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Describing how American Indians related to the climate and their environment to secure food, clothing, and shelter.



  • Create a storyboard of the three American Indian (First American) language groups showing the geography of where they lived and how they adapted to the environment.

  • Compare European and American Indian (First American) views of nature and explain how these ideas caused conflict between the two groups. Have students write a song, poem, or paragraph expressing their feelings about nature. Students can write their compositions on brown grocery bags in marker.

  • Show pictures of a Virginia American Indian (First American) village, and discuss what the students observe and what these pictures show about the Eastern Woodland Indians. Lead the students to understand that climate and environment played an important role in the way of life of the Virginia Indians in acquiring food, clothing, and shelter for their survival. Explain that Virginia had a relatively mild climate with four distinct seasons, resulting in a variety of vegetation.

  • Have students complete a “Jigsaw Activity” about food, shelter, and clothing of Indians. Visit http://chumby.dlib.vt.edu/melissa/posters/vastudiesposter.html for additional posters about Eastern Woodland Indians.

  • Divide the class into three groups by passing out number or color cards.

  • Have the groups meet in a designated area of the classroom, where each member of the team chooses one of the three topics—Food, Clothing, or Shelter—and becomes an expert on his/her chosen topic.

  • Set up stations labeled with the topics to be read and discussed. Students form new groups to meet other students who are responsible for the same information.

  • While in these groups, students should read, discuss, and question each other about the information and prepare to return to their original groups to teach the information. They are responsible for the information and must become their group’s expert on the topic.

  • Students return to their original groups and teach other members of their teams. Each expert member reviews and teaches his topic to other members of his team until all of the information is mastered.

  • Have the students take a quiz or do an assignment to demonstrate mastery of all topics.

  • Introduce the term artifact. Display any sample artifacts. Ask students, “How do we know Indians lived in Virginia?” and record the responses on a chart. Define artifact with the students and make a list of possible artifacts. Discuss what the artifact tells us about the Virginia American Indian (First American). Show the picture at EasternWoodlandsIndians2.pdf entitled Virginia Indians’ Artifacts.

  • Explain there were three major language groups in early Virginia. Display a Virginia map that demonstrates the location of each language group. Use the available map in the Virginia Atlas.

  • On a Virginia wall map, label the location of each language group in one color and use another color label to identify a tribe of each language group. Have the students label their own Virginia maps as well.

  • Have the students draw pictures to show how Virginia American Indians (First Americans) acquired food during each season.

  • Make a time line of Virginia history to be displayed in the classroom or hall. Each class will add to the time line as events are studied. Each class could use a different color to indicate a specific time period.

  • Draw and illustrate on a map the three main American Indian (First American) language groups in Virginia in the early 1600s.


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Updated on August 11, 2008.