Powwow Lesson (Lesson 1)

Title:Powwow LessonAuthor: Natasha Verhulst
Subject(s):  Music
Grade Level(s): 3-5Total Time: 30-40 Minutes

Overview / Description: Students will view and learn what a powwow is. 

Learning goals/objectives: Cultural Competence: Students will understand what a powwow is and what it stands for culturally.

Workplace Readiness Skill: (place an X in front of all which apply)

 x   Social Skills   Communication 
   Teamwork     x    Critical Thinking
 x  Attitude and Initiative    Planning and Organization
   Professionalism    Media Etiquette

Content Standards:

Wisconsin Connect Standards:

  • MG4.Cn.5.i: Compare the historical and cultural aspects of music with other disciplines.
  • MG4.Cn.6.i: Explain how music relates to self, others, and the world.
  • MG4.Cn.8.i Describe roles of musicians in various music settings and world cultures.

Social Justice Standards (Diversity Anchor) :

  • 6. Students will express comfort with people who are both similar to and different from them and engage respectfully with all people.
  • 7. Students will develop language and knowledge to accurately and respectfully describe how people (including themselves) are both similar to and different from each other and others in their identity groups.
  • 8. Students will respectfully express curiosity about the history and lived experiences of others and will exchange ideas and beliefs in an open-minded way.


Computer with projecting equipment or “Smartboard/Smart TV” technology “Bowwow Powwow” by Brenda J. Child

Wisconsin First Nations Tribal Land Map and Native Nations Facts – Can be viewed and printed here - https://wisconsinfirstnations.org/current-tribal-lands-map-native-nations-facts/

Powwow Trail Video https://theways.org/story/powwow-trail

Powwow Videos:

Another book that may be helpful to show different parts of Powwow is the “Celebrating the Powwow” by Bobbie Kalman

Learning Activities:

WHO (T=Teacher Focus Lesson; WG=Whole Group\; SM=Small Group; I=Independent)

Learning Activity Task                                                WHO is responsible
for this step?
Approximate time
for task
The teacher will turn on the powwow video of the nation that inhabited the land that the school is now on for the children to walk into and view as they are seated. T1 Minute
The teacher will welcome the students and complete their beginning of class duties (attendance, direct students to seat, etc). T2 Minutes
The teacher will start the lesson by bringing up the map of the nations in the state of Wisconsin and show the students where they currently are. Then, they will explain the nation that was there pre-contact, and show them where the nation currently resides (teachers should be sure to also explain that Natives do not only live on the reservations, but it is the reservation where the tribe is governed, and the community is together.)T2 Minutes
The teacher will also mention that point out the other tribes that exist in the state of Wisconsin, adding in that there are over 570 federally recognized tribes in the United States all with their own identities, cultures, traditions, and languages.T1-2 Minutes
The teacher will explain that one event that is held in Native communities is a powwow. The powwow is a social gathering for Native people to celebrate their culture through song, dance, language, and prayer. Powwows are held for many different reasons throughout the year.T2 Minutes
 The teacher will read the book Bowwow Powwow. While on the first page, the teacher will show the students that the book is written in English and in Anishinaabemowin which is the language of the Chippewa/Ojibwe tribes in Wisconsin. T 7-10 Minutes
 At the end of the book, the teacher will invite students to share their thoughts and have a discussion about the book. WG 5-10 Minutes
 The teacher will point out the part about the Grand Entry and different styles of dance. After doing this, the teacher will tell the students that the video on the screen when they walked in was a Grand Entry of the tribal nation of the land that they are on. T 2 Minutes
 The teacher will play the video again, guiding students in viewing the veterans and different styles of dancers that are mentioned in the book Bowwow Powwow.  T 5 Minutes
 After viewing the Grand Entry, the teacher will turn on the Powwow Trail video featuring Dylan Jennings. WG 5 Minutes
 When the video has concluded, the teacher will invite students to share their thoughts in general so far. The teacher will connect powwow to a celebration and prompt discussion by asking students what celebrations they have attended in their lives. WG 5 Minutes
 The teacher will pass out a sticky note and writing utensil or give each student the opportunity to answer their assessment question individually on the way out.  T 2 Minutes
 The teacher will ask the students to reflect on today’s lesson and share a thought or question they had, a piece of culture they learned, or connection they made during today’s lesson. WG 3 Minutes

Assessment: The teacher will collect exit slips or hear each student’s feedback about what they learned, connected to, or had questions about from the lesson.

Wrap-Up: The teacher will thank their students for being respectful while learning about a different culture and tell them they will look more closely at one of the dances during their next lesson.

Extension Activity (for intervention or enrichment): Students can research different powwows in the state on their own by looking up videos, or researching when the upcoming gatherings will take place. A student could "plan a field trip" for the class by finding this information and integrating it into the other classwork such as math to see how much it will cost to bring everyone, how far away it is, etc. 


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