Wednesday, May 12, 2010

3 Ideas for Using Path of the Elders in the Classroom

You can find comprehensive Teachers’ Guides for grades 4-10 at, but to get you started here are 3 easy ideas for integrating On the Path of the Elders into the classroom! 

1)  The Canoeing Game stresses the importance of working together while drawing attention to the historical circumstances surrounding the signing of Treaty No. 9.

Before playing the Canoeing Game, use geometry to lead into a discussion about the events surrounding the treaty signing!

Give each of your students a set of tangrams and ask them to create a series of specific shapes. (Click here for a tangram outline). Insist that they work on the problems individually and give them a short time limit.

Once your students have failed to complete all the puzzles in the given time, divide the class into small groups and allow them to work on the problems together.

Ask each group to share their results with the class. Discuss how working as a group changed the problem solving process.

Explain that during the negotiations for Treaty No. 9, the government representatives approached each Aboriginal band individually. Discuss as a class how the treaty negotiations may have been different if all the bands had been able to work together. You can use the Interactive Treaty Map to guide your discussion!

2)    The Trapping Game shows how the Mushkegowuk and Anishinaabe peoples depended on their trapping and hunting skills to survive during the long winter months in Northern Ontario.

Have your students read Chapter 1 of the Essay ("Who Are the Anishinaabe and Mushkegowuk Peoples?") and browse through the Deschatelets Archive photo collection.

Discuss how location and climate affects our way of life. Ask your students to think about how their lives would be different if they were cut off from the amenities that we take for granted. As a class, brainstorm what life would have been like for the Cree and Ojibway people living in remote areas of Northern Ontario prior to European encroachment. Think about the skills and knowledge needed to survive. Discuss what similarities and differences might exist between the past and present way of life.

Have your students draw a picture or write a story detailing what their day-to-day life would have been like had they lived in northern Ontario in the 1800s.

3)    The Healing Game draws attention to the importance of passing down traditional skills and knowledge.

Have your students play the Healing Game and watch some of the videos of Elders sharing their memories and stories.

Talk about the importance of oral history, and discuss the differences between oral and written history. Ask your students to share some of the skills or stories they have learned from their own parents or grandparents.

Let your students experience the oral tradition. Arrange a visit to another classroom and have your class tell a story or teach a skill to younger students. Discuss their experiences afterwards.

How have you used Path of the Elders in the classroom? Share your ideas!

Collette Jackson, Content and Marketing Specialist at BlackCherry Digital Media, is writing on behalf of On the Path of the Elders, a free online educational resource that explores Cree and Ojibway history and culture, and the signing of Treaty No. 9.

Check out On the Path of the Elders at

For more information, email us at

Created in partnership with BlackCherry Digital Media, Archives Deschâtelets, the Doug Ellis Collection at Carleton University, Our Incredible World (Pinegrove Productions), the Mushkegowuk Council, Neh Naak Ko, the Archives of St. Paul University, Carleton University, and Wendy Campbell, Educational Consultant (Learning Methods Group).

This project was made possible with the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canadian Culture Online Strategy. Created with additional financial assistance from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the Inukshuk Fund.

1 comment:

  1. I suggest teachers tell their students to always talk with the NPCs (non-player characters) they meet in the games. NPCs usually tell the player how to play the game and convey most of the learning outcomes such as defining words like reciprocity and assertiveness.
    I understand some students might not appreciate all the reading involved in order to interaction with the people they meet, they would probably prefer to listen to audio clips of the recorded dialogue - maybe something we can add later?
    Hopefully they will be engaged by accomplishing the goals they need to achieve to win the game and take the time to read the dialogue and make decisions about knowing when to listen, when to ask a question and choosing their answers wisely.