3rd - 5th Grade Lesson Plans

Florida’s First People

This lesson plan complements the following grade-level standards.

4th: SS.4.A.1.1; SS.4.A.1.2; SS.4.A.9.1; SS.4.A.2.1;
LAFS.4.1.6.1; LAFS.4.1.6.5; LAFS.4.4.2.1; LAFS.4.4.2.2; LAFS.4.5.2.1; SC.4.N.1.1; SC.4.N.1.2; SC.4.N.1.4; SC.4.N.1.5; SC.4.E.6.3

LESSON PLAN OVERVIEW

Students will discover how Florida’s first people lived, how their communities changed over time, and why they eventually disappeared. They also will learn about some of the methods archaeologists use to unlock clues to life in the past.  Students will examine these changes by using primary sources, including images, videos, and interactives, along with worksheets, and background information.

Activity 1. Every Object Tells a Story

Activity 2. Deconstructing DeBry

Activity 3. Clan Conundrums

Every Object Tells a Story

Students investigate how archaeologists classify tools into categories based on their form and function.

Activity #1 - Every Object Tells a Story

 

 

Lesson Essential Question: How do ancient tools help us understand how Florida’s First People live?

Objective: Students investigate how archaeologists classify tools into categories based on their form and function.

Materials: 

  • Link to TBHC Florida’s First People gallery Tool Time presentation
  • Images of Artifacts
  • About the Artifacts sheet (for teacher reference)
  • Form & Function, and Artifact Analysis worksheets

 

Instructions

Form and Function

  • Instruct the student to view the TBHC First People gallery Presentation: Tool Time by the History Center’s Curator of Education Brian Buttafuoco for background information on prehistoric tools and their uses. Link: Tool Time 
  • Introduce the activity by explaining that prehistoric peoples made their tools out of available materials. Discuss with students how different materials like shell, stone, bone or wood have different qualities that make them suitable fordifferent uses.
  • Using the Artifacts images to illustrate, explain the diffrence between primary tools (tools that serve an end directly, such as a screwdriver) and secondary tools (tools used to make other tools, such as an awl), and between simple tools (consisting of only one part) and complex tools (made up of more than one part).
  • Have students complete the Form & Function worksheet.

Analyzing the Artifacts

  • Let students know that they will analyze the artifacts to see what they tell us about how they were made and used.
  • Have each student download an Artifact Analysis worksheets. Be sure that all students understand how to fill out the worksheet.
  • Have students fill out a worksheet for each artifact. Discuss the results as a class.

 

Artifact Analysis Worksheet

Name 

Date 

Choose one artifact to examine and fill out the information below. 

Size: Max. length        Max. width

 Materials: (Wood, bone, shell, stone, plant fiber, etc.)

 Features: (Shape, Color)  Textures

Use: What might it have been used for? Is this a simple or complex tool? Is it a primary or secondary tool?  (Highlight one)

 Sketch the Artifact then scan and submit to the teacher.

Form & Function Worksheet Primary tools serve a direct end (like a screwdriver). Secondary tools are used to make other tools (like an awl). Simple tools are made up of only one part (like sandpaper). Complex tools are made up of more than one part (like a saw). 

Are the tools below primary or secondary tools? Are they simple or complex? Draw a line from the tool to the correct categories on the right. Each tool will have two lines.

 

Form & Function Worksheet – Answer Key

Knife – Primary and Complex

Atlatl – Primary, Simple

Pottery paddle – Primary, Simple

Shell axe – Primary, Complex

Chert – Secondary, Simple

 

Information for the Teacher

About the Artifacts

Shell ax:  Early Indians used this woodworking tool to chop down small trees and cut lengths of logs. They would have needed it to build houses, dugout canoes, and walls around villages. Bow drill fire-making kit A fire-making kit included a bow, drill, and fireboard. The drill was placed in one of the holes on the fireboard and spun using the bow. The friction created heat and sparks. Flammable material, such as plant fluff, was placed under the fireboard to catch the sparks. 

Model dugout canoe:  Early Indians made dugout canoes by hollowing out pine or cypress logs using a process of burning and scraping. Ranging from 15 to 50 feet in length, dugout canoes were used to navigate bodies of saltwater and freshwater. 

Shell adz:  This woodworking tool was used to shape objects such as bowls, masks, and carvings. 

