5th Grade History Projects on Native Americans

These simple projects will introduce 5th graders to the history and culture of Native American Indians.

Students in 5th grade can gain a better understanding of what life as a Native American Indian was like by participating in a variety of different projects. The Indians of North America were proud and fiercely protective of their rich culture and history, and these activities will help 5th graders learn more about aspects of these peoples' lives.

1 Map Tribes

Students in 5th grade can learn about the home and migratory patterns of the different Indian tribes of North America by marking where they were located on a map of the continent. Have students make maps showing the location and hunting grounds of major North American Indian tribes including the Seneca in New York, Cherokee in Tennessee, Comanches in Oklahoma and Umatilla tribe in Oregon. They can then take the maps home to study and prepare an oral report on how each tribe lived and how their location affected their diet, domestic life and overall comfort throughout the year.

2 Cardboard Tube Totem Pole

Have 5th graders make miniature totem poles out of cardboard tubes to follow up a lesson on how totem poles of the Pacific Northwest tell the history of Native American families and tribes. Totem poles have been made by the Tlingit Indians for centuries to honor their ancestors, native wildlife and the spirits that they believe protect them and their lands. EnchantedLearning.com offers free instructions for making totem poles out of cardboard tubes and construction paper, and the students can choose animals such as bears, otters, eagles, wolves, seals and salmon to include on their totem pole.

3 Make a Dreamcatcher

The students can make a dreamcatcher to hang over their beds. These devices were believed to capture evil spirits and bad dreams. Dream-Catchers.org offers free instructions to make a simple dreamcatcher that students can make for themselves, their friends and family. Let them decorate their dreamcatcher with feathers, colored beads and strips of leather and discuss why those and other items from nature were so important to Native American spirituality.

4 Native American Profile

Have the students make a poster board or profile of a famous Native American. Sacajawea was a Shoshone Indian princess who helped the explorers Lewis and Clark navigate their way to the Pacific coast. Osceola of the Seminole tribe maintained a reservation for his people in what is now Florida. By examining the life of a famous Indian, students will gain an in-depth look into the way their tribes lived and fought.

Melissa Sherrard acquired her Bachelor of Science in public relations from the University of Florida in 2007 and has been writing professionally ever since. She also has extensive hands-on experience planning weddings and other private functions. She has created original print materials including announcements, invitations and programs for weddings, corporate events and private functions.