Native California’s Diverse Cultures

Brittany Zae

In this lesson, students will learn about the origin of stories from tribes, and understand how to demonstrate respect for others’ beliefs. American Indian origin stories are not to be treated or told as a simple fairy tale, and therefore this lesson will teach students the appreciation of diverse cultures and communities.

Grade Level: 3 - 4th

Subject: Social Studies

Length of Time: About 45 Minutes

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Objectives & Outcomes

Students will be able to retell the Native Californian Origin story and several other tribal origin stories and then respectfully discuss similarities and differences.

Materials Needed

  • Internet access to retrieve Tales of Wonder I
  • Copy of The Yokutch Creation Story
  • Copies of blank Character Map Worksheets (can be made)


Opening to Lesson

To begin the lesson, draw on background information and explain an American Indian to students. In addition, discuss what an American Indian creation story is.

Body of Lesson

Direct Teaching

Watch a short video from Tales of Wonder I, and follow up by reading the Yokutch Creation Story, “The Creation of Man.” Develop questions from the Yokutch story to discuss with students “who, what, where, when, why, how…” Try reading the story again, either silently or in groups, explaining that this is how the Native American people have learned for centuries. We remember when we hear lessons many times so that we can learn them.

Guided Practice:

Facilitate a discussion, asking questions such as:

  • What is similar about the various creation stories?
  • What is similar about all human cultures?
  • Why do all people have a need for stories like these?
  • On the other hand, what are the differences in creation stories?
  • What can we tell about the variety of different groups by hearing their creation stories?
  • What things in the world would you say are important for the Native California people?
  • How do people use creation stories in their everyday life?
  • How do creation stories affect people’s behavior?
  • What sorts of laws might be based on origin stories?

Independent Practice

Students will be asked to complete a character map about the creation story.


The lesson will end with a discussion about the bubble maps. Students will be asked to compare their maps with classmate’s character descriptions.

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Assessment & Evaluation

Students will be assessed by their participation during the class discussion as well as the completion of both worksheets.

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