Atlatl:  This hunting tool was used for hurling a spear with great force. It acted as an extension of the forearm so that the tip of the atlatl propelled a spear with greater speed than the arm would alone. 

Shell pendant or shell gorget:  A symbol of wealth and power, these pieces of shell jewelry would have been worn by a man with important social standing in a community. 

Pottery paddle:  This wooden tool was used to decorate pottery. The paddle, carved with a design, was pressed onto the soft clay to create a pattern. 

Chert hammer stone:  This piece of stone was used to not only hammer objects but could also be fashioned into sharp arrowheads, knife blades, scrapers, and ax heads. More commonly known as “flint,” pieces of chert were later used in flintlock firearms.

 

About Florida’s First People

Additional Resources

People first reached Florida at least 12,000 years ago. The rich variety of environments in prehistoric Florida supported many plants and animals. The animal population included most mammals that we know today. In addition, many other large mammals that are now extinct-such as the saber-tooth tiger, mastodon, giant armadillo, and camel-roamed the land. 

The Florida coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico was very different 12,000 years ago. The sea level was much lower than it is today. As a result, the Florida peninsula was more than twice as large as it is now. The people who inhabited Florida at that time were hunters and gatherers, who only rarely sought big game for food. Modern researchers think that their diet consisted mostly of small animals, plants, nuts, and shellfish. These first Floridians settled in areas where steady water supply, good stone resources for tool making, and firewood were readily available. 

Over the centuries, Florida’s native people developed complex cultures. During the period prior to contact with Europeans, native societies of the peninsula developed cultivated agriculture, traded with other groups in what is now the southeastern United States, and increased their social organization, reflected in large temple mounds and village complexes.

When European explorers arrived in the 1500s they gave names to the different native populations, such as the Calusa, Tocobaga, Timucua, Apalachee, and Tequesta. Europeans also introduced new items such as cattle, pigs, horses, glass, metal, and guns. 

After thriving for thousands of years, Florida’s native population died out by the mid-1700s as a result of disease, enslavement, and warfare brought on by European explorers. Much of what we know about Florida’s pre-history comes from archaeological evidence including shell mounds, tools, dugout canoes, and other items left behind by native peoples. 

Deconstructing DeBry

Students examine a 1591 engraving by Theodore DeBry in order to understand how one artist’s work influenced the European perception of Florida’s earliest inhabitants.

Activity #2 - Deconstructing DeBry

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson Essential Question:  How do we accurately interpret history through art?

 Objective:  Students examine a 1591 engraving by Theodore DeBry in order to understand how one artist’s work influenced the European perception of Florida’s earliest inhabitants

 Materials:

  • Image: Their Way of Killing Crocodiles
  • Background information (for teacher reference)
  • DeBry Engraving sheet (one copy per student)
  • Engraving Analysis worksheet (one copy per student)
  • Engraving Analysis answer key (for teacher reference)

1. Prepare for the activity by displaying the image: Their Way of Killing Crocodiles so students can observe it. Have students download the DeBry Engraving sheet and the Engraving Analysis worksheet.

2. Begin the lesson by explaining to students that Theodore DeBry was a Dutch artist who made the Killing Crocodiles engraving. His engraving was an attempt to recreate a drawing done by another artist who had visited Florida many years before. Discuss why DeBry might have made the engraving.

3. Instruct students to carefully study the DeBry Engraving sheet. Ask them to read the directions on the Engraving Analysis worksheet and complete it on their own.

4. Using the Engraving Analysis answer key to guide the discussion, ask students about their conclusions of the engraving. Discuss what impressions Europeans might have had about Florida’s early inhabitants based on DeBry’s engraving. 


 Their Way of Killing Crocodiles DeBry Engraving

Below is a picture of an engraving called Their Way of Killing Crocodiles. The engraving was published in 1591 in England. The engraver Theodore DeBry hoped this image would help Europeans understand more about the Indians and North America.

 Follow the directions on the Engraving Analysis worksheet to decide what you think is true and false about this image.

Deconstructing DeBry:  Men Hunting Alligators Analysis Worksheet

Step 1. Observation Study the engraving for two minutes. Form an overall impression of the engraving and then examine individual items. Next, divide the engraving into quadrants – use a pencil and a ruler if needed. Study each section to see what new details become visible.

