You are on page 1of 8

Lesson Title: Navajo Indians

Day Number: 1
Author: Autumn Jermacans
Unit: Houghton Mifflin
Grade Level: 3rd

Background Information
Expected Duration - 60 minutes
-Navajo Indians
-Active Listening
-Making Connections

Integration of Learning Outcomes

Students will listen and watch a video on Navajo traditions and explain their own family
Students will be able to explain how Navajo Indians adapted to their new environment.
Students will be be able to explain the meaning of new vocabulary words they come across in
this lesson.



8.4.3.A:Identify the elements of culture and ethnicity.
7.2.3.A:Identify the physical characteristics of places and regions.
Language Arts:
1.5.3.A:Write with a focus, with an understanding of topic, task, and audience.

1.5.3.B:Develop content appropriate for the topic.

1.5.3.F:Use grade appropriate conventions of language when writing and editing.
NCSS Standards
Culture and Cultural Diversity
Assist learners to understand and apply the concept of culture as an intergrated whole
that governs the functions and interactions of language, literatura, arts, traditions, beliefs,
values, and behavior patterns

Anticipatory set
I will pre-assess what the students know on subjects of culture and adaptations. These are
subjects that will be later discussed in this lesson. I will begin by making several statements, and
asking students to take a stance on those statements. They will be asked to stand up if they
agree with the statement, and sit down if they do not agree.
*A ceremony is always a happy party
*Different groups of people around the world have food that is special to their culture.
*Everyone celebrates the same traditions
*Religion means to believe in God or gods
*Adapting means you stay the same and do not make any changes.
Wow! Very interesting. We had some people standing and some people sitting for a lot of these
questions. Now I wont tell you if you were correct just yet. But I have faith that after todays
lesson, you will feel more confident in your answers!


Inform the class that we will begin our lesson on Navajo Indians. I will use a large map of
America and ask who can come up to the class and point to where we live. I will put a marker
where we are located on the map. I will then show the students where the Navajo lands are
located on this very same map, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.
2. I would ask students to think about what they see when they look out the window at school,
what about when they look out the car window on drives? What about looking out the window at
home? Do you see lakes? Rivers? Trees? I will explain that at first, Navajo Indians lived in
forests. They had lots of trees, streams, grass, and rivers, like us! But then they moved towards
the desert.

3. I would ask if anyone could explain to the class what its like in the desert. I will then point
back to the Four Corners and explain that this area of the United States is VERY dry and hot.
The Navajo Indians were not used to living in these kinds of surroundings. They had to ADAPT
to the new desert surroundings. Adapting means to to change the way you live to fit a new place

4. I will ask the students to talk within their table clusters. I want them to predict what changes
the Navajo Indians experienced with living in a desert now instead of an environment with plenty
of water. Think about how the environment affect the way people live their lives?
5. I will explain that the Navajo Indians adapted to the desert in a few different ways. When they
lived in the forest, they used to hunt animals. Now, the Indians began to farm in the desert. They
grew food like corn, squash, and beans. They learned new techniques in farming. Because it
never rained, they had to figure out how they could still farm with very little rain. They learned
that they needed to plant seeds very deeply in the ground where there was underground water.
They learned skills on hunting in the desert rather than when they hunted in the forests.
6.Navajo Indians culture is both similar, but also different than our culture. Culture is everything
that makes up the way of life of people, including beliefs, stories, arts, food and religion. Religion
means to believe in one or more Gods. Think about our culture as Americans. Think Pair Share
with a partner- talk about one aspect of the American culture. Remember- culture consists of the
foods we eat, the arts or fun entertainment we participate in or go watch, sports we play, what
we do for fun, religion.
7. Navajo Indians culture also included many ceremonies. A ceremony is a formal act that marks
a special occasion. The Navajo Indians loved to use song, dance, and prayer during their
ceremonies to connect with their God and show him thanks. Many times, they held ceremonies
for those that were ill in their tribe. When a new house was built, or as the Navajo call them
hogans *show picture*, they hold ceremonies to bless the new home.

When the Navajo planted new crops, they held a ceremony full of prayers, songs, and dances
in hopes of blessing their food. *watch a video on a Navajo Indian Ceremony : Navajo Dancers
(89th Annual Inter-Tribal Ceremonial) - Sash Belt Rug dance.
8. The Navajo Indians culture shows appreciation for all living things. They are very
appreciative of everything around around them, including land, animals, insects, the waters.
They feel a special connection to these things that help them and their family live a happy life.

