Introduction to Lakota/Dakota Oral Histories & Storytelling

by Jen Mellette


ND H.3-5.3, & ND H.3-5.9 Describe North Dakota Native American Essential Understandings. Describe how individuals and groups contributed to North Dakota.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.5.3 Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.


 45-60 minutes


Computer with internet connection

📃 Summary

Students read a Lakota story on the end of the world. The teacher gives a short presentation on oral history as used by the Lakota/Dakota. Students play a game with stories from Dakota or Lakota culture. Students present their own examples of oral history in writing or orally. Assessment is in oral or written presentation and via data reports on answers in Making Camp Lakota or Dakota.

📚 Lesson

Read the Story

Read or have a student read the Lakota story of the end of the world . The English translation can be found on the Akta Lakota Museum site here or you can copy it as a Google doc into your own classroom.


This short (5 minute) Google slide presentation explains what oral history is and how it was used by the Lakota/Dakota.

Play a Game

Have students play either Making Camp Lakota or Making Camp Dakota. From the earn page, select the LIFE tab. Select any 3 activities on the page to watch and answer the questions. If students have not played the game before, this should take 10-15 minutes from logging in, introduction, and the three choices.

LIFE pages from Making Camp Dakota.

The lessons featured in the Life tab are perfect examples of traditional oral history passed down by both Lakota/Dakota tribes. 

Share Oral Histories

Once students have played the game, ask students to think of and share orally a story told to them or if they are not comfortable with public speaking, have them write down in a notebook entry to be turned in for grading. 


The assessment value is based on what is written down in the notebook or what is shared orally with the rest of the class. Some students will not share or write anything down due to lack of knowledge, so those will be case by case and one on one with the student in question. Based on stories shared and notebook entries, adjustments to class series can be made to target how much time we can spend on a second lesson and third lesson with oral histories. 

Students completion of Life activities and their correct/ incorrect answers are recorded and data on student task completion and performance are available from the teacher reports.

RELATED Lessons You May Wish to Use

A Dakota boyhood is a lesson that also includes a story of Dakota life and teaches ELA at the fifth-grade level. This lesson also uses the Life section from the game Making Camp Lakota.

Breaking Down Division with Remainders – is a great addition for a cross-curricular unit. Making Camp Dakota follows a family at a pow-wow as the children learn about Dakota culture through stories from their elders and apply their long division skills along the way. This division lesson includes Making Camp Dakota game play, a video and Google slides presentation on division with remainders.

This lesson plan was originally developed as part of a series on returning culture and knowledge back to our youth as a part of the youth social skills night activities for the Native American Development Center in Bismarck, ND. It is part of a lesson plan series created by Jen Mellette, Youth and Community Coordinator. 

Reflections on Ojibwe Migration

by Janna Jensen and AnnMaria De Mars

📖 Standard

5.NF.B.4   Apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication to multiply a fraction or whole number by a fraction.

D2.His.13.3-5  Use information about a historical source, including the maker, date, place of origin, intended audience, and purpose to judge the extent to which the source is useful for studying a particular topic.

⏰ Time

60 minutes

📲 Technology Required

Students need access to a computer with web browser.

📃 Summary

This lesson begins with a storyboard on the route and major events of the Ojibwe migration. Students then play the Forgotten Trail game, followed by watching a video on map reading. As a group, students reflect on the challenges of the Ojibwe migration, compute the distance for just one segment and convert the distance from miles to kilometers.


Storyboard on the Ojibwe Migration

Begin with this story board on the route and major events of the Ojibwe migration. We recommend having students read each section of the story as it advances. Alternatively, the teacher may read it to the class or students can read it to themselves either on devices in the classroom or at home.

Watch a video on how to find the mean

Warning: bad singing ahead. This short video tells how to find the mean – in song.

Play the Forgotten Trail Game

Map from Forgotten Trail

Students should play the game at least through the first level. The game begins with a middle school class learning about the Ojibwe migration. Students will solve math problems related to the average number of miles walked per day and fraction of distance covered.

Watch a video on using scales in maps

This video is 7 minutes and covers what is a scale, how to use one and that different maps have different scales. If you feel your students are already familiar with this information, you may skip this video. In the days of Google maps and GPS we have found students often are not as familiar with this information as you might assume.

Presentation on Reflections on the Ojibwe Migration

In this Google slides presentation, students are asked to reflect on the Ojibwe migration. What would it have taken to survive such a journey? They use their map skills to estimate the distance of one leg of the journey, in both kilometers and miles.

Presentation is also available as a PowerPoint.