B. Use the chart below to list people, objects and activities in the engraving.

 Step 2. Inference Based on your observations, the readings and common sense, list three things you might conclude from the engraving.

 Step 3. Inference What seems true about this engraving?

What seems false about this engraving?

 


 

 

 

Teacher Reference – Deconstructing DeBry

Men Hunting Alligators Activity Answers

What’s true in the picture:  This probably is how the Indians hunted alligators (not crocodiles) even if the alligators did not look like the one in the picture.  Alligators have hard scales under the skin on their backs.  Arrows and spears would not go through these scales.  Flipping an alligator over to expose its softer belly was a good idea.  If the Indians could ram a tree trunk in the alligator’s mouth, the pole would get stuck in the animal’s mouth and throat and would no longer be able to bite anyone. The hunters then grabbed the pole and turned it – and the alligator – over.  They could now wound the alligator on its soft belly.  It probably did not take many men to complete this task.  Women and children would not have hunted alligators.

What’s false in this picture: Indian bows were not curved on the ends like the ones in the engraving, and the plants drawn in the background are not the kind of plants that grow in Florida.  In addition, men should not be naked.  They should be wearing some kind of protective clothing.  Imagine hunting an alligator naked!

The alligator (no crocodiles lived in Florida at this time) in the front would have been about 80 feet long.  That is way too large, even for 400 years ago.   A closer estimate of 25 feet is believable but not 80 feet.  Also, alligators do not have eyebrows, big external ears, or long wiggly fingers.  Do you think DeBry ever saw an alligator?

Finally, the Indians probably would not have hunted more than one of these dangerous animals at a time.  Putting two in the same picture may have been Le Moyne’s way of getting the whole hunting process onto a single page.

 

Teacher Reference – Deconstructing DeBry – Le Moyne and DeBry Background

Jacques Le Moyne was the first European artist to journey to what is now the continental United States with the express purpose of recording its wonders in pencil and paint.  Le Moyne’s images, which survive today in a series of spectacular engravings, provide a rare glimpse of Native American life at the pivotal time of the first contact with the Europeans – most of whom arrived with the preconceived notion that the New World was an almost mythical place in which anything was possible.   

In 1564 Le Moyne and three hundred other French Protestants landed off the coast of Florida hoping to establish the first permanent European settlement in the sprawling territory that would become the United States.  Their quest ended in gruesome violence, but Le Moyne was one of the few colonists to escape, returning across the Atlantic to create dozens of illustrations of the local Native Americans – works of lasting importance to scholars.  

Although Theorore DeBry did not enter Jacques Le Moynes’s life until it was all but over, they nonetheless “formed a deep friendship” in DeBry’s words.  And while DeBry may have had ulterior motives for this assertion, a bond between the two men would hardly have been unlikely.  Both were artists and ardent Protestants who, buffeted by the great upheavals of the age, had been forced to endure nomadic lives as exiles. 

DeBry had been trained as a goldsmith, an honored profession during the Renaissance, and one that required a vast range of artistic skills.  Yet although he would continue to describe himself as a member of that trade for most of his life, his lasting fame would come in another art.  Copperplate engraving had set off a publishing revolution in the sixteenth century, and because the tools, materials and techniques of the engraver were so similar to those of the goldsmith, many craftsmen practiced both professions.  DeBry proved to be not only a brilliant engraver but a visionary one, pioneering a new way to bring together picture and word. 

DeBry’s grandest literary undertaking began with his meeting of Le Moyne.  The two men met through mutual connections and spent much of their time discussing the artist’s Florida exploits about which DeBry “gathered information on a great many questions” as he later wrote.  They also engaged in business negotiations.  DeBry would later insist that they had reached an agreement about publishing the Florida materials. But the facts remain that Le Moyne failed to turn them over and DeBry went home empty-handed. 

When DeBry returned to London a year later, Le Moyne had died.  With renewed hope, DeBry approached the artist’s widow and pressed his offer – this time with success.  Pleased with the acquisition, he set about plans for his publishing venture, expending “diligent pains in engraving the pictures on copper plates.”  In doing so he would forever preserve – and forever obscure – the work of Jacques Le Moyne.

 

Clan Conundrums

Imagining that they are members of a Tocobaga clan, students work in groups to solve a dilemma using a tool that fits their role in the clan.

Activity #3 - Clan Conundrums

 

 

 

Lesson Essential Question: How might Florida’s First People used tools to solve problems?

