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Native American Glossary



  • Language Arts


  • 3-5
  • 6-8

Brief Description

Students create a glossary of words used in the English language that have Native American origins.


Students learn about the influence of Native American words on the English language.


Native American, English, glossary, language

Materials Needed

  • printouts from sites listed in the lesson plan
  • tagboard or lined chart paper
  • dictionaries
  • writing paper
  • paper or pens
  • construction paper
  • markers or crayons

Lesson Plan

  • Prior to the lesson, print pages from Take Our Word for It (click the Spotlight link), Take Our Word for It Archives (N-P) (click Native American words in English). (Another resource for teachers is the book O Brave New Words: Native American Loanwords in Current English, by Charles L. Cutler.)
  • Write one or more of the words from the sources on tagboard or chart paper. Call on students to read the words. Explain that the words are common English words that have Native American origins. Tell students they are going to create a glossary using the words on the board and other words.
  • Assign each student a word. Tell each student to write the definition of his or her word from a dictionary.
  • When everyone has finished, ask students to compile the completed definitions in ABC order. Ask students to brainstorm a design for the cover of the glossary. Have one or more students use construction paper and markers or crayons to create the cover illustration.

Extension: Have students use library sources or the Internet to locate and print out pictures of as many of the words in the glossary as possible. Have students illustrate the words they cannot find.


Evaluate students' definitions and words.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Lois Lewis

National Standards

Language Arts: