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Design An Indigenous Shelter | Project Based Learning | Paper

Design An Indigenous Shelter | Project Based Learning | Paper

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Keep your students engaged in learning about Indigenous People in Canada through this exciting project about shelters and dwellings. Students are hired by a museum to design a new teaching display in this project-based learning activity.

Have your students use their creative, critical, and historical thinking skills to demonstrate what they have learned about shelters used throughout history by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit People in Canada.

This resource includes:

  • a complete lesson plan for teachers explaining how to plan for, manage and assess the project.
  • modifications for differentiation.
  • student planning pages.
  • tips for project-based learning.
  • student checklists.
  • assessment rubric.
  • student examples of the maps, visual representations of the shelters, and written portions.
  • teacher background knowledge about different types of shelters and dwellings as well as geographical information about Canada.
  • student reflection pages.
  • a map of Alberta and of Canada.

Students have been hired by a museum to create a new exhibition display that will educate museum visitors about the shelter of a specific Indigenous group. They will need to present a map of the location, a visual representation of what the shelter would have looked like and will provide an explanation of the shelter to educate the visitors. This can take the form of a written piece, video or sound recording.

Ninja Note: Students need to have a basic understanding of the basic geographic knowledge of Canada or Alberta (or your specific region) in order to be successful and having an understanding of Indigenous People in Canada or Alberta will help.

This is a very open-ended task, with a clear rubric outlining the content which is expected to be addressed. For about 30 minutes of teaching time upfront (not including imparting the basic knowledge to students), students are kept engaged in their learning for 2 weeks of social studies classes.

This activity has been tested with dozens of different groups of grade four students and is a HUGE hit. Students have made shelters that included diagrams, posters, Lego®, cardboard and even one made of sticks and mud.

If you teach in Alberta, be aware this resource was written for the old Social Studies Program of Studies. It has not been reviewed or adjusted for the new Alberta social studies curriculum which is being piloted in the 2024-25 school year. To learn about how we plan to address the changes, visit our site

This task aligns with:

  • the Alberta Program of Studies for Grade 4 or Grade 5 Social Studies
  • Canadian Social Studies lessons featuring Indigenous People in Canada.

Ninja Note: This file is a PDF and requires printing for students to use the student pages. Printing the entire file is not required.

Have a question? Before contacting us, check our Frequently Asked Questions page.

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