The Lenape Native Americans lived on the East Coast of the United States in and around the New Jersey-Delaware area. The tribe built longhouses, more commonly referred to as wigwams. These wigwams were built from materials found in the deciduous forests and were often the center of social gatherings. Elementary students on the East Coast are often taught about the Lenape Native Americans and the role wigwams played in their social environment.
The Wigwam and the Lenape Village
This lesson can begin a unit on Lenape Native Americans. Students will be assigned to research the Lenape society, wigwam and village, with specific stress placed on reviewing how the wigwam was regarded within the village. Questions may be posed such as, "Was the wigwam only for shelter, or was it open to visitors? Was it used as a meeting place for public meetings?" Students will write out the research and present it in a written report. At the teacher's discretion, a PowerPoint presentation may accompany the reports, and students will share their findings with the class.
Model Wigwam Lesson Plan
Create a model wigwam with this lesson plan. The wigwam can be complicated or simple, depending on the abilities of the class. A simple wigwam involves Styrofoam, bendable wooden sticks or pipe cleaners and felt. Students will review pictures of wigwams, then attempt to duplicate the pictures with models. Using the sticks or pipe cleaners, students will poke the material into the Styrofoam, imitating the pictures. The fabric will be glued over the frame using fabric or wood glue. Students can then demonstrate the wigwams for the class or present them for a grade.
Students will review methods of the Lenape Native Americans to utilize natural materials for survival, including housing. After the review, students will be assigned to collect materials from their own environments to build model homes. The teacher will decide if the buildings need to look like wigwams or if the design will be decided by the student.
Time Travel Assignment
The students will be assigned to groups for this assignment. Each student in a group of four will be assigned to a part of research regarding the wigwam in Lenape society. The students will be instructed to become time travelers and travel to the time of the Lenape. After each student has completed individual research for the assigned time travel section, the group will meet to create a brochure advertising the wigwam in the time of the Lenape. A twist to this project is assigning the students to become Realtors and attempt to sell each other wigwams using Lenape strategies.
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