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The Learning Circle (Ages 4 to 7)

Classroom Activities on First Nations in Canada

Elementary, Secondary

Description

This primary resource is the first in a series of four classroom guides about First Nations people in Canada. The resource is organized in thematic units, each with its own teaching activities. The themes include: Storytelling, The Seasons, Sharing, Colours, Games and National Aboriginal Day. Through the activities and projects students learn about and understand the importance of each theme for the First Nations people.

Students will:

  • take on the role of animals in a classroom skit
  • dramatize the feelings of a tree
  • draw themselves performing their favourite seasonal activity
  • design and create a piece of clothing using paper
  • preserve some autumn leaves
  • observe changes in nature by examining a section of their playground
  • collect data and draw in a weekly journal
  • create posters about protecting animals and their environment
  • learn and play a variety of First Nations games

The resource includes three short stories which are available in audio format online. Teachers can utilize some of the exercises as stand-alone units on First Nations topics or integrate them with existing curricula on Aboriginal peoples.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Communicating ideas
  • Make observations
  • Recording information

Strengths

  • The resource is easy to use, the activities are age appropriate.
  • The resource is easy to download and provides audio versions of the stories found in the resource.
  • The audio versions of the stories provide some authenticity to the legends by use of background music and drumming which makes the legends more appealing to the younger students.

Weaknesses

  • More attention needs to be paid to cooperative learning strategies.
  • Very few assessment options are suggested.
  • More of the activities should take place outdoors.
  • No opportunities to integrate technology are suggested

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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        • Investigating change and the diversity of Earth’s systems helps us to develop understandings of the conditions necessary to sustain life
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        • The child uses materials in the environment and community and becomes aware of how others use materials
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        • Active citizenship contributes to the vitality of communities that can promote pluralism among diverse people in a democratic society
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        • Analyzing diverse worldviews and experiences fosters our ability and willingness to live well together.
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        • Daily and Seasonal Changes
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      • Science
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        • Air & Water in the Environment
  • Quebec
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    • Grade 1
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      • Arts
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        • Arts: Drama: To interpret short scenes
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        • Arts: Visual Arts: To produce media works in the visual arts
      • Science & Technology
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        • Living things
        • The material world
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      • Arts
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        • Arts: Drama: To interpret short scenes
        • Arts: Drama: To invent short scenes
        • Arts: Visual Arts: To produce media works in the visual arts
        • Arts: Visual Arts:To appreciate works of art, media images, personal productions and those of classmates
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        • Living things
        • The material world
  • Saskatchewan
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    • Kindergarten
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        • Arts: Exploring Our World
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        • Units & Outcomes
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        • Units & Outcomes
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        • Air and Water in the Environment
      • Social Studies
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        • My Community: Dynamic Relationships
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Kindergarten
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Arts Education: Visual Arts
        • Arts Education:Drama
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science: Daily and seasonal changes affect all living things.
        • Science: Plants and animals have observable features
    • Grade 1
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Arts Education: Drama
        • Arts Education: Visual Arts
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 1: Living things have features and behaviours that help them survive in their environment
        • Science 1:Observable patterns and cycles occur in the local sky and landscape
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Local Communities: Healthy communities recognize and respect the diversity of individuals and care for the local environmen
    • Grade 2
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Arts Education : Drama
        • Arts Education: Visual Arts
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 2: Water is essential to all living things and it cycles through the environment
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Regional and Global Communities: Canada is made up of many diverse regions and communities

Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Community-Building and Participation
  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
  • Human Rights (2)

    • Cultural Diversity
    • Education
  • Indigenous Knowledge (2)

    • Rituals, Spirituality and Worldviews
    • TEK -- Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good
  • Through the activities and projects students learn about the importance of each theme for the First Nations people and how each part is connected to the other and to their own lives. The students are not influenced to any particular point of view.
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Satisfactory
  • The resource addresses different aspects of traditional ways. It educates students about First Nations' values and beliefs. The resource present an environmental dimension of First Nations Communities.
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good
  • The resource explores elements of traditional First Nations values and beliefs. The resource was produced to help meet Canadian educators’ growing need for elementary-level learning exercises on First Nations. The resource promotes dialogue and discussion opportunities for the students in an age appropriate manner.
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Good
  • The resource introduces National Aboriginal Day to children and encourages them to celebrate it every year. It presents a variety of different activities which can be part of a school or community event. The activities are age appropriate and can be used to promote National Aboriginal Day in the community.
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Satisfactory
  • The resource presents First Nations stories which are an effective strategy to educate young people about the values and beliefs of First Nations but students are not explicitly given an opportunity to clarify their own values.
Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good
  • The activities promote empathy and respect towards the First Nations people and their values and beliefs.
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good
  • Students will have an opportunity to observe changes in nature by examining a portion of their playground. It will allow students to draw conclusions about the seasonal changes in both plants and animals. over time.
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Very Good
  • Students learn and understand the importance of each theme for the First Nations people and how each part is connected to the other and to their own lives. The students make connections with the theme through the hands-on activities and class discussions.
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good
  • The themes of the resource present the past and present beliefs and values of the First Nations people.
Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Very Good

The activities and projects are based on a wide range of instructional methods including discussion, storytelling, experimentation and observation, field research, writing and reading, role playing and games. The resource provides exercises, projects and activities that encourage students to learn more about First Nations.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Very Good
  • Social Studies
  • Science
  • English Language Arts
  • Art
Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory
  • Some of the activities provide discovery learning experience.
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Good
  • The resource presents activities that address a range of learning styles.  These include storytelling, open ended questions and discussions, writing, role-playing, experimentation and observation.
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
  • One of the resource units focuses on the value of sharing. The activities emphasize sharing with others and with nature in an age appropriate manner.
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory
  • Reflection questions and open questions are provided.
Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
  • The resource presents an opportunity to organize a First Nations Celebration the opportunity to read stories, invite guest speakers, music, dance etc...
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Satisfactory
  • While there are no case studies per se, the telling of traditional stories is used effectively.
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Poor/Not considered
  • The resource has many teacher-directed activities and a few suggestions to further the learning.
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.