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Using the online Comic “Rabbit and Bear Paws” to teach about the Aboriginal Community Then and Now

Section One: Project/Lesson Overview
Grade: 1-2
Elementary Social Studies
Lesson Title:
Rabbit and Bear Paws: the Aboriginal Community Then and Now
Lesson Description: Students will read a story featuring aboriginal characters in the past and will compare it to how aboriginals live today.

Time Required: One class

Specific Curriculum Outcomes:

Social Studies (You and Your World in Atlantic Canada) outcomes from Y and YW Curric. guide

Aboriginal Community Then and Now

- Students will be expected to recognize that Aboriginal peoples' relationship with place has changed over time.

Elaborations: • recognize that there are Aboriginal peoples • compare where Aboriginal peoples live today with where they lived in the past

- Students will be expected to demonstrate an understanding that the way people live in their community evolves over time.

Elaborations: • develop an understanding of time concepts • identify reasons for settlement and

development of the local community • identify and describe changes in their local community over time

Section Two: Project/Lesson Implementation

Equipment/Materials Required : Computer lab or a computer and a computer projector or both. www.rabbitandbearpaws.com/archives.html

Lesson Procedure s/Teaching Strategies:

  Aboriginal peoples have inhabited Atlantic Canada since time immemorial. The four traditional Aboriginal groups include the Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, Inuit, and Innu peoples. Each developed a distinct relationship with place including the land, water, resources, and climate. Help children develop an awareness of and an appreciation for Aboriginal communities in the Atlantic region. Students will learn that the relationship Aboriginal peoples have with place has changed over time.

It is important that the learning experiences avoid becoming a stereotypical study of early Aboriginal peoples. The goal is for students to realize that Aboriginal communities, like all communities, have evolved over time.

(From page 102 - You and Your World Curriculum Kindergarten - Grade 2 – New Brunswick Department of Education)

The teacher will bring the students to the computer lab or set up a computer projector (In-Focus machine - the projector set up in the lab with the students at their own computers works well).

The teacher will pre-read pages 1-2 at http://rabbitandbearpaws.com/index.php?p=2 to have an understanding of the time frame and characters in the rest of the story.

The students will read pages 3-8 at http://rabbitandbearpaws.com/index.php?p=3

The students will brainstorm all the things they see on page 2 of the story that reflect the aboriginal way of life in the past (eg, birch bark houses, called waginogans or wigwams - pointing out that different tribes used different kinds of housing; boiling sap, clothing, building materials).

The teacher will then discuss these topics:

  • homes
  • food – where did they get it?
  • dress
  • education – What did they learn?
  • jobs
  • medicine
  • transportation – how did they get around?

Students will then, u sing some of the following headings, discuss how life has changed from the traditional way of life for contemporary aboriginal people in Canada / USA :

  • homes
  • food
  • dress
  • education
  • jobs
  • medicine
  • transportation

Additional activity/Extension to story:

If possible (and your school has a kitchen), tap any birch or maple trees in the school area, collect ten or so liters of sap and have a “boiling day” with parent volunteers to boil the sap down to syrup. It is suggested that the sap be boiled down at least half before the boiling day. Birch sap does not tend to leave any residue behind on the walls.

This is a major project, but a lot of fun

Suggested Assessment Strategies:

•  Review that class understand some of the changes Aboriginal communities have changed over time.

•  Journal entries detailing what was learned

Section Three: Project/Lesson Resources

Web-Based Resources: http://rabbitandbearpaws.com/index.php