Grade: 3

Students will understand that not every world view of North America relies on political boundaries. This lesson focuses on the traditional story of how Turtle Island came to be and allows students to draw comparisons between maps.

Essential Question

Why did the First Nations people call North America Turtle Island?

Big Idea

Students will understand that there are other ways of viewing and representing the land we now call North America.

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Lesson Outline

TIME DURATION: One lesson. Extension could take several lessons.

This lesson would follow a lesson on the Dr 3.1 , d

Once teachers have taught the lessons on various model representations of the earth, it is important to return to the idea. Not all people see the land as a series of borders, countries and regions.

This lesson can also lead to conversations about the lifestyle changes of First Nations, prior to and after placement on reserves, and the worldviews associated with ownership of the land and consider the impact those views have on a person’s relationship to the land.


  •  Compare and contrast the two maps asking students to look for similarities and differences between the Turtle Island map and the atlas map
  •  Ask students to write a short explanation on why the First Nation called it Turtle Island
  •  Or what the changes in their lives did to their view of Turtle Island


Draw what you think North America looks like.


Share the Turtle Island Power Point with the students. Introduce concept with the familiar items found at the beginning of the PowerPoint first.
Lead a discussion as to why it is important for Turtle Island to be recognized.

(It depicts where the Dakota lived prior to contact, allows students to infer what the loss of the buffalo and the rules of the government did to the Dakota lives).


Draw and colour a map of Turtle Island indicating where the Dakota people and other Plains First Nation lived.



  •  Compare and contrast the two maps asking students to look for similarities and differences between the Turtle Island map and the Atlas map.
  •  Have students discuss other ways of depicting where something is without it being a traditional map. In small groups, create a non-traditional map of the   school area.
  •  Write letters to grade 3 students at Charles Red Hawk School explaining their learning – become Pen-pals and have a Skype Visit