ALEX Lesson Plan


Creating a Prehistoric World

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:James Holtzclaw
System: Informal Education Partner
School: Informal Education Partner
The event this resource created for:National Park Service
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 29785


Creating a Prehistoric World


In the lesson, students will research, create, and present knowledge gained about Prehistoric and Historic Native Americans in Alabama.

This lesson plan is made possible through the ALEX and the U.S. National Park Service Partnership.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
Technology Education
TC2 (2009)
Grade: 3-5
2 ) Use various technology applications, including word processing and multimedia software.

•  Using navigational features commonly found in technology applications
•  Identifying digital file types
Technology Education
TC2 (2009)
Grade: 3-5
9 ) Use technology tools to organize, interpret, and display data.

Examples: spreadsheets, databases, electronic graphing tools

Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 3
Geographic and Historical Studies: People, Places, and Regions
13 ) Describe prehistoric and historic American Indian cultures, governments, and economics in Alabama. (Alabama)

Examples: prehistoric—Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Woodland, Mississippian

historic—Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek (Alabama)

•  Identifying roles of archaeologists and paleontologists
Insight Unpacked Content
Strand: History
Course Title: Living and Working Together in State and Nation
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Reconstruct a past event using various primary sources, including calendars and timelines.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • primary sources
  • calendars
  • timelines
  • reconstructing
  • past
Students know:
  • How to use a calendar.
  • How to interpret a timeline.
  • Vocabulary: primary sources, calendar, timeline, past, historical letter, artifacts
Students are able to:
  • Read a calendar.
  • Create and use a timeline.
  • Analyze a historical document.
  • Utilize maps, photographs, and other visual historic resources.
Students understand that:
  • Primary sources play an important role in reconstructing the past.

Local/National Standards:

NCSS Strands: 1. Culture, 2. Time, Continuity and Change and 3. People, Places, and Environments

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will:

  • Investigate the prehistoric and historic Native Americans who lived in Alabama.
  • Search the Internet to locate information  about Native Americans.
  • Create a diorama of the time periods.
  • Work in cooperative groups.
  • Create a slide show.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Instructions on how to create a shoe box diorama and paper and pencils for note taking


Technology Resources Needed:

Computers with Internet access, word processing, printers, projector, and a screen



Students should have experience using word processing software and experience searching the Internet for data.


1) Teacher can invite a ranger to visit the classroom to give a presentation on the four prehistoric time periods that are represented at Russell Cave National Monument: Paleo Period, Archaic Period, Woodland Period, and Mississippian Period. (Contact Russell Cave National Monument Ranger)

2)  The teacher will involve the class in a discussion about the Native Americans that lived in Alabama during the Historic Period. The teacher will focus on:

  • How did the Native American's technology change after European contact?
  • How did their governments change after European contact?
  • How did their population decline after European contact?
  • How were they treated during the 1500s to 1800s?

Information on the Native Americans during the Historic Period:

Trail of Tears - Fort Smith National Historic Site

De Soto National Memorial

Horseshoe Bend National Military Park

Museum of the Cherokee Indian

The Chickasaw Nation

Creek Tribe Facts For Children


Five Civilized Tribes

3) The teacher will create five groups and assign each group a time period: Paleo Period, Archaic Period, Woodland Period, Mississippian Period, and the Historic Period. Allow groups to create a slide show presentation using text and Internet sources on their assigned prehistoric period. Have each group to focus on the Prehistoric Americans and Native Americans culture, economics, and government. Students will share information during a presentation.

Prehistoric Websites:

Russell Cave National Monument

Hopewell Culture National Historic Site

Ocmulgee National Monument

Shiloh Indian Mounds National Historic Site

Meadowcroft Rockshelter

4) Then the teacher will explain dioramas to students and for homework have each student create a shoebox diorama of their assigned time period.  (Diorama Instructions)

For the Historic Period have students focus on a Native American Removal Scene or a Native American Game Scene.

5) Using a computer projection device, allow each group to present their slide show to the class. To ensure student participation, each student should take notes during the presentations.

6) Have students turn in their diorama and display them in the hall or lunch room.



Assessment Strategies

Have students to take notes on  Park Rangers' presentation and groups' presentations. Afterwards, give a quiz on the groups information.

 Example questions for prehistoric quiz.

True or False

Write a T at the end of the statement if it is true.

Write a F at the end of the statement if it is false

1. The Paleo Indians were nomadic. T
2. The Paleo Indians lived in large villages. F
3. The Paleo Indians hunted the mastodons and mammoths T
4. The Archaic Indians hunted black bears and turkeys. T
5. The Archaic Indians created pottery. F
6. The Archaic Indians lived in Russell Cave. T
7. The Woodland Indians developed the bow and arrow. T
8. The Woodland Indians traded with each other. T
9. The Woodland Indians lived in villages. T
10. The Mississippian Indians did not use Russell Cave. T

Multiple Choice

Please circle the right answer.

1. The Paleo Indians are known for hunting what big animals?
A)Rabbits B) Eagles C) Squirrels D) Mastodons and Mammoths

2.The Archaic Indians used what weapon to help them hunt?
A) Gun B) Bow and Arrow C) Atlatl D) Tank

3.The Woodland Indians were the first people to create what?
A) Newspaper B) Car C) Pottery D) Television

Fill in the blank
1. Megafauna means huge animal.

2.The Paleo Indians' ancestors crossed over the land bridge between Asia and North America.

3. A peccary is a pig like creature.

4. Archaic Indians collected mussels at the rivers and streams.

5. The Mississippian Indians grew corn, squash, and beans.




Allow students to create their own tribe and give a presentation to the class. In this presentation, students will need to describe:

  • Their tools and weapons that they would use to survive.
  • What they would hunt?
  • What they would grow?
  • What kind of clothes they would wear?
  • Who would be in charge of their tribe?


Assign students for peer-tutoring to reinforce skills and knowledge obtained from this lesson. Students can refer to the websites provided in this lesson for individualized remediation.

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.