced students play a game to learn more math and Navajo culture.

📚 Lesson

Watch this video seed rematriation, that is, growing Indigenous seeds in the lands from which they came originally.

Read a short booklet on cooking and nutrition

Scrambled eggs and spinach – available here as a free pdf from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is directed at parents but should be at the reading level of most sixth- or seventh-graders.

Make some eggs

It will be a lot more fun for your class if you can actually go to the school kitchen and cook some eggs. Reading the booklet above will give the recipe, optional ingredients and much more. The only 3 ingredients you absolutely need are eggs, spinach and vegetable oil or butter.

Alternative assignment

If you absolutely cannot go to the kitchen at school because of scheduling, safety regulations or other reasons, here are two other options.

  • Assign this activity for students to do with their parents at home. Here is the link for the recipe. You can make this an extra credit activity because not everyone has parents who have time or money to run out for eggs and spinach. Optional: If students have access to a phone or tablet, have them record themselves/ their parent cooking.
  • You can watch a video of kids making the recipe , but doing it with your class will be more fun.

Listen to/ read presentation on food deserts

What if there was nowhere to buy eggs, spinach or even seeds near where you live? You can use this Google slides presentation to present to students in class or assign them to read on their own.

Complete word journal

Students add words or terms with which they are unfamiliar to their word journal. Some teachers call it a personal dictionary, to others it’s a word journal. Regardless, the goal is the same, for students to record new words, give a dictionary definition and “make the word their own”. This can be done by rewriting the definition in their own words, using the word in a sentence or including an illustration of the word.

Two dictionary sites to recommend for definitions are below. An added bonus to mention to students is that they can hear words pronounced.

Since students often ask for an example, here is an example you can link in your lesson

The personal dictionary assignment, with all links, can be found here. Feel free to copy and paste into your Google classroom or other site, or print out for your class.

Math assignment: Using statistics and ratio to answer questions

Copy the assignment into your Google classroom or other system or print out for students. Students will use the data from the Food Deserts presentation to answer questions about percentages. They will also create pie charts (circle graphs) and bar charts. You can have students do this with a calculator or pencil and paper or using Google sheets.

ANSWER KEY for assignment

If you’d like a spreadsheet where these tables and graphs were created, you can find it here.

Differentiated Instruction: For Advanced Students

Challenge more advanced students to watch this video on Making Mounds for Three Sisters Gardens. The vocabulary is a little more advanced than the typical sixth-grade with terms like “nitrogen”, “fish emulsion”. In the first farm, they planted 80 mounds. Students should watch the video and figure out from the information given how wide the plot must be .

More advanced students can also play the Making Camp Navajo game, available from the Games for Kids portal on this site, to learn more about farming and expand their knowledge of ratio and proportion.


Word journals are graded based on correct or incorrect definition. Data analysis assignments assess student achievement of math standards above.

Weaving in Navajo history and culture

by Christy Hanson


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
Dine’ Content Standard for Grades 7-8 (Government) 4.PO.2 – I will identify changes in customs and goods.
Dine’ Content Standard for Grades 7-8 (Culture) 1.PO.2 – I will show responsibility by knowing the stories related to my belongings.

⏰ Time

30 minutes

📲 Technology required

This lesson requires a Chromebook, PC or Mac computer with an Internet connection.

📃 Summary

Students watch a video by Albert Brent Chase, a longtime Navajo culture educator. Next, students read a passage on sheep resources and rug weaving in Navajo history. The video, How It’s Made: Navajo Rugs is also provided in this lesson. Students end the lesson playing Making Camp Navajo and designing their own rugs.

📚 Lesson

Set up the lesson by watching a video

Arizona lands rug, by Albert Chase

In this five-minute video, Navajo weaver Albert Chase gives an overview of creating a pictorial rug with Germantown yarn.

Read a passage on sheep resources after the Navajo Long Walk

The article , Post-Long Walk Sheep Resources and Rug Weaving , can be added to your own Google drive and assigned to students. It can be printed out or students can complete on their computers.

Complete two vocabulary assignments

Students provide definitions of vocabulary words based only on the context clues from the reading assignment. Next, they look up the definition of each word in the dictionary and compare their original definitions with those in the dictionary.

