Classroom Strategies

Activities below require students to conduct research using one or more of the resources listed in the Resources section of this Learning Center (next page).


  •  The teacher will introduce the diversity of indigenous Native American cultures and relate this diversity of geographical locations, ecosystems, and natural resources using maps, recalling  students' background knowledge, brainstorming, a K-W-L chart, etc.


  • Students will research canebrakes (river cane) to discover:

           -growing habitats/locations (particularly Choctaw tribal lands in Mississippi)

           -uses by Native Americans

           -effects of overpopulation, farming, and lumbering on ecology

  • Students will use research on river cane to create:

           -report or Power Point

          -ecology poster

          -infomational brochure

         -map of tribal lands and canebrake locations in Mississippi


  • Students will research basket-making styles of the Choctaw and Cherokee tribes. They will compare and contrast different styles using a Venn diagram. This can be used as a prewriting activity.
  • Students will sequence the basket-making steps by drawing a picture and writing a sentence for each picture using a "comic strip" pattern or booklet, sequencing the steps from harvesting the cane to the finished product. This can be used as a prewriting activity.
  • The class will read and discuss the story "The Indian Basket" by Mickey Roberts (see the Talking Leaves book in the Resources page, following).  Students will compare the uses of baskets by Native Americans in the past and in modern times.
  • Students will create a basket design by folding a large piece of manila or construction paper in half.  Cut the shape of a basket (as in cutting a Valentine heart). Cut a piece of graph paper (preferably with large squares) the same size and shape.  Discuss patterns and symmetry. Students will use the graph paper to create a basket design which is then transferred to the manila paper and colored to represent a basket. The finished product can be mounted on black construction paper to create a constrast for display.
  • Use a paper pattern (easily found on the Internet) and colored paper, colored pipe cleaners, or a basket-making kit (can be purchased on the Internet in classroom sets, very reasonably priced) to allow students to have a hands-on experience weaving baskets in order to develop respect for the craft and the artisans.
  • Extension activity: Students research the baskets of other indigenous Americans. Resources are available on the Internet or in the collections of ECHO partner museums (e.g., the Peabody Essex Museum).