Social Studies Lesson

Social Studies Grade 6



Outcome: IN6.1: Evaluate and represent personal beliefs and values by determining how culture and place influence them.

Indicators: Give examples of the artistic expression of culture in Canada, including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, and draw conclusions about the beliefs and values of the inhabitants in those regions.



Hand out all Medicine Wheel (36) cards. Some students may have more than one card. **TELL STUDENTS TO KEEP THE CARDS FACE DOWN**


Can anyone tell me what belief’s and values mean?

Ask students to list some of their values and beliefs.

Explain that First nations peoples have other values and belief’s and they are shown through a medicine wheel.


  1. Today we are going to be looking at the Ojibway.


  1. Ask students to look at the wheel silently for 30 seconds or so and think about what they see. Have them share with a partner, and then allow time for a whole group discussion of the Wheel’s various visual elements, i.e. colour, background images, silhouettes, words etc.


  1. CIRCULAR – Point out that the Medicine Wheel is circular, and that in a circle everything is equal, balanced and interconnected. To the Ojibway nation the Medicine Wheel is the circle of life because all things in life are in a circle. The Earth is a circle (sphere) as are the Sun, Moon other planets and stars.


  1. CYCLICAL – The Medicine Wheel is also cyclical. Does anyone know what this term means? Definition: it goes around repeatedly in cycles just like the cycles of day and night, or the four seasons.


  1. Point out that the wheel is divided into four quadrants. Invite the four students who have colour words on their cards to stand up. Ask them to place the Four Colours outside the appropriate Medicine Wheel quadrant. (I.e. match background colour on cards to outer ring of wheel and place just outside wheel)


  1. Ask the class to name the four cardinal directions. They will likely say north, south, east and west. (linear perspective) Explain that on the Medicine Wheel we think of the directions in a circle and start in the East because this is where the sun rises and the day begins. Invite the four students who have direction words on their cards to place them in the appropriate quadrant. Once the four colours and four directions are placed on the Wheel, share that the Medicine Wheel teaches us about equality and respect for all people of the four colours and the four directions on Earth. The four colours come together in the centre of the wheel where all nations are joined in the spirit of unity


  1. Invite the four students who have season words to stand and place them in the appropriate quadrants. Explain that the annual cycle starts with the new life of Spring, continues through the growth of Summer, harvest in Fall and the time of rest or dormancy in Winter.


  1. Invite the four students who have the The Four Times of Day/Night to stand. The sun rises in the east, is highest in the sky at noon in the south, and sets in the west. The night time (moon) belongs in the north.


  1. Invite the students who have The Four Sacred Plants to stand. In the east is Sacred Tobacco, which is used to give thanks. Cedar is in the south and is a healing plant/tree. Found in the west is Sage, it is considered a cleansing plant. It is often burned to invite positive energy so people can see, hear, speak, think and feel things in a good way. In the north is Sweetgrass and it is like the hair of Mother Earth. It is braided to remind us that as people we are strong.


  1. The Four Animals East – Eagle – flies the highest, sees the farthest and is closest to the Creator. South – Deer – teaches about generosity and sharing. West – Buffalo – guards the western doorway and teaches people to look within themselves for guidance North – White Bear – teaches about strength, truth and the wisdom.


  1. Students with the four elements stand up (Water, Fire, Earth, Air)

All four natural elements are necessary for our survival. East – Water –all living things require clean water to survive; South – Fire –fires keep us warm and allow us to cook food. West – Earth – plants require soil and minerals to grow. North – Air – the Earth’s atmosphere is like a blanket of air, allowing everything to breathe and live.


  1. Students with The Four Stages of Life stand up. (Birth, Youth, Adult, Elder) East – Birth – Infancy and childhood; innocence, curiosity. South – Youth – adolescence; seeking, questioning West – Adult – adulthood; providing for others, care-taking North – Elder – old age; wisdom gained through experience •


  1. Whoever has the Four Aspects of Human Beings stand up (Spirit, body, heart, and mind) As humans we all four ways of knowing and learning. East – Spirit – enables us to see and have vision; knowledge is revealed South – Heart – allows us to feel and know through relating West – Body – enables us to act and do; to learn and know through responding North – Mind – allows us to think and learn/know through reflecting





Explain that balance within all these cycles is very important. Can anyone share with the class something that they found interesting or meaningful?