Grade 5
My Class to Yours


American Indian Shelters
Use with Unit 1
Written by Sheila Loftus
Grade 4 teacher
Hesperia, California USA
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California history focuses so much on the Missions and fails to describe the negative impact bestowed upon American Indians. When we assign projects concerning missions, most students were buying store bought, immaculate missions. I completely changed the project and now the students research the various shelters once resided by Native Americans. They are to construct a shelter made only of nature products duplicating as close as possible (just in smaller version) to the real house. They research the region which allows them to describe their habitat and foods they ate and resources they used.

The projects are due the week before Thanksgiving break and on the last day before our break, we have a class luncheon of fry bread (Indian tacos). Get as many of your parents to volunteer that day and come to assist in the classroom as the students make their very own bread from scratch (fry bread). The students bring an item in to contribute and the parents fry. We brought in already cooked taco meat, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, some brought home-made salsa, and you put all those ingreients on top of the bread and eat!! It's delicious. The bilingual moms can participate in assisting with cooking and helping with measurements.

Recipe for Fry Bread:
Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water for 2 minutes
2 cups of warm water
3 tablespoons of yeast
2 tablespoons of sugar
3 tablespoons of shortening
2 tablespoons of salt
4 cups of flour
cooking oil

Let rise 1 hour in a warm place. Take mixture, flatten, and poke a hole in the middle, then fry in oil.

Archaeological Dig
Use with Unit 2
Written by Meghan Fischer
Grade 4 teacher
The Nativity School
San Diego, California USA

To learn more about the lives of archaeologists, students take part in their own miniature dig. First students collect empty milk cartons. The students are given a partner and fill their milk cartons with water and plaster of Paris. Each partnership is given 4 small "artifacts" to bury in their plaster. Michael's has great beads, wooden bowls, canoes, and arrowheads.

After the artifacts dry in the plaster, students peel away the paper carton. They then randomly select a carton to "excavate." The students use large nails and tooth brushes to sift and dig at the plaster. They record their findings using exact measurements and graph paper.

Lastly, they write a paragraph with their partner explaining how the artifact might have been used by an early tribe. This assignment allows for great discussion topics, such as what is the hardest part in archaeological work.

Coming to America
Use with Unit 2
Written by Mike Tietz
Grade 4 teacher
Pine Ridge Elementary School
Kentwood, Michigan USA

Each child pretends to be a person who is traveling from a country that is already established and moving to the United States. Each student has a specific job, a family, and a dollar amount. This limits them from bringing outrageuos things. They then write four legs of a journey. The first leg is why they are leaving thier home country and moving to America. The second leg is what they are going to pack and why they will need it either on the boat or when they get to America. The third leg is when they are actually on the boat and they have to tell all about their adventure on the boat coming to America. The final leg is actually arriving in America and then deciding what they are going to do for a living and where they are going to live.

Natural Resources of California
Use with Unit 1, Lesson 3
Written by Michael Hager
Grade 4 teacher
Grace Thille Elementary School
Santa Paula, California USA

Objective: To identify and classify the various natural resources of California by making a classroom mural using National Geographicmagazines.


  • National Geographicmagazines
  • butcher paper
  • glue
  • scissors

After having read the lesson (Unit 1, Lesson 3) on California's natural resources, the class will make a large mural on butcher paper. The paper will be divided into five sections--one for each resource. Each child will be responsible for finding one example of each resource in the old issues of National Geographic magazines. They need to cut out the pictures and glue them onto the correct section of the mural.

Students can do further research about natural resources in California and elsewhere by logging on to site National Geographic ( It is great, and it is especially built for kids!

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