Lesson Plan

The People and the Land (Changing Times)

Native Alaskan youth sitting near a river
What happens when different cultures meet?
NPS Photo / Nathan Kostegian

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Grade Level:
Fifth Grade-Sixth Grade
American Indian History and Culture, Anthropology, Geography, Pioneer America, Social Studies, Sociology, Westward Expansion
Two 1 hour sessions
Group Size:
8 or fewer
National/State Standards:
National Standards for ...
Social Studies:
Standards I, II, III, IV, V

Elements 1, 2, 4, 6

Standards 1, 2, 3, 7

Topics 1, 2,
Era 8


In "People and the Land (Changing Times)," students will how and when cultural interactions occurred in the Denali area, and how those interactions changed each culture.

Our "People and the Land" unit is broken into five lesson plans, taking 30 - 180 minutes to complete, and targeted at varying grade levels. A class needn't complete every lesson in the unit - each lesson comes with its own set of objectives and resources. This is lesson 4 of the unit.


Guiding Question: How and when did cultural interactions occur in the Denali area? How did they affect the culture?

Critical Content: Students will learn about cultural interactions from an historical perspective.

Student Objectives: Students will ...

  • review historical accounts
  • identify pertinent information from readings (events and dates)
  • integrate information from various sources



Our "The People and the Land" unit is broken into five lesson plans, each taking 45 - 120 minutes to complete, and targeted mainly at fifth and sixth grade students. A class needn't complete every lesson in the unit, though some lessons do refer to one another and are better done in sequence. However, each lesson comes with its own set of objectives and resources.

The final lesson, "The People and the Land (Team Research)" can be done independently, as a research project, or as a final assessment after having done some, or all, of the other lessons in the unit.

Check out the other lessons:

Lesson 1: On the Move
Lesson 2: What is Community?
Lesson 3: Coming Together
Lesson 4: Changing Times
Lesson 5: Team Research


  • Colored 5x7 index cards
  • 20 foot string/rope
  • 50+ clothespins or large paperclips.


Before you begin:

Students will break into groups. Each group will focus on a certain aspect of history and identify items of importance to include on a timeline. Each group will create their own timeline, writing one item of importance on each index card.

After the groups have completed their individual timelines, the class will come together to integrate their timelines into one giant timeline that covers each topic area listed below. Cards will be hung on a clothesline in timeline order. Simultaneous items or items that overlap in timing, will be hung by attaching cards vertically to one another.

To prepare, you will need to hang a clothesline, and make copies of the histories.

Divide the class up into small groups. Each group will focus on one of the following: Alaska Native history; Non-native history; Transportation; Tourism; Subsistence and Annual calendar (what happens during each season.). Subsistence and Annual Calendar can be completed by one group.

Hand out index cards to each group. A specific color of cards will be used for each group. For example, the group studying the Alaska Native history will use only blue index cards. The Non-native history group will use only pink index cards.

Review with the class how to pick out important facts from the readings.

Each item of importance will be written on a separate index card. Students must provide enough information to be able to explain the item to the rest of the class. If possible, include dates. Students must keep the items in chronological order.

Adaptations: Teacher may want to prepare markers to put on the rope as guides for when items of importance occurred.

Once students have read through their histories, recovered what they think are the important items and recorded these items on their index cards, come back together as a class. Describe how the class will create a timeline on the clothesline. You may want to include cards that mark certain years on the timeline. Students will need to decide where they'd like to include the "Annual Timeline" of subsistence as it spans one year rather than several years. You may also want to include "Annual Timeline" research from early Alaska Native calendars and from present day Alaska Native calendars.

Class will come together and discuss the order of their timeline. They will create their timeline by hanging their cards at the appropriate spot on the timeline. They may want to come up with a method for illustrating items that happen simultaneously (you may want to hang these cards vertically, attaching them with tape, paper clips, or clothespins.

Adaptations: Teacher may want to prepare markers to put on the rope as guides for when items of importance occurred.


Use the timeline as a spring board for students to review primary documents and add information to the timeline. Students may want to research a specific person's life and integrate into the timeline.