9. The Navajo Indians culture highly respected the outdoors. In fact, they faced their houses, or
hogans, towards the rising sun to show respect towards the sun. Do you notice anything
different about the way our desks are set up today? *They are all facing the windows*... Today
we are also showing respect for the rising sun since we are learning about a Navajo Indian
tradition. Who here has heard of the word tradition, please raise your hand. Can someone
help tell the class what a tradition is?
10. A tradition is. A special way of doing something. People share a tradition they care about.
American Indian nations today pass along beliefs and special celebrations which becomes
tradition. My family has a very special tradition of playing Secret Santa for Christmas. Growing
up, I was one of five kids in my family. Instead of buying four presents for all my brothers and
sisters, we would have to pick a name out of a hat the day after Thanksgiving. We would then
buy a special present for that sibling, and give it to them Christmas Eve night after a family
dinner together. We started that tradition when I was about 7. We still do that same tradition
today! What traditions does your family have for those holidays? Think about special holidays in
your house, birthdays, Valentines Day, Hannukah, St. Patricks Day. Does your family have any
special traditions on those holidays? I would like to hear all about it! You all may write your first
draft now. After conferencing with one other friend, then I will read your tradition. You will then
write a final draft of your favorite family tradition.



For the struggling students, I will have them write at least four sentences talking about their
favorite family tradition. I would conference with them before writing to see if they have any ideas
on their own. If not, I will help prompt them with different holidays and asking them questions to
lead to their own discovery of their familys traditions. On the vocab sheet I hand out for them, I
will include pictures for each vocabulary word.
For advanced readers, I will have them write at least 8 sentences about their family tradition. For
their vocabulary sheet, I will leave spaces in their definitions that they must fill in themselves by
listening in class.



I saw a lot of interesting traditions that you all participate in with your families. Many were new to
me! Does anyone want to read to the class what you wrote about?

I would listen to about three traditions.

Like the Navajo Indians, you also have special traditions too! The Navajo Indians have very
special traditions that are special to them, like song, dance and prayer for special ceremonies.
Your traditions may be different than the Navajo, but those traditions are special to you and your
family! Its what makes you special!


Formative/Summative Assessment of Students

I formally assess the children in the beginning by seeing what knowledge they have coming into
class. I am assessing children on what they know already on the new vocabulary words:
ceremony, tradition, culture, religion, adapting by asking them to stand if they agree with a
statement or sit if they do not agree.

I will also be formally assessing the students by observing who is participating in the think pair
share. Who also is participating with raising their hand?
Another assessment would consist of collecting the students final papers on their familys
traditions. I will look to see if the students are truly meeting the objective of listening and watch a
video on Navajo traditions and explain their own family traditions. I will look to see if they are
following directions on the writing assignment and relating traditions back to their life.

Map of United States
Markers for map
Pictures of hogans
Tradition final paper for the students to write on.
Photographs of their hogans




Reflection on Planning

For my lesson, I wanted the students to connect to this tribe of Native Americans. The main
factors that I read about the Navajo Indians in the chapter book were relatable to these third
graders. We all had to adapt at one point or another. I wanted the students to be able to take the
Navajo Indians lifestyles and connect it to their own life. This lesson was also heavily influenced
by culture. These students are all very familiar with our culture as Americans, whether they
realize it or not. They are at an age where they know what we do for fun in our spare times, what
our hobbies are, what foods we eat, what holidays we celebrate. I wanted to show them that
these Native Americans are also rich in culture. I also wanted to get the point across that their
culture is different than ours, but there are some similarities between us. For example, we both
have traditions that we follow. This is why I had the students write about their favorite family
traditions. I wanted to get them thinking about traditions that they enjoy in their household. Just
like the Navajo, they have traditions too. And instead of just talking about their traditions, I
wanted to incorporate writing into this activity. Writing would give them more time to think about
their traditions. They also had the opportunity to work with others on editing. This exposed
students to new traditions that their classmates follow. I would like to see how this lesson turns
out in a real classroom.
Content Analysis Information
adapt - to change the way you live to fit a new place...Synonym: adjust
ceremony- a formal act that marks a special occasion. This event may honor peoples beliefs.
culture- everything that makes up the way of life of people, including beliefs, religion, stories,
arts, and even food.
religion- the belief in God or gods
tradition- A special way of doing something. People share a tradition they care about. American
Indian nations today pass along beliefs and special celebrations.
Navajo Indians and how they adaptedThe Navajo are Native Americans. 300,000 Navajo live in the southwestern United States Arizona, New Mexico, Utah. People who study Indians believe they originated from forest up
north They hunted animals for food. They had to learn how to adapt to new desert
environments. This involved learning how to use the deserts natural resources. They learned
how to farm and hunt in the desert. They grew corn, squash, and beans. The small amount of
rain they received in the desert made farming more challenging. They learned to plant seeds
very deeply in the ground to reach underground water. They gathered plants and nuts to eat.
They hunted animals, like deer, for their meat and skin.

Culture includes a peoples religion, stories, arts, and their food. Religion is one part of a culture and
people in the same culture may or may not follow the same religion. A religious ceremony- examples :
funeral or wedding. Navajos feel very close to nature, both land and living things. They believe nature is
sacred. They provide thanks to the plants and animals that feed them. Some have hogans, their traditional
homes, face the east to show their appreciation for the sunrise. Navajos earn a living in many wayssheep ranchers, farmers, teachers, engineers, and miners.

Inside of hogan

Outside of hogan