Native American Homes

Lesson Plan By Deliah Eastman


Objective:  The objective of this lesson is to teach kids how early Native American tribes used the resources around them to create the types of homes they lived in. The students will be recreating a model home of a specific tribe using materials that early native Americans would have used or materials that closely resemble what would have been used.


Age group:  This lesson is appropriate for 4th or 5th grade.



Any books on early Native American housing found in your library, a list of resources is listed below


Cardboard box




Hot glue gun


Various materials that can be used to recreate the home.  Examples are:

            Clay, grass, sticks, terrycloth towel, mud, leaves, popsicle sticks, sand etc.



 1.  Students will be assigned one of the early native American tribes found in North America.  I usually have 2 students working together on one tribe.  Some examples are:


Indians of the Northwest Coast










This is just some of the more common ones, and usually information is easier to find on these tribes, however I have used other tribes as well depending on the number of students in class. 


2.  Once the student has a tribe they will then do some research on their tribe to find out something about the resources that were available and what their dwellings were made of.  A copy of a note sheet that I have the students fill out is in the resource section.


3.  When the students are finished with their research and have filled out the note sheet as best they can I then have them write a short essay and a sketch of the dwelling with the region and tribe that they are studying.  Their essay should be 2 to 3 paragraphs telling why this type of dwelling was used by the tribe ( easy to move, didn’t have wood available, etc), what resources were available, where their tribe lived and if the dwelling was mobile.  Their sketch should also show some background to help the viewer understand where the tribe lived.


4.  After the essay and sketch are completed they can begin on the model.  The model directions are as follows:

            Using a cardboard box with one side cut out and any other supplies you will need, construct a model of the dwelling that your tribe lived in. Each model should include:


            a.  Background – the model must show the physical characteristics of the region, which includes typical land forms and physical features—examples – mountains, plains, prairie, forests, rivers, lakes, etc. (15 pts)


            b.  Dwelling – Each model must include a replica of  a typical dwelling made of materials that resemble the original dwelling as much as possible.  Remember your goal is to make it look as real as possible.  Example include, pueblo from clay, tepee from leather or a towel, longhouse from wood or bark etc. (20 pts)


            c.  Other characteristics – The model must also include at least 2 unique characteristics of the tribe.  Example – totem pole, burial mound, weapons, buffalo, pottery, etc. (15 pts)




I usually use this rubric when scoring the model homes, essay and sketch:


Background – shows typical land forms and

Phyical features




Needs Improvement

House – model was made with materials that resemble actual dwelling





Other characteristics – shows at least 2 unique characteristics of the region





Essay – is 2 to 3 paragraphs explaining the resources that were available – with little or no grammatical errors





Sketch – shows a sketch of dwelling with background, region and name of tribe done in color and neat










“If You Lived With the Sioux Indians”  by Ann McGovern

“If You Lived With the Iroquois”  by Ann McGovern

“If You Lived With the Cherokee” by Peter and Connie Roop

National Geographic Theme Sets by Ruby Maile




Name ________________________________  Tribe____________________________


Complete the questions below by writing information that you have found out about your Native American tribe.  You will be using these notes to help you write your essay and complete your model.  You may or may not find the answers to all the items listed below.


1.  Where did my tribe live? (what states)


2.  What type of house (dwelling) did they live in?  What was it made of?


3.  What was the land like where they lived? (landforms)


4.  What resources did they have to build their houses with?


5.  Did the tribe stay in one spot or did they move around a lot?


6.  Did the tribe have more than one type of house and if they did why?






Questions? Contact Project Director Audrey Shafer-Erickson

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