Objective:  Imagining that they are members of a Tocobaga clan, students work in groups to solve a dilemma using a tool that fits their role in the clan.

Materials: 

  • Images of artifacts
  • 3 Clan Conundrums challenges
  • Clan Roles (one per student)

 

Instructions

1. Divide the class into three groups and let students know that each group represents a different Tocobaga clan. Discuss with students that native people belonged to clans, which were groups of relatives. Children automatically belonged to their mother’s clan. A father and his relatives would have belonged to a different clan. Clans were often named after animals or natural elements, such as Panther, Deer, Wind or Earth.

2. Have each group come up with a name for their clan. Give each clan one Clan Conundrum challenge and give each student one Clan Role.

3. Ask each clan member to look at the artifact images and decide which one best fits their role.

4. Explain to students that the characters in the Clan Conundrum stories are presented with a problem that they need to solve. Have the students read the story.

5.  Instruct the groups to identify the problem that needs to be solved. Ask them to answer how they might help solve the dilemma using the tool they selected. Have each clan present their solutions to the class.

 


 

Clan Conundrum CHALLENGE #1 

Everyone is going somewhere. Is there a fire? Then she sensed the flight of the animals  had something to do with the strange, twisting clouds. The air was heavy and difficult to breathe. She walked to the opening of the hut and looked out to observe the wild things. Out of the gloom came a family of spoonbills, beautiful birds with long necks and legs. Their spoon shaped beaks filter minute plants and animals from the inland pools. 

 During the night she awoke and watched again. The birds are flying inland, the manatee is headed out into the deep waters of the Gulf, the sand crabs are digging into the sand. This is all so strange. What does it mean? 

 In the morning, she pulled up a net full of fish. The tide was going out, farther than she had ever seen it, and it was still going. (Adapted from The Talking Earth, by Jean Craighead George) 

 What is happening in this story?

What is the challenge to be solved? Think about the tools you have to work with and make a plan.

 

Questions for discussion: 

What is important about the “strange, twisting clouds”?

 How does the behavior of the animals warn that something may happen? What can your clan do to be prepared for what is coming?

 

 


 

Clan  Conundrums  CHALLENGE #2

 The dugout slipped over the surface, riding high and quietly like a leaf. The breeze died down, the air warmed towards ninety degrees and the heat became an ominous presence that stifled even the movements of the birds. They stopped feeding and sought the shade of the distant tree islands.

The snakes liked the hot temperature. They slithered through the water, hunting delicacies.  “There are an awful lot of snakes out there,” the girl said to herself, “and they all seem to be moving west to east and that’s strange.” The sounds of the glades were strange this day. Squawks, screams, croaks, and pipings floated across the humid air. The wind changed; a cooler breeze nudged her face, and she headed for a small beach under a cabbage palm. 

Out of the water rose a tail so large it could only belong to a full-grown alligator. It was sheathed in heavy armor and spiked with sharp ridges. The monstrous tail came straight toward her. 

She dropped to the bottom of the dugout as the mammoth alligator struck the stern of the boat and catapulted it forward. It rocked, tipped, but not quite over, then hit the beach with a crack. The girl jumped ashore as a fifteen-foot alligator slammed his jaws closed on the rear of the boat. The wood splintered. A boiling turbulence marked the alligators’ flight to the bottom of the moat that surrounded the island. The moat was maintained by alligators, who weeded and dug it deep with their mouths and tails. For their efforts, fish and turtles multiplied, and the gators ate the abundant crop. 

Shaking from the scare the girl pulled the dugout canoe up onto the shore, saw that her dug out was damaged, and wondered how she would get home for her evening meal. (Adapted from The Talking Earth, by Jean Craighead George)

What is happening in this story? What is the challenge to be solved? Think about the tools you have to work with and make a plan. 

 

Questions for discussion: 

How does the behavior of the other animals warn that something may happen? 

What will the girl do to get home again? 

 How do you know whether or not the canoe can be fixed?

 

 


 

Clan Conundrums – CHALLENGE # 3

The dugout slipped over the surface, riding high and quietly like a leaf. The breeze died down, the air warmed towards ninety degrees and the heat became an ominous presence that stifled even the movements of the birds. They stopped feeding and sought the shade of the distant tree islands. The snakes liked the hot temperature. They slithered through the water, hunting delicacies.  “There are an awful lot of snakes out there,” the girl said to herself, “and they all seem to be moving west to east and that’s strange.”  