The ANSWER KEY for questions assigned on the reading can be found here.

Optional (but highly recommended) video on how Navajo rugs are made

This five-minute video covers every aspect of rug-making from creating yarn from raw wool to creating different colors of dye to weaving on a loom.

Make their own rugs in the Making Camp Navajo game

This game teaches more information about Navajo weaving and allows the students to weave their own virtual rugs. Instructions are below and can also be found in this Google doc that can be added to your Google classroom.

Instructions for students:

  1. Go to the Games Portal for Kids here
  2. Scroll down and select Making Camp Navajo
  3. Go to the page that gives choices of numbers, life or random. Pick LIFE. (If this is your first time playing the game, you will have to play through the introduction to get to this page.
  4. Select the middle picture, the one with the woman weaving, to learn more about Navajo weaving and make your own rugs.
Earn page with choices of Numbers, life and random


This lesson plan is assessed through the student assignments for vocabulary definitions. The student completion of the rug-making assignment can be documented by screenshots of their rugs. Students design a digital rug design in the Rug Design Tool and share the results with the class. The teacher can then post them in an online gallery for everyone to see.

Scrambled States: Ag in Language Arts

📖 Standard

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.4 Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.

⏰ Time

Three to five hours total. We recommend spreading this lesson over 3 to 5 days.

📲 Technology Required

None required. Students may used a computer or mobile device to access the states’ page or to watch a video on the Scrambled States but these resources are also available in print.

📃 Summary

Teachers read The Scrambled States of America book, or have students read book or watch video. Students select a state from National Ag in the Classroom site and take notes on their state, including new vocabulary. Students read a book related to their state – link to a list is provided. Students complete a notes page and then use this page to write an informational essay.

📚 Lesson

Begin with The Scrambled States of America – book, audio book or video

Begin the lesson by reading the book The Scrambled States of America aloud to the class or you may play the audiobook in class along with the book (which I recommend). It’s very likely your public library has the audiobook available for free download. Students learning at home can download the audio book on to a phone or tablet. If you prefer, you can have students watch the video, in class or at home.

Students Select a State and Learn about its Agriculture

National Ag in the Classroom site has an agricultural facts sheet for every state. You can add this link to their assignment in Google classroom (or write it on the chalkboard – )

If your students don’t have access to devices or Internet, you can print out the 51 sheets (including the District of Columbia) here.

Update their Word Journals

As some of the words in the fact sheets may be new to fourth-graders, this is a great opportunity to update their word journals, what some teachers refer to as a “personal dictionary”. If this is your students’ first experience using a word journal, you may wish to give them this Google doc to read or read it together as a class, “Creating your personal dictionary.

Read a Book Related to Agriculture in the State

Time required for this activity will vary depending on your students’ reading speed and choice of books. I recommend allotting 20 minutes per day over 2-3 days. If your school library does not have these available, you may be able to get from your public library. Also, remember, many public libraries have ebooks your students can read on any computer, tablet or phone. If you have not taken advantage of these services, now might be a great time to introduce them,

The Illinois Ag in the Classroom program has produced More Scrambled States of Agriculture a combination of agricultural fact sheets. reading list, agriculture science and art activities. Recognizing that students at a range of reading levels, books included range from Pre-K to grade 5-9 reading level, with reading levels listed next to each book. My favorite quote, from the book, “A Hog Ate My Homework.”

I would like to be a farmer when I grow up, because farming is easy!
They don’t need to go to school, because they just play in the dirt and ride around on ATVs. When it rains, they can just stay inside and play video games. When the sun comes back out, the corn just grows out of the ground by itself. In the fall, someone comes by, cuts it down, and gives the farmer a bunch of money. They use that money to buy candy and video games. The end.

– Willie

Take Notes

Since this is likely your students first experience with research, I recommend the “foldable notes” to help them prepare. All they need to do is fold a piece of paper in half, then fold it again and a third time so now they have eight boxes. You can also have them use a Google slide with 8 boxes but often students like the physical activity of creating their notes.

Next, label each of the 8 boxes.