Synonyms Video

Now that students have seen synonyms as words for the same thing and miles and kilometers as measures for the same distance, finish up with this short (less than 2 minutes) video on synonyms.


Slides 14, 18 and 21 can be printed out for students to answer individually, or can be answered as a group in class. Data are available on activities completed and math problems answered in the Forgotten Trail reports. For more information, check out our reports page.

Buffalo Hunts and Division

📖 Standard

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NBT.B.5 Fluently multiply multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NBT.A.3.A Read and write decimals to thousandths

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NBT.A.4 Use place value understanding to round decimals to any place.

NOTE: Teachers who have not yet covered decimals in their class have an option within the lesson to only teach the first standard.

⏰ Time

25- 30 minutes

📲 Technology Required

Computer or mobile device

📃 Summary

Begin with a video on long division (optional) or a presentation on uses of division from the playground to the buffalo hunt. Watch a short video working long division problems. Finish with practicing long division in Making Camp Dakota. Short videos on Dakota buffalo hunt traditions and related math lessons are also linked.


Video: Optional for Review

If your students need a review of the steps in long division, we recommend this six-minute video that uses the acronym HMS ↓ to teach students to :

  • Ask How Many
  • Multiply
  • Subtract
  • Bring down

Presentation on Division and Buffalo Hunts

This Google slides presentation gives common factors in buffalo hunts across different tribes and explains how whether it is computing the number of hides a horse can carry or how long each group gets to play at recess, division is always useful.

NOTE: This presentation includes two slides that reference converting a fraction to a decimal. If you have not yet introduced this concept, those slides can be deleted.

Video: Long Division by Guessing

For those students who don’t know where to start with long division – guess!

Play a Game – Making Camp Dakota

Select the Buffalo Icon (top left corner) in the first MATH screen to practice long division.

Math Screen #1 from Making Camp Dakota

Related Lessons

For more instruction on division check out these two lessons:

Related videos

These two videos, each about 1 minute in length, give more information on traditional Dakota buffalo hunts.

Becoming a buffalo hunter

Dakota deer and buffalo hunting

Google Apps Basics for Hamsters

While I have heard many teachers say,

“My students know technology better than I do.”

– Teacher who is often incorrect.

I have often found this not to be the case when it comes to Google apps. I’ve often found that students sometimes don’t want to admit that they don’t know Google apps, assuming that everyone else does.

No hamsters were available so I used my guinea pig

This is the first in a series of lessons for either teachers or students who may not be extremely familiar with Google apps.

For many years, I taught statistics in graduate programs in education, psychology, business and engineering. On a conference planning committee, we had a request that read,

“I would like a session on statistics, but not statistics for dummies. I want a session so easy that a hamster could understand it.”

So, that was the origin of my session, “Statistics for Hamsters.”

Now, maybe you are a Google apps guru and you don’t need any of this. Yay for you. Seriously, yay! Let’s hang out. Still, you may find these resources helpful to share with your students. Just copy the link into your Google classroom, which, of course, you know how to do.

If that is not you, keep reading, and we can still hang out. Especially if you bring coffee.

⏰ Lesson Time

25 minutes

📲 Technology Required

Device with web-browser – Chromebook, laptop or desktop computer, iPhone or iPad

📚 Lessons

Google Drive and Google Doc: Super-Basics

All the Google apps lessons follow a similar format of a series of 15-30 second videos on simple tasks like opening the app, creating a new file and sharing. The lessons are 6-7 minutes but by the time your students get their computers open, log on and start the lesson we estimate around ten minutes of class time.

We have had more success with having students do these activities in class prior to an assignment that will use the app.

This is our favorite basic–basic lesson on Google Drive. From Google for Education, takes six minutes and ends with a quiz where you can test your knowledge.

Introduction to Google docs – The total lesson should take about 7 minutes.

Use what you learned

Follow up this lesson with a simple assignment in Google docs. This provides three prompts students can choose from to answer a question. They will practice creating a doc, copying and pasting from a doc (or, alternatively, saving to their drive), editing a doc and sharing it.

Note to the teacher: You should save the assignment in your Google classroom or other system and be sure to edit it to include your email before assigning to students.

Ojibwe Clans and Migration


NCSS theme – The study of people, places, and environments enables us to understand the relationship between human populations and the physical world. 

Minnesota State Standard – History Sub-strand 4, Standard 15 “North America was populated by indigenous nations that had developed a wide range of social structures, political systems, and economic activities, and whose expansive trade networks extended across the continent.”