And the alligators were restless. On other trips down the slough the boy had seen them hang quietly at the surface, eyes jutting above the water, watching and waiting for food. Today they were there zigzagging beneath the surface of the water. He did not know why. Probably because it was so hot.  The sounds of the glades were strange this day. Squawks, screams, croaks, and pipings floated across the humid air. The wind changed; a cooler breeze nudged their faces, and the mother paddled the boat heading for a small beach under a cabbage palm.  A deer, ears back, eyes wide with fright, bolted across the mound and ran full speed for the far side of the island. “What is the matter with you?” the girl called to the deer. “Is there a storm?” 

 A marsh rabbit bounded over the ferns, running full out for the far side of the island. He zigged and zagged as rabbits do to confuse an enemy. The barred owl took off toward the east and over head, a flock of wood storks frantically winged in the same direction. They squawked as they kept in touch with each other. “What’s going on?” the boy called to them.

 Hardly had he spoken when the family was struck by a blast of hot air, more searing than the one they had felt earlier. It smelled of burning grass. And then they knew why the animals ran… (Adapted from The Talking Earth, by Jean Craighead George) 

 What is happening in this story? What is the challenge to be solved? Think about the tools you have to work with and make a plan.

Questions for discussion: 

How do the girl and boy know that something is not right?

What will the family do to remain safe?

 

 


 

Clan Roles

HEALER Tocobaga villages had an “Isucu” (healer) who studied medicinal plants and wore shell jewelry to protect against evil spirits

NET MAKER The Calusa were excellent fishermen and used natural plants and animal fibers to make nets. Shallow-water nets were dragged or dipped to catch fish, shrimp and crabs. Deep-water nets were set out to entangle large fish. The nets had wooden floats at the top and shell weights at the bottom.

HUNTER Tocobaga Indians hunted on the shores of Tampa Bay and in the rivers near by. Hunters also tracked animals that lived on the land.

POTTERY MAKER Tequesta women used the coil method to make pottery. They shaped the pots, imprinted them with designs, and then baked them in an open fire.

HOME BUILDER Florida Indians built homes made of wooden poles and palm fronds. Each family had a hut that was about 20 feet across. Some homes were rectangular and others were round. The huts had low doorways and a hole in the roof to let smoke escape.

 CANOE BUILDER Florida Indians constructed their canoes from pine and cypress trees. They built a fire in the middle of a log laying on the ground, damped the fire, and scraped the charred wood away. This process was repeated until enough wood had been scraped away to make a cavity deep enough to use the log as a canoe.

KEEPER OF THE FIRE Florida Indians made a fire by laying a fire board flat on the ground and holding it in place with a foot on each end. Light tinder is stuffed underneath the board to catch sparks. A fire stick is set in a hole in the fire board and a bow is wound tightly around the stick. The bow is worked back and forth against the stick until enough sparks fly to start a fire. This job requires strength and patience.

 

 


 

About the Artifacts

SHELL AXE Early Indians used this wood working tool to chop down small trees and cut lengths of logs. They would have needed it to build houses, dugout canoes and walls around villages.

BOW DRILL FIRE-MAKING KIT A fire making kit included a bow, drill and fire board. The drill was placed in one of the holes on the fire board and spun using the bow. The friction created heat and sparks. Flammable material, such as plant fluff, was placed under the fire board to catch the sparks.

MODEL DUGOUT Early Indians made dugout canoes by hollowing out pine or cypress logs using a process of burning and scraping. Ranging from 15 to 50 feet in length, dugout canoes were used to navigate bodies of salt water and fresh water.

SHELL ADS This wood working tool was used to shape objects such as bowls, masks and carvings.

ATLATL This hunting tool was used for hurling a spear with great force. It acted as an extension of the forearm so that the tip of the atlatl propelled a spear with greater speed than would the arm alone.

SHELL PENDANT (L) OR SHELL GORGET (R) hell Pendant (L) or shell forget (R) A symbol of wealth and power, these pieces of shell jewelry would have been worn by a man with important social standing in a community.

POTTERY PADDLE  This wooden tool was used to decorate pottery. The paddle, carved with a design, was pressed onto the soft clay to create a pattern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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