Lesson Plan

Housing:  Early Homes

Phases of earth lodge construction NPS Sketch
Phases of earth lodge construction NPS Sketch

NPS Sketch

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History, Language Arts, Reading, Writing
45-60 min
Group Size:
Up to 24
National/State Standards:
Social Studies:
Fourth Grade
Eighth Grade
8.1.1 ,8.1.2 

Language Arts: (writing)
Fourth Grade
Eighth Grade
earth lodge, fire-pit, stringer posts, rafter poles, smoke hole, bull boat, willows, extended family


Students will gain deeper understanding about earth lodge construction by visualizing life in a Hidatsa village through guided imagery and by viewing the building an earth lodge video.  They will have an opportunity to design and build their own replica earth lodge. 


The students will:
Develop empathy for others as theymake connections through photographs.
Design and construct a replica earth lodge


You Ought to Be in Pictures prepares students to read a passage using pictures and guided imagery to process newlearning. It primes them to learn from text materials that may otherwise be regarded as cold and impersonal.
Photographs can evoke a sense of mood and convey meaningful information that communicates far beyond written description.
Guided imagery using photographs provides an excellent opportunity for students to record observations and thoughts in writing.   


Student Background Reading

Pictures and drawing of earth lodges from the Internet



Students ask questions during reading and discussion.
Students ask questions during the planning, design and construction of a replica earth lodge.


Student constructed earth lodges exhibit thought and consideration of Hidatsa values and culture discussed during the lesson.

Park Connections

KnifeRiver Indian Villages National Historic Site contains some of the best preserved examples of remnant earthlodge villages along the Missouri River in North and South Dakota. The three main sites are Big Hidatsa National Historic Landmark (Hidatsa Village), Lower Hidatsa (Awatixa Xi'e) Village, and Sakakawea (Awatixa) Village sites.


Invite a Mandan, Hidatsa, or Arikara speaker to your class for a presentation. 

There is a video in the production stage, which will be located on our media website when it is complete. It would be good to show the video in lesson1 as an opening or closing activity.

Additional Resources

A Song for the Horse National Park Service

The Lewis & Clark Expedition

Hidatsa Language CDs


Earth lodge, fire-pit, stringer posts, rafter poles, smoke hole, bull boat, willows, extended family