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Here’s a lesson on the Navajo Indian Culture
Art, Language Arts, Social Studies
3, 4, 5
Title – Navajo Indians
By – Jennifer Dalke
Subject – Social Studies, Language Arts
Grade Level – 3-5
* Students will be exposed to the Navajo Indian culture through the story, “The Goat in the Rug”
* Students will build upon their background knowledge of the Navajo Indians
* Students will develop an interest in learning about the Navajo Indians
* Each student will complete a double-entry journal (see attached rubric).
* Students will contribute one thing that they each learned in order to help complete a class list (teacher observation).
* Each student will write a question on a notecard that he/she has about the Navajo Indians (teacher will collect a question from each child).
* journals with attached teacher page
* “The Goat in the Rug,” by Charles L. Blood and Martin Link
* large piece of white butcher paper
* black marker
* small notecards
This lesson would begin a unit on American Indians. First, I will come into class wearing Navajo clothes and carrying a woven Navajo rug. I will ask the students what kind of clothes they think that I am wearing. After students guess that they are Indian clothes, I will ask them if they know what kind, in particular. After a few students volunteer their ideas, I will explain that they are from the Navajo tribe. I will tell the children that there are many different kinds of American Indians, and that we will have the chance to learn about many of them. For the next couple of days we will be learning about the Navajo tribe.
1. I will ask the students how they were able to guess what kind of clothes I was wearing. What information did they use? What did they look at in considering their guesses? I will explain that this is what we call ‘background knowledge,’ and we will talk about why this is important for learning.
2. I will tell students that I have stapled a teacher page (see attached) into their journals, and they should each take his or her journal out.
3. I will show the students the cover of the story, “The Goat in the Rug.” I will explain that this story is about a Navajo Indian and her goat. I will tell the children that they will be completing a double-entry journal about the Navajo Indians and this story.
4. Since students will already be familiar with the concept of double-entry journals, we will go over the concept quickly only to refresh their memories.
5. We will read over the directions and the questions together as a class to be sure that the students understand. I will give students about ten minutes to complete the left side of their journals. When they are finished, they may quietly share their predictions with a neighbor.
6. After the students have completed this assignment, I will read this story aloud to the class, making sure that all the students can see the pictures. Although this story may be a bit easy for 4th graders, I think it is a fun story that students will enjoy and that will spark their interest in the Navajo’s . . . and everyone loves to be read to!!!
7. After the story, I will instruct the students to fill out the right side of their journals. While they are doing this, I will hang up a large piece of butcher paper entitled, “Things that We Learned from ‘A Goat in the Rug’ (Navajo Indians)”.
8. When students have completed their journals, I will have each children volunteer one of the things they learned and I will write each one on the list. This list will be hung on a wall in the room. I will explain to the children that, at the end of our unit, we will have lists about each tribe that we studied.
9. Finally, I will pass out a small notecard to each student. I will tell them to think about everything they learned today, and then to think about what else they would like to learn. They should each write one question on his/her notecard. I will be sure to tell them not to write their names on the cards. Instead, when they are finished, they should bring their cards to me so I can read the question and check off their names to show that they turned the assignment in to me.
When all of the cards are finished, I will tell the children that we will be using their questions to decide what we will learn about the Navajo Indians as well as the other tribes we will be studying. I will explain that I will be asking the students to write down questions after the introductions of each of the tribes we will be studying. After each of the tribes has been introduced, the students will be broken up into groups and each group will be assigned a different tribe. I will hand out the appropriate question cards to the groups (eliminating any doubles), and it will be up to each group to pick the 5 most important questions. With these, the groups will need to research, answer, and illustrate each of the questions. The class will put all of its work together to produce a ‘quick and quiet book’.
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