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Six Native American resources for teachers

During the month of November, teachers will be educating their students on the First Thanksgiving, and the relationship the pilgrims had with the Native American Wampanoag tribe. Many educators will also want to delve deeper into Native American history, culture and arts.

EducationWorld has curated a list of six resources for educators to use in November or anytime.

  1. Dream Catcher: With this lesson plan, students can understand the meaning behind an Native American dream catcher through an arts and crafts project. Teachers can begin the lesson by sharing the story of the Lakota spirit of wisdom named Iktomi, who disguised himself as a spider to visit Lakota's leader. Teachers can read the excerpt below or get more information here:

"Iktomi took the leader’s willow hoop and told him about the importance of the cycle of life. Iktomi spun a web in the leader’s hoop and told him that the “dream catcher” would catch the leader’s good dreams and let the bad ones fall through the web’s center. This would help the leader and his people realize their dreams and ideas."

Then, students can make their own dream catchers with paper plates and string with this separate lesson plan

What you need:

  • One paper plate
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Yarn (four 12" sections and one 48" section)
  • Clear tape
  • Pony beads
  • Feathers (3 1/2-4" long)
  • Markers

What to do:

  • Cut a 5" circle from the center of the paper plate, leaving the outer rim of the plate intact.
  • Use the hole punch to make a series of holes every inch or so around the inner edge of the ring.
  • Use markers to decorate the ring with patterns and images as desired.
  • Weave the 48" piece of yarn through the holes in the inner edge of the ring going across the ring to create a web for the bad dreams to get caught in. Secure the beginning and ends of our yarn to the back of the ring with clear tape.
  • Use the hole punch to create a single hole at the top of the ring to hang the dream catcher. Make a loop from one of the 12" long strands of yarn, run it through the hole and knot it to secure. If you like, you can string a couple of pony beads onto the hanging loop to add some color.
  • Use the hole punch to create three holes about an inch apart along the bottom edge of the dream catcher. Feed the remaining 12" strands of yarn through the holes and double knot to secure. Feed pony beads onto the yarn coming from each hole. Knot and then use clear tape to attach a feather to the bottom of each strand. Trim excess yarn with scissors. Repeat to make three strands of beads with feathers coming off the bottom of the dream catcher.


  1. The Very First Americans by Cara Ashrose: Read this book to the class at the beginning or end of the school day. In "The Very First Americans", Amazon says, " beautiful watercolor paintings accurately depict clothing, dwellings, art, tools, and other Native American artifacts.
  2. Rainstick Craft: Students can make their own ceremonial musical instruments that Native Americans used to provoke the rain spirits. 

What you need: 

  • A paper towel tube or other long cardboard tube
  • Aluminum foil
  • Small dried beans (like lentils), unpopped popcorn, dry rice, or tiny pasta.
  • Brown paper (from a grocery bag) or construction paper
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Crayons or markers

What to do:

  • Trace around the end of your tube onto a piece of brown paper (or construction paper).
  • Draw a bigger circle around that circle and then draw a lot of spokes between the two circles.
  • Cut along the spokes.
  • Put glue on the spokes and glue the cap onto one end of your tube. 
  • Cut a piece of aluminum foil that is about one and half times the length of your tube and about 6 inches wide.
  • Crunch the aluminum foil into two long, thin, snake-like shapes. Then twist each one into a spring shape.
  • Put the aluminum foil springs into your tube.
  • Pour some dry beans, dry rice, or unpopped popcorn into your tube. The tube should only be about 1/10 full.
  • Make another cap from brown paper (the same as the first three steps) and cap your tube.


  1. Grandmother's Dreamcatcher by Becky Ray McCain: In this book, Amazon says, "While Kimmy's parents look for a house close to Daddy's job, Kimmy stays with her Chippewa grandmother. The bad dreams she has had still bother her. But with her grandmother's help, she learns about dreamcatchers."
  2. Native American headdress: Students can make their own Native American headdress with this fun activity. 

What you need: 

  • 2" strip of heavy weight poster paper - measured and cut to fit the wearers head
  • Crayons, markers or colored pencils
  • Stapler
  • Construction paper in colors red, yellow and orange
  • Scissors

What to do: 

  • Measure and cut the length of white paper for the headband and decorate with the drawing utensils.
  • Fold strips of construction paper in half (you can vary the sizes) and draw a pointed semi-oval on the folded side.
  • Cut out the shape on the folded half of the paper. You should now have a full feather shape when opened up.
  • Fold the feather in half again and (with the scissors) make diagonal snips down the length of the side without the fold.
  • Open up your feather shapes and ruffle the fringed edges with your fingers to help them separate.
  • Fan & arrange the feathers and staple them together at the bottom. Staple the feathers to the back of the headband.
  1. If You Lived With The Indians of the Northwest Coast by Anne Kamma: In this book, Amazon says, "What was it like to be a child among Haida, Makah, Tlingit, or other coastal groups? What kind of house would you live in? What kind of clothes would you wear? What work would you do if you were a girl, or if you were a boy? Would you go on a Spirit Quest? These and dozens of other questions are answered in this informative and beautifully illustrated book."

Copyright © 2014, 2015 Education World

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

Updated 11/20/15