⏰ Time

40 minutes

📲 Technology needed

Internet connection on a PC or Chromebook laptop, tablet, or phone.

📃 Summary

This Ojibwe clan lesson for Grade 3 is focused on Ojibwe culture. Students learn where people and places are located and why they are there. They will become familiar with the causes, patterns and effects of Ojibwe settlement and migration. They will learn of the different population centers in Ojibwe society and investigate the impact of human activities on the environment. 

📚 Lesson

The downloadable Google Slides presentation is available here. This has a digestible summary of the Ojibwe migration, and why and how it happened. The Ojibwe clans are introduced as well as the new lifestyles that the Ojibwe adopted after they migrated to the Great Lakes area and Ontario, Canada.


Making Camp Premium can reinforce clans and culture studies using the Life section.

  1. Select the LIFE button from the main choice screen.
  2. From the LIFE choices, click on the box in the middle of the bottom row, the one with the four people, and watch the video about Ojibwe social structure. Answer the questions that follow the video. 
  3. Next, select the box on the bottom right. Watch the overview video on clans and totems. Answer the questions.
  4. Students can also click on each individual clan totem icon to learn more about each Ojibwe clan and answer a question about each of them to earn points.
  5. Return to the wigwam and trade with the points earned in this lesson.
Choices page for Ojibwe history in Making Camp

Alternatively, students may also play Forgotten Trail, which is an adventure game that homes in on the Ojibwe migration. Two kids in the game retrace the Ojibwe migration on their own and learn more about Ojibwe history along the way.


Teachers will be able to view student reports for Making Camp Premium to view how many modules students completed in the LIFE section and their scores for each one.

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.

Watch out for blood-sucking fishes!


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.4 Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NBT.A.1 Recognize that in a multi-digit number, a digit in one place represents 10 times as much as it represents in the place to its right and 1/10 of what it represents in the place to its left.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NBT.B.5 Fluently multiply multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.


40 minutes


Either a project or smart board connected to the computer will be required to view presentation and videos in class or students will need a computer to watch during a web meeting. The game can be played on any computer or tablet.


This lesson introduces new science vocabulary words, teaches about indigenous and invasive species and includes a couple of math problems showing how quickly invasive species multiply. It concludes with students playing the Making Camp Dakota: Past and Present game. This is the ninth in a 10-unit English/ Language Arts unit centered around a visit to their grandmother that integrates English/ Language Arts and indigenous history.


Watch the Mouths to Feed Video

Invasive Species Giant Insect!

This one-minute video is a little silly with a giant insect but it is a good starter for the lesson to spark student interest.

Give a presentation on indigenous and invasive species

This Google slides presentation introduces the concepts of indigenous and invasive species. It also provides geography information on the Great Plains and Great Lakes as well as a couple of math problems computing how quickly one fly can turn into 5,000.

This content can be assigned to students as reading, but we recommend the teacher present as a mini-lecture first, if possible, and include the reading for students to review.

Watch video Seven Ways to Leave Hungry Pests Behind

We recommend assigning students to write down any words in the video that they don’t recognize.

Play Making Camp Dakota

NOTE: Making Camp Dakota will be available by the end of March, 2021.

You may allow your students to just play the game, or, if you want sections specific to this lesson in indigenous plants and animals, have them select the two icons below.

In the LIFE section of Making Camp Dakota: Past and Present select this icon to learn about how indigenous people used herbs.

Herb Matching Game

In the NUMBERS section, select this icon to learn about buffalo hunting.

As an added bonus, the buffalo section ends with a question on division of three digit numbers.

Buffalo hunt long division problem from Making Camp Dakota
Buffalo Hunt Division – from Making Camp Dakota

Optional: Lesson challenges and extension

National Ag in the Classroom has four, related lessons at the sixth to eighth-grade level on invasive species. Some of the readings may be above the grade level, but they recommend “jigsaw reading” where each student in a group takes a piece of a reading, then explains that paragraph or two to the rest of the class.

If your students are interested in invasive species, or you want some students to have more of a challenge, we recommend checking out this resource.


In class formative assessment occurs when asking students to answer math problems during the lesson. Students learning remotely can post answers in chat. Students in a classroom can hold up a piece of paper with their answer, allowing the teacher to check understanding at a glance.

Completion and accuracy of the responses in Making Camp Dakota can be checked in the data reports.

Two-Digit Multiplication and Estimation


CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.4.NBT.B.5 – Multiply a whole number of up to four digits by a one-digit whole number, and multiply two two-digit numbers, using strategies based on place value and the properties of operations.


