Lesson Plan

Natural v. Man-Made Resources: The Arrival of the Spanish Settlers

Tinwork by: Jason Younis y Delgado, 5th Generation Tinsmith

Overall Rating

Add your review
Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
3.W.3, 4.W.3, 5.W.3
State Standards:
State: New Mexico
Subject: History                   
Grade Level: 3rd-4th

History Content Standard IA – Describe how contemporary and historical people and events have influenced New Mexico communities.
Thinking Skills:
Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Applying: Apply an abstract idea in a concrete situation to solve a problem or relate it to a prior experience. Analyzing: Break down a concept or idea into parts and show the relationships among the parts. Creating: Bring together parts (elements, compounds) of knowledge to form a whole and build relationships for NEW situations.


With the introduction of metal, the culture of New Mexico has taken a dramatic and important shift in our history. Students will understand how man-made resources can either negatively or positively (or both) affect relations, culture and lifestyles in New Mexico.


Metal changed the lives of all the Native Americans living in New Mexico, both past and present. The introduction of this man-made material caused much anger, frustration, power, neglect, acceptance, beauty, culture and traditional ways of lifestyles among the Ancestral Puebloans and the Spanish settlers. Metal changed the way these two cultures interacted with one another: both positively and negatively. These interactions are a crucial mark in our history, as they defined the beginning and perhaps the lasting relationships between the two groups. Though metal was foreign at first when first introduced into the New World, it became very much a part of a New Mexican ideology and is a continuous symbol of our past, present, and future cultures.

 Tinsmithing began with the early invasion of the Moors, (peoples of Arab and Berber decent) of Spain around 700AD. These people, then, passed the techniques into Spain, where it remained for hundreds of years. With Onate's journey into New Mexico in the late 1500s, he and his troops began looking for silver around the area to continue the tradition. Tinwork later became used in family households for various items including candle-holders, picture frames, bowls, cantinas and other useful items around the home. The techniques and traditions are still alive today in New Mexico.



One copy of “Natural v. Man-Made” handout per student.

One copy of “Resource Information” sheet per student.

Highlight copies of the “Resource Information” if students need reading support.

One copy of “New Mexico in the Early 1800’s: A Diary Entry” per student.


Students will complete this handout to learn about the difference between man-made and natural resources in New Mexico during the early 1800's.

Download Natural v. Man-Made Handout

Students will read this sheet to learn about the difference between man-made and natural resources in New Mexico during the early 1800's.

Download Resource Information Sheet


1. Ask students to list examples of natural resources and man-made resources on a piece of paper. Share the examples and discuss the difference.

2. Have students answer the following “Would You Rather” Question: Would you rather live for the rest of your life with only natural resources or only man-made resources? Why?

3. They should feel conflicted since without natural resources they wouldn’t have water or air, but without man-made resources they couldn’t protect themselves (spears) or keep themselves warm (fire).

4. Explain to students that very similar to fire, tin was a man-made resource that completely changed the way that people lived in the 1800's in New Mexico by changing what they made their homes with. Ask students to predict what those homes would look like.

5. Students will break up into two groups: NATURAL VS. MAN MADE. Have students fill out worksheet. On the worksheet, they have to choose one example to focus on. For their resource of focus, have them draw a separate example of how their resource would be beneficial according the appropriate time period in New Mexico. How would people benefit from the use of their resource?

6. Remind students that when the Spanish arrived in New Mexico, they were powerful due to their man-made or brought resources, such as weapons, horses, and armor. However, the natives were able to survive off the natural resources.

7. Ask students to write a diary entry from one of two perspectives: either as a native person to New Mexico or as a Spanish settler. See diary directions for more details.

8. After completing the diary entry, the students should find someone who wrote a diary entry from the opposite perspective and trade diaries to read each other’s work.


Whitesmiths – a person who makes articles out of metal, especially tin.

Scoring – to cut or scratch a notch or lin on a surface.

Stamping – to impress a pattern or mark on a surface using an engraved block or hammer.

Anvil – A heavy steel or iron block with a flat top, concave sides, and typically a pointed end, on which metal can be hammered and shaped.

Tin – a silvery-white metal

Tinsmith - tinsmith, or tinner or tinker or tinplate worker, is a person who makes and repairs things made of light-colored metal, particularly tinware. By extension, it can also refer to the person who deals in tinware.

Tinware - materials made with tin.

Natural resources – resources from nature or the environment.

Man-made resources – resources made by people.

Assessment Materials

New Mexico in the Early 1800’s: A Diary Entry

Students will write a diary entry from the perspective of the Spanish settler or a native person to demonstrate understanding of the differences in the culture and lifestyle of each. 

NM diary

Download Assessment

Supports for Struggling Learners

Give students a highlighted copy of the resource information sheet.

Put students into mixed-ability groups to research their type of resource.

Enrichment Activities

Have studentsresearch man made materials today. (I.e. cars, computers, I phones, etc.) Tell students to make a list of the positive and negative effects of these items on
our society today. Do these items make it easier to live today or 400 years ago
in the same place? What natural resources do we still use and how do we use
them? These are good questions that will help students develop research skills
to better understand the Spanish influence on the Native Americans in several


If interested, you may have a ranger from Petroglyph National Monument present the Spanish Colonial trunk to the students before they begin examining the important influences of metal in the Native American and Spanish cultures. This will give students a good background for them to begin making a list of the different tools that were introduced by the Spanish. For more information on this trunk, call 505-899-0205 ext.332 and schedule a visit! Traveling Trunks: https://www.nps.gov/petr/forteachers/traveling-trunks-at-petroglyph-national-monument.htm


Additional Resources

Sánchez, Joseph P. Don Fernando Duran Y Chaves’s Land and Legacy. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico. 1998.

Sánchez, Joseph P. Between Two Rivers: The Atrisco Land Grant in Albuquerque History, 1692-1968. Norman: University of Oklahoma, 2008.

Children's Resources:

Anaya, Rudolfo. La Llorona: The Crying Woman. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 2010.

Anaya, Rudolfo. The First Tortilla. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 2007.

Luenn, Nancy, and Robert Chapman. A Gift for Abuelita: Celebrating the Day of the Dead. Flagstaff, AZ: Rising Moon, 1998

Contact Information

Email us about this lesson plan

Last updated: May 21, 2015