Native American Plant Use Chart

This is a tool we sometimes used in my classroom when studying the many ingenious ways that Contact Era Native Americans interacted with the marvelous plants of this region. The chart was a prompt to the students to commit to writing some of the new information that they had gleaned from their own research – or from class field trips to the nearby meadow, wetland or forest. During these forays, we had focused on identifying key species that contributed to the well-being of the First Americans. We had discussed the properties of the various species while standing next to the plants themselves, under a New Hampshire sky, surrounded by calling birds and chirping insects – an ideal situation, in so many respects, for many important kinds of learning.

By challenging students to remember – and write down – what they have heard or read, and to connect the specific structures of the various plants to particular human activities, a written project like this can help reinforce scientific and cultural learning. It results in a finished visual product that can aid with assessment, reinforce memories, and be shared with a wider audience such as families or younger students in the school.