35- 45 minutes

📲Technology Required

Computer with a projector, Smartboard or other device for your class to watch videos

NOTE: You’ll also need 20 math problems: 3-digit numbers multiplied by a 2-digit number. You can use what you already have, use the worksheet provided or use the Multiplication Worksheet Generator to make your own worksheet.

📃Lesson Summary

Students practice multiplication for a few problems, watch a video on using estimation to solve problems, hear a brief presentation from their teacher, solve more practice problems, watch a second video and practice more problems. They end the lesson with a game and a discussion of which strategies proved most useful.

📚Lesson Plan

Start with multiplication problems

Have the students solve 3 to 5 problems.

NOTE: This lesson requires a total of 9 to 15 multiplication problems. This worksheet has 24 problems multiplying a three-digit numbers by a two-digit number. Teachers can assign any selection of these problems or use their own. We give the students a worksheet of 24 problems and tell them to pick any ones they want to solve. Of course, teachers should do whatever works for them.

A PDF of the answers to the multiplication problems can be found here.

Watch a video

This 3-minute video explains multiplication of 2-digit and 3-digit numbers

This video explains steps in long multiplication, with examples and a reality check.

Discuss the video

Use this Google slides presentation for a short discussion of the video and how to apply the information learned about estimation and long multiplication.

Practice multiplying 2-digit and 3-digit numbers again

Now that students have had a chance to watch and discuss the video showing long multiplication, step by step, it’s time for them to practice again. They have 10 minutes to complete another 3 to 5 math problems.

Watch another video to review the steps

Now that students have watched one video and practiced their skills with a few problems they watch a second video to reinforce those steps.

Practice multiplying 2-digit and 3-digit numbers again

Now that students have had a chance to watch and discuss the video showing long multiplication, step by step, it’s time for them to practice again. They have 10 minutes to complete another 3 to 5 math problems.

Peer-grading (optional)

You may wish to share the answer key with students and have them grade their own or their peer’s problems.


As a class, discuss strategies for solving problems, including doing a reality check, estimation and breaking problems into smaller problems. Ask students which strategies worked best for them.

Play a Game

Both Spirit Lake: The Game and Making Camp Dakota (released in February, 2021) teach multiplication of two- and three-digit numbers.


In addition to grading all of the multiplication problems, remember that you can always see your students’ performance on the problems in Making Camp and Spirit Lake by accessing the reports page. You will need to enter the password you received during training.

Figurative language & poetry


Determine a theme of a poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.

Interpret figurative language, including similes and metaphors, in context.


Estimated time: 30- 45 minutes

📲Technology Required

A device with a web-browser – PC, Mac or Chromebook – or phone or tablet. Google classroom or similar app will be needed if the teacher wishes to share slides and assignment online.


This is the eighth in a 10-unit English/ Language Arts unit centered around a visit to their grandmother that integrates English/ Language Arts and indigenous history. Teacher gives a brief presentation on rhyme schemes and figurative language. Students read a poem and complete a short quiz. Students then play Making Camp Premium to learn more about idioms.

📚Lesson Plan

Introduce the lesson

Using this Google slides presentation, the teacher discusses figurative language, figures of speech, metaphors, similes and idioms.

Read about rhyming schemes

Students can follow this link to the poetry4kids page on rhyming schemes.

or you can download the page here to print out in class or attach to an assignment in Google classroom.

We recommend reading at least the first part aloud to students to help them understand the sound of different rhyming schemes. Students can then complete the second part of this assignment individually or as a class, with students voting by raising their hands or posting in the chat their answer for the rhyming scheme of each poem.

Complete assignment analyzing a poem

Students will read the poem, Friends, and complete a short quiz. The poem and quiz can be found here.

The answer key for the quiz, along with the poem, can be found here.

Review Idioms in Making Camp Premium

Price tag: An arm and a leg
A watched pot that never boils

Students should go to the Making Camp Premium game, playable online, or offline on a phone or tablet. They should select WORDS from the choice screen and the the two icons that show a watched pot that is not boiling and the price tag of an arm and a leg.

Related Lesson

This lesson is part of a unit centered around a visit to Grandma’s house. The previous lesson in this unit is Author’s Purpose.

Introducing Idioms – This lesson plan is not part of the unit, but related to the content taught above. It helps students recognize and understand idioms and what they are through different examples. 


This lesson plan includes three formative assessments. First, the students answer questions on rhyming scheme, either individually or as a group. Second, students answer the quiz on the poem, Friends. Third, students complete activities in Making Camp Premium 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. 

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.