K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Field Trip Idea from Discover NC

Complement this lesson plan with a field trip to the Meherrin Indian Tribe and experience a Pow-Wow and see demonstrations of Meherrin Indian culture through dance, a drum competition, pottery, and beading.

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Related pages

  • North Carolina American Indian stories: In this lesson students will select and read stories from some of the North Carolina American Indian tribes. They will compare and contrast two stories of their choice and complete a Venn diagram. Students will use the information on the Venn diagram to write three paragraphs. After reading several American Indian tales or legends, students will then create their own legend using the narrative writing process.
  • North Carolina Cherokee Indians: The Trail of Tears: In this two week unit, students will study the Cherokee by participating in literature circles, learning about Native American story telling, writing a letter to Andrew Jackson to protest against the Creek War, and more.
  • Museum of the Cherokee Indian: Official site of the museum of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina.

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Learning outcomes

Students will state components of a powwow and recognize they are an important part of Native American culture.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

4 days


  • Blank construction paper
  • Crayons, markers, colored pencils
  • Powwow by George Ancona

Technology resources

  • A computer with internet access
  • Student access to the internet
  • Quicktime (available as a free download at Apple)


Day 1

Ask students what they think of when they hear the word “powwow.” Listen for terms such as Native American, Indian, dancing, etc. Provide students with blank paper and instruct them to draw a picture of what they think a powwow looks like. Share pictures.


Day 2

  • Tell students that today they are going to hear a book and see pictures of the Crow Fair, which is a large powwow held in the United States.
  • Read aloud the book Powwow, by George Ancona, making sure to give students ample time to view the photographs. Compare the pictures they drew the day before with photographs from the book.

Day 3

  • Prior to coming in to the computer lab, create a document containing links to websites that you as a teacher have previewed. Save this document as “read only” to the network.
  • In the computer lab, instruct students to the open the document and have them visit each of the sites as they learn more about powwows and the jobs and activities associated with them.
  • As they are researching, monitor students by floating and answering questions as needed. Students should take notes as needed.
  • End the lesson with discussion of how the sites differed. Do different tribes of Native Americans celebrate powwows in different ways?

Day 4

  • Now that students have researched and viewed pictures and small video clips of real powwows, distribute copies of the comic strip For Better or For Worse by Lynn Johnston from the dates September 28 to October 7, 2005. These strips detail events of a powwow in the fictitious Ojibwa village of Mtigwaka.
  • After students have read the strips, lead a discussion as to how a comic strip can present an authentic view of Native American life.
  • As a culminating activity, students will write their own three or four panel comic strip of a powwow. The strip should contain information they have learned from their research. If needed, students can return to the computer to review the websites.


Students will be graded on the following criteria:

  • Students have created at least a three-panel strip.
  • Comic strip represents a realistic representation of a powwow.
  • Comic strip reflects what students have learned from their research on powwows.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 4

        • 4.C.1 Understand the impact of various cultural groups on North Carolina. 4.C.1.1 Explain how the settlement of people from various cultures affected the development of regions in North Carolina (languages, foods and traditions). 4.C.1.2 Explain how the artistic...
      • Grade 5

        • 5.C.1 Understand how increased diversity resulted from migration, settlement patterns and economic development in the United States. 5.C.1.1 Analyze the change in leadership, cultures and everyday life of American Indian groups before and after European exploration....

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 5

  • Goal 1: The learner will apply key geographic concepts to the United States and other countries of North America.
    • Objective 1.01: Describe the absolute and relative location of major landforms, bodies of water,and natural resources in the United States and other countries of North America.
  • Goal 2: The learner will analyze political and social institutions in North America and examine how these institutions respond to human needs, structure society, and influence behavior.
    • Objective 2.08: Describe the different types of families and compare and contrast the role the family plays in the societal structures of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and selected countries of Central America.
  • Goal 3: The learner will examine the roles various ethnic groups have played in the development of the United States and its neighboring countries.
    • Objective 3.07: Describe art, music, and craft forms in the United States and compare them to various art forms in Canada, Mexico, and selected countries of Central America.