Connect and Explore - Native Texas

Native Texan tools kit


  • Sorting & Connecting Activity (15 minutes)

    Hands-on items and images can be an excellent resource to use during the "Open" phase of a Guided Inquiry unit.


    • Place the images of artifacts on the table
    • Allow students to view all images
    • Pairs Share-- Allow students to discuss their predictions with a partner. Choose several volunteers to share their observations and ideas with the class.
    • Partners/small groups will select an image and attempt to pair it with the modern day equivalent
    • Discuss as a group 

    Geography Connection

    Ask students to predict what part of Texas these Native Texans came from? What clues do we have to their environment? View physical maps of Texas to predict where these artifacts came from. Britannica Images also includes multiple maps that show physical features of Texas.

    Reflection/Ticket Out the Door (Note: could be a Google Form)

    What do you wonder about life for Native Texans?

    *This Open activity can also be combined with the Immersion activities provided in the next tab to provide a variety of hands-on tasks that engage students with the topic.  Please refer to the drop down menu under Immerse for more ideas.

    Items to Prepare:


    Optional Resources:

  • Time & Chronology Activity / Suggested Time: 10 minutes

    Paper base 10 blocks can be a powerful tool for teaching concepts about time and chronology.

    Provide each student with a strip of ten base 10 blocks.

    ten block

    Ask students to number the blocks according to how old they are - and to stop at the age they are right now. Student will then tear off (or fold) any extra blocks.

    writing numbers on ten block

    Show students a taped chain of how old you the teacher are. Hold both up as a comparison. Then show a taped together timeline of strips of paper base ten blocks for each century dating back to the 1400's. Label each century 1400 to present in different colors. Hang up timeline in classroom for future reference. As learning occurs throughout the year add a post it of the event to the time line. 

    Teacher Talk

    We have made a visual representation of time so we can understand how long ago the Native Texans we are studying were living in Texas.In the next lesson - EXPLORE - you will get to dip into what interests you the most about the Native Texans of this time period. You will read and explore without recording any information. This will be a time to pique  your interests and dip into some facts that you find interesting. 


  • Native Tribes in Texas- Gale in Context Elementary

    "Native American tribes were the first people to live in Texas. They have lived there for about 11,000 years. Many Native American tribes still live in Texas." Gale in Context: Elementary

    Activity Students will use Gale in Context Elementary to learn basic information about different tribes in Texas.  Students will use this resource to highlight important ideas and learn to export their work into Google Drive. 

    To prepare:

    An Overview of Native Tribes in Texas - Using Gale in Context: Elementary

  • American Bison Activities

    Native American tribes depend on the American bison for many resources.

    Activity 1 

    Students will explore how different parts of the bison were used to meet many needs for the Native Texans. 

    To prepare:

    Activity 2 A second station can be set up using the resources from the Open activity, allowing students to sort and match items from the bison with modern day equivalents.  

    To prepare:

  • Painted Horses Activity

    Many Native Americans used picture symbols as their written language. 

    Activity Students will explore the meaning of various symbols. Students will use technology to create their own painted horse. 


    To prepare:

  • Be the Historian

    Many Native Americans used pictures symbols as their written language. Historians use these symbols to learn more about life long ago. 

    Activity Students will use pictorial symbols on a buffalo hide as their primary source. They will "read" the buffalo hide like a historian in order to learn more about hunting practices. 

    To prepare:

  • Texas Regions

    Where people live impacts how they live. The features of the land will decide what kind of food is available, what kind of homes are built, and even what clothing is worn. The regions across Texas vary greatly in landscape and resources. (TEKS 4.6, 4.7, 4.8)

    Activity 1 Students will read select three different regions of Texas to learn about.  They will learn about the topography, wildlife, and historical people of the region.  They will color a map to represent the regions they learned about.

    To prepare:

  • Session Starter:

    Show students several types of resources. both print and digital, that your library has available. Explain why exploring a variety of different types of resources is important. Divide students into two groups. One group browses the print collection at the tables while the second group explores online resources. 

    Work Time: (optional)

    Students will use the Stop & Jot strategy (see Guided Inquiry Design Figure 6.1) to record ideas and questions. This strategy gives students a structure for recording ideas and questions, while avoiding the tendency to start recording full-blown notes too soon in the research process.

    Google Docs version of Stop & Jot / Spanish version


    At the end of the class session, use a modified Pair Share Protocol (see Guided Inquiry Design Figure 6.2)

    • Ask students to read over their notes and find one or two things they would like to share with someone else. (Inquiry Journal Prompt: I would like to tell about...)
    • Pairs share. 
    • Debrief as a whole class.
    • Closing question (may be done as a journal prompt, a paper exit ticket or a Google form): What do you want to know more about?

    Spanish Reflection:

    Estímulo para la consulta: Me gustaría hablar sobre…

    ¿Sobre qué quieres aprender más?

Phase: Connect & Explore
  • This phase is intended to:

    Connect students to the topic and spark their interest in learning more.

    Key ideas:

    • Activate background knowledge
    • Build curiosity
    • Allow time for further topic exploration independently or in small groups
    • Begin questioning