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Activity Overview

There are many books related to Native Americans of the Southwest that can help students better visualize and understand the people, their history, and their present. Some short picture books can be used as a whole class read-alouds, where other longer books can be used as longer novel studies. In this activity, students will create a plot summary of one of these books or stories.

The story used in this example is

Coyote: a Trickster Tale from the American Southwest by Gerald McDermott. It is a great example of the classic folktales involving trickster animals and a moral that are popular in Native American culture.

Here are some additional suggestions for literature that relates to the Indigenous People of the Southwest:

Code Talker by famed Native American author Joseph Bruchac is a novel about the brave Navajo Marines of World War II who used the unbreakable code of their Navajo language to help win the war.

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard is a picture book appropriate for ages 4 and up and is a wonderful introduction to this Native American food staple.

The Hogan That Great-Grandfather Built by Nancy Bo Flood. A story of one multigenerational Navajo family that works, plays, eats, sleeps and shares their lives together around their family hogan. It is a charming story of how the youngest children’s lives are intrinsically linked to their home and family. It's a picture book appropriate for ages 4 and up.

The Good Rainbow Road by Simon J. Ortiz is presented in Keres (the language of Acoma Pueblo and six other Pueblo communities in New Mexico) and in English. There is an additional Spanish translation in the back of the book. This book tells the legend of two courageous brothers who saved their village.

Sister Rabbit's Tricks by Emmett Shkeme Garcia, who is a member of the Santa Ana Pueblo tribe.

Turquoise Boy by Terri Cohlene tells the story of the Navajo legend of Turquoise Boy who searches for something that will help make his people’s lives better. It includes a brief history of the Navajo people and their customs.

Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse is an exciting quest adventure set in the American Southwest with heroes of Navajo heritage.

Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Dell

Knots on a Counting Rope by Bill Martin Jr. (Author), John Archambault (Author), Ted Rand (Illustrator)

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 5-6

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RH/9-10/3] Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/1] Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/7] Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/9] Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/WHST/6-8/2/B] Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Summarize the story in a 3-5 cell storyboard describing the main events in the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

Student Instructions

  1. Read the story.
  2. Click "Start Assignment".
  3. Create a 3-5 cell storyboard with descriptions and illustrations showing the sequence of major events in the story.
  4. Save and submit your storyboard.


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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Indigenous Peoples of the Southwest

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