Third Grade Studying Native Americans: Strengthening Content Area Learning and Project Management Skills

Third graders recently concluded their Social Studies unit learning about Native American history, culture, and customs. With this unit, the students not only strengthened their content area learning, but also developed skills in project management, teamwork, public speaking, and research.

To study the many Native American tribes in North America, the third graders were organized into several groups, and each group focused on studying one region. Then, at the end of the unit, each group presented a model home, craft, and Powerpoint presentation explaining how the Native American people in their region lived in accordance to a Quaker testimony (simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, or stewardship).

“This project is like a jigsaw puzzle, where everyone does one part, but then it comes together when the students teach the rest of the class and share their learning,” said Third Grade Teacher Ted Quinn. “Through this activity, I hope the students learn knowledge about the topic, but also learn how to use resources to conduct research, what content is important to include in a presentation, and what is not as relevant, and how to anticipate questions from an audience. The process incorporates real-life useful skills that expand beyond Native Americans and Social Studies.”

The third graders presented their final work on November 23 at an afterschool celebration, at which family members were invited to attend. For their special guests and as a culminating activity, Mr. Quinn and his students prepared a sampling of Native American dishes for the celebration. Each third grader provided a brief history of each dish and explained the importance of the food to Native American tribes.   

To supplement their classroom activities, the third grade also visited the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton and enjoyed a special presentation from a Native American expert, Rob Aptaker.The guest speaker shared engaging stories of different North American tribes and numerous artifacts with the students.

“Students learn in different ways,” said Mr. Quinn. “With their classroom projects, visiting the museum, and hearing a guest speaker bring Native American artifacts to life, we are hitting different angles in how we teach and study.”