3rd Annual Native American Museum Post

A social studies research report that really helps the students to learn about Pre-Columbian Native Americans.
It is that time of year again, when the students present their culminating project for the Native American unit that we have been entrenched in for the past few weeks.  I love when these projects come through my doors each year.  The learning they did becomes immediately obvious and it is just such a joy looking them over and learning about the tribes from the students!  I wanted to take some time to tell you about them AND show them off to you :)

This no prep Native American Research project can be assigned to students grades 3-6.

This project was put together by a 5th grade student during the Native American social studies unit.At the beginning of this unit, I pass out the entire report and presentation packet to my students.  They choose a tribe they would like to research (I make sure there are no overlaps, as they turn in a "decision form" to me early on) and I send them on their merry way.   During class, we are learning about the general culture groups.  At home, the kids get to be more specific.   They learn about the basic Pre-Columbian housing, crafts, clothing, geographical area, and customs of the tribe they are researching.  The kids get to actually build the house, make dolls wearing the clothing, write expository paragraphs, create maps, and construct the crafts typical of the tribe during the time before the Europeans arrived in the Americas.  The best part is, though, that the pages they are given tells them exactly how to do the project.  They can literally do it independently at home with very little help from an adult (although, admittedly when I did this in 3rd grade I did have to guide them along a bit more than I do with 5th graders).

Great research done by 5th graders for a Native American reserach report (that was a NO PREP, at home project for them!)
This Pre-Columbian Plank House was created by a 5th grade student.  It has a cut away on the roof to allow people to see the crafts of the tribe inside.
In 6 weeks, the students come to school with a completed trifold with all of their research.  The day the projects are due, it is so neat to hear the oooohhhhs and aaaaahhhs of the kids admiring the hard work of their classmates. This year, I was blown away by every single one of them.  These kids did an AMAZING job!

This is just a small little sample of what the students turned in with the NO PREP Native American research report from Teaching in Room 6
Doing a Native American museum requires the students to do research, make crafts, create clothing, build a home, and generally learn a LOT about the Pre-Columbian Native Americans living in the area.And right about now you are probably thinking of all of the ways that this just won't work.  I am here to tell you that it will.  I have taught in a Title 1, 100% Free and Reduced lunch school for most of the years that I have taught.  I have worked with students who have little to no support at home.  Students who had not a dime to spare on anything extra.  I have done this same project (with various levels of scaffolding) in grades 3, 4, and 5.  And every year, I get nearly 100% of the projects back.

Using a progress form helps students who are working on at home projects stay on task and make sure their work gets done by the deadline.
How, might you ask?  I make sure to send home a progress form at least once a week.  This form is a sort of "check in" for the kids.  It made me aware of where they were on the project, gave them a chance to ask questions, as well as kept the project fresh on their minds.   When I have the students turn in these forms, the "realness" of the project is there and the kids are always thinking about it.  It keeps them on top of things and, because of that, I have a great success rate with this project.  They also have a chance to ask me for any materials they may need.  If I have it (ie: construction paper) I will gladly give it to them.  If I don't (ie: wood and nails or army men or whatever else they think they need to have...but probably don't ;) ) I just tell them I don't have it and offer up an alternative solution if I can.  This system seems to work for me.

What I really love about this project is that, for many of them, it really is the first time they do something so big at home.  The pride and joy they feel when they are sitting in the "Museum" telling others about their tribe is priceless.  They learn so very much and really do walk away with a better feeling of social studies.  It is fun and interesting, and JUST the thing needed to introduce the students into this fabulous world of social studies for the year!

This NO PREP ready-to-go research report will get your students learning about a pre-columbian Native American tribe.  Helps them to research, write, learn, build, and orally present about the tribes.
If you would like to pick up this NO PREP Project (meaning, you can literally copy it and hand it to the students without having to prepare anything else), you can do so here.  It has been recently updated (to fix a few minor typos....whoops!) so if you already own it, be sure to redownload it!

Have you done this Native American Museum?  How did it turn out for you?  Do you do any other big social studies projects throughout the year?

4 comments

  1. This year we made wetus out of pipe cleaners and construction paper mishoons. We made dioramas and they came out great. I LOVE what your students did - tremendously creative!

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  2. I really like the idea of a progress form. My kiddos are slightly older, but I can totally see how a progress form would be AMAZINGLY useful for any independent project! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. The progress form is the best thing...really. It just holds the kids accountable and helps them to be sure they don't forget about the project in general!

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  3. I just came across your blog and already my mind is racing with the possibilities of this year with my 5th graders. I'll be teaching this in class for my first time. I'm wondering, for this particular project, about how many hours do you think I should allow for this, not counting museum walk? Thank you!

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