Crops    Livestock      Farms    Climate

Soil        Interesting    Book      Quote

You can use the foldable notes example here since students almost always ask for an example. I recommend having students go back to the state agricultural fact sheet and the book and take notes after having done the reading. It’s not a bad habit to learn to re-read something for information you may have missed the first time.

Write a State of Agriculture Report

As this is likely to be the first informational essay students have written, I recommend providing students an example and sentence stems as prompts. You can find an example in this Google doc that uses the foldable notes from above to write an essay. The first page of the Google doc gives an outline, with sentence stems. The second page shows a completed informational essay.


Three forms of assessment are included in this assignment.

  • In the personal dictionary or word journal, students are required to include a minimum of five words with definitions for 50 points. Each word, spelled correctly is 2 points and a correct definition is another 8 points. I deduct a point for grammar or spelling errors in the definition, but only one.
  • For the foldable notes assignment, each note is 10 points for a total of 80 points. I do not grade grammar or spelling in the notes because these are for the student, however, I do highlight errors and tell students there will be a deduction if the error is in their essay.
  • The essay is on a 0- 100 scale. I give 5 points each for title and author and 10 points for each of the prompts completed with one or more grammatically correct sentences. If a student does not respond to one of the prompts but instead includes other relevant information, for example, the number of people working in agriculture, that would be acceptable, too.

Related Lesson

It’s recommended that this lesson be followed by Scrambled States: Ag in Math Class.

Primary and Secondary Sources with Buffalo Hunting


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

⏰ Lesson Time

40-60 minutes


If you would like to incorporate the game, students will need access to computers with Spirit Lake installed on them.

In class: If you are teaching in person, you will need a laptop and projector for your slideshow presentation. If you want to include Spirit Lake gameplay, your students will need access to Mac or Windows computers that have Spirit Lake installed, along with their assigned usernames and passwords. Alternatively, Making Camp Dakota can be played on any device.

Remote: Students need internet connections to see your presentation, watch the videos, and view and enter answers on their worksheets.

📃 Summary

Discover why primary sources are important with a story about Dakota buffalo hunting. Have your students watch the following two videos back to back within the downloadable slideshow. These two videos together are great resources for a lesson on the value of primary sources. Included are questions for discussion and critical thinking. Students can do a primary sources scavenger hunt at the Library of Congress (LOC) website. Included in the slides are two curated museum videos about American bison.

Example usable to teach with primary sources: Black and white video of galloping buffalo

📚 Lesson

Present the lesson Buffalo Hunting – Primary and Secondary Sources. The slideshow comes with several examples of primary and secondary sources from the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian museum, and YouTube.

Videos with Primary and Secondary Sources

Two videos about the Dakota buffalo hunters are presented within the presentation for your students to compare and contrast. The first video contains primary sources, and the second is an interpretation of the narration using animation as a secondary source.

If you want to go directly to the two videos included in the Google slides presentation, these are linked below.

Video with Primary Sources
Video with Secondary Sources

Questions included within the Google Slides presentation

These can be discussed together in class or assigned to students to answer individually.

  1. Reflect: Which video did you like better? What did you like about it?
  2. Compare and Contrast: Was there any information you could get from the first video that you did not see in the second?
  3. Explain: Do you think both videos are equally accurate?
  4. Analyze: The first video used photos and paintings. The second video used animation to help tell the story. Both were made about the buffalo hunt. Which source did you think was more trustworthy? Why?
  5. Synthesize: Imagine if you could add some more facts to the video using primary and secondary sources. List one primary source you would add. List one secondary source.

Differentiated Instruction

Note: For differentiated instruction, you can have students select one or two of the questions to answer. In more advanced classes, you may wish to discuss how the oil painters could be biased in their representation of their subjects, and how even photos could be biased in the subjects photographers chose to capture.

Virtual Scavenger Hunt

  1. Review the copy and paste functions with your students as learning a key introductory component of online research using the LOC. Enclosed are instructions for students to help walk your students through.
  2. Have students research primary sources at the LOC website. Click the following link for downloadable graphic organizers to distribute to your class. One answer model has been filled out. Students will copy and paste URLs for six primary sources from the LOC site and label three of them.


