Native American games include both well-known games like lacrosse and lesser known games that your students will also enjoy. Get some movement and fun into your lessons by including games in your study of Native Americans.
Some books including Native American Games:
- Native American Games and Stories by James and Joseph Bruchak divides games into ball games, games of chance, games of skill, and “awareness games,” which can be particularly useful for developing 21st century skills, as well as giving a quiet respite in a rambunctious lesson. The categories of games are introduced with Native American folktales, and there’s lots of historical information. This is a great book for your studies of Native Americans in general.
- Traditional Native American Arts and Activities, from the Celebrating Our Heritage series, includes Inupiat and Chumash games, along with craft projects and recipes. There are clear directions for everything, and lots of ideas that will work for classroom or less formal settings.
- Handbook of American Indian Games is, as you can tell from the title, an older book, and not a fun read for kids, but it does have descriptions of lots of sports and games.
- Math Games & Activities from Around the World includes a number of Native American games with math connections.
- Online games with Native American themes, plus information on Native American toys.
- The Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center lists some of my favorite Native American games.
- A long list of Alaskan Native American games includes a number of physical challenges.
- The National Park Service has a Stick Game lesson plan.
- Snow snake game would clearly be more dramatic in the snow, but I think you could play it carefully in the hallway.
One of the simplest and most common games was this basic gambling game. We’re not encouraging gambling, but we think it’s good for math:
- Mark one side of dried beans with permanent marker.
- One player shakes them up in a small bowl or basket and drops them.
- Count the beans that land marked side up.
- Play to an agreed-upon number (it was often 20). First person to reach the number is the winner.
- For your kindergartners, this is a good game for counting and simple addition; older students can use this game for explorations of probability.