How I Teach It: Native Americans of Texas

This time of year I start thinking about what I did this past year, and brainstorming how I want to change it for next year to make it even better. I have been working really hard on jazzing up our Texas History plans for this coming year. So I got to thinking, and I wanted to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) to kind of line up what I plan on teaching and how before I forget about it.

I wanted to share my plan with everyone in hopes that it will help some other Texas History teachers out, because I know for me, Texas History has been one of the hardest areas to plan because there are not that many resources out there.

Starting today, I am planning on doing a series of blog posts on how I teach different parts of our Texas History curriculum.  Each post will be about a "big topic" that we cover throughout the year and the resources that I have found or come up with on my own to teach it.

To get started, I thought I would go with Native Americans of Texas. This is historically the first topic that we teach in the beginning of the year.


I like to have my students begin this unit by doing a little digging around and research on Native Americans in Texas. I was running into the trouble through that many websites they were finding did have the best information, or most appropriate information anyway. In order to combat this I found all of the "best" websites and used QR codes to put them into one document. I didn't want to be selfish with this time saving cache of information so the Native Americans of Texas Introduction and Research Resources is a FREEBIE in my TPT store!

I use this document for two things. First, I let the students explore on their own. Each pair of students, or small group, get a QR capable device and are given some time to look through information. Then when we begin our research projects, which I will talk about in a bit, the resources give them a good jumping off place to begin. 

After my students have a general understanding of different Native American groups in Texas we break it down into five specific groups to learn more about. The groups that I have chosen are the Lipan Apache, Karankawa, Comanche, Jumano, and Caddo. We use a Native American Fold-Up to take notes about each of the groups. We talk about where each tribe lived, the shelter they used, how they fed themselves, the weapons they used, and interesting facts about their tribe. 

Following our note taking, students choose the tribe they are most interested in learning about to complete more detailed research over. This is where the QR Code Research Resources come in handy again. I personally choose to have only five different groups, but you can have as many as you like. There are way more than five groups in the research packet. 

We use our Social Studies Notebooks to record our findings about our tribe. 

When each student finishes their research they then choose an artifact to create that represents their tribe. We have a VERY long talk about what artifacts are, and how they need to be museum quality because ultimately that is what we are going for. Students get into their tribal groups and each group has to create an artifact for each of the following areas; food, weapons, shelter, culture, and clothing.

Because students finish up their research and artifacts at all different times I make sure to have plenty of activities for them to do. Some are requirements, and some are choices. 

The first requirement that I have is that students complete a set of task cards about Native Americans in Texas. These task cards have a QR code twist though that allows them to be self checking. 

 Next, students complete a t-chart where they distinguish different statements about Native Americans as Before or After European Explorers came to Texas.

The culminating activity for this unit is for students to present their artifacts to the school with our Native American Museum. Each of our five 4th grade classrooms is transformed into a different room of a museum and hosts a Native American tribe. The students bring their artifacts and are the museum historians and curators. Every class in our school comes to tour the museum and the students explain their artifacts to each and every student. It is awesome!

If you have any ideas for Native Americans that you would like to share, please add them in the comments!


  1. I feel like I am one of your biggest fans (and major purchaser on TpT), and I am thrilled that you are doing a blog series on teaching Texas history! This was my first year teaching fourth grade, and I did not grow up in Texas, so I have felt "behind the eight ball" a lot of the year. I am also starting to think about what I did well, where I missed the boat and how I am going to do a better job of teaching it next year. In short, I truly appreciate your work and always look forward to your next post. I'm getting close to owning all that you have created for ELA and Social Studies! LOL! Thanks, again, for sharing!!

    1. Kim,
      I am so glad that you have commented, because I have noticed all of your purchases and kind feedback. I would love to give you a "sneak peek" of what I am working on and send you a few new items on me. You have been an amazing customer and I am very appreciative of all the feedback that you have left as well! Please email me at so that I can send some goodies your way!

  2. Hi there! I love, love, love your stuff - especially this unit! I am wondering if you have a link to your foldable. When I click on the picture and the link, they both take me to the task cards, which I will be downloading!

  3. Thank you so much! The link to the fold-up is
    Thank you again!

  4. Okay - I was going to spend the whole weekend working on a unit like this and I think you have just saved me LOTS of hours! Awesome! You rock!


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