Spirit Lake is an adventure game with multiplication, division, and geometry practice that plays on Mac or Windows computers. This is tied in with Dakota culture and history. You can have your students play for 20-30 minutes, hunt rabid wolves, and hunt buffalo. Look out for primary and secondary sources!

Don’t have a Mac or Windows computer? Making Camp Dakota can be played on the web and also includes content with buffalo hunting, as well as examples of primary and secondary sources.


To check their data, you need your Spirit Lake teacher data reports username and password and your students’ usernames and passwords roster added to your account for Spirit Lake.

Related Lesson

Primary and secondary sources

Primary and Secondary Sources


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

⏰ Time Required

40 minutes

📲Technology Required

Students must have access to laptops, desktop computers, or tablets with an internet connection. Students also need a camera for taking pictures of their primary and secondary sources to email to the teachers.

📃 Summary

This history lesson for Grades 5-6 introduces primary and secondary sources as it relates to history.

This 40-minute lesson begins with a 7-10 minute presentation on sources with some formative assessment using manipulatives. Students can learn about secondary sources through the telephone game presentation. Students then delve into two different types of sources: primary and secondary sources. Students can do a KidCitizen online module about Primary Sources. The lesson provides a summative assessment activity where students generate two primary sources and one secondary source about an event in their lives.

📚 Lesson

Introduce the Lesson
The lesson slideshow, Primary and Secondary Sources, begins with the telephone game. Students will gain more understanding of why sources are important to keep track of.

Critical Thinking

Students think, “Why are sources important for studying history?” Question words are included in the slides: “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How?”

KidCitizen Module

The link for the Primary Sources interactive module is included in the slideshow. Students undergo a self-paced but short online module to understand primary sources. Also, you can click here to explore the module and copy the URL.


This activity, which does incorporate writing, is included in the slideshow, but is also written below. Just copy and paste the text into your Google classroom or other LMS.

You are living history! Tell the class about an event that happened in your life using primary and secondary sources. You may change the number of sources they submit to you.

  1. THINK: What resources do you need?
  2. SELECT two primary sources in your home about yourself and one secondary source. Label your sources as Primary Source and Secondary Source. 
  3. Take a picture of your two primary sources and of your secondary source. Email it to your teacher. 
  4. Write a paragraph about your historical life event in your own words using your sources as proof of what happened.

Venn Diagram: ELA Lesson 6


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.3 Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.


45 minutes including game play


A device with a web-browser – PC, Mac or Chromebook – or phone or tablet.


This is the sixth in a 10-unit English/ Language Arts unit centered around a visit to their grandmother that integrates English/ Language Arts and indigenous history. Grandma and her grandchild disagree on their favorite president. After completing a question on the Venn diagram comparing the two presidents, students create their own Venn diagram comparing the two Making Camp games they have played.

📚Lesson Plan

1. Introduce the Lesson

Use the Google slides presentation to introduce the lesson. This presentation also explains Venn diagrams and directly teaches the vocabulary words, “set”, “union” and “intersection in the context of Venn diagrams.

1a. Students complete assignment using Venn Diagram

After learning about Venn diagrams, students use the diagram included in the presentation to answer questions on similarities and differences between the two presidents. The Venn diagram assignment is linked in the Google slides presentation. You can also find it here.

The answer key for the Venn diagram assignment is here.

2. Students create their own Venn diagram

In this assignment, also included in the Google slides presentation, with example, students create a Venn diagram of the two games they have played, Making Camp Premium and Making Camp Lakota.

3. Making Camp Premium and Making Camp Lakota

Students may wish to play the two games to complete the assignment above.

Related lessons

The previous lesson in this unit is Vocabulary in the Attic.

The next lesson in this unit is Author’s Purpose.


This lesson plan includes three formative assessments. First, the students complete an assignment using a Venn diagram. Second, students create their own Venn diagram. Third, students complete activities in Making Camp Premium or Making Camp Lakota which are recorded and scored automatically.

You can view your students’ progress on mastering this standard by viewing your Making Camp Premium Teacher Reports. You can view the Making Camp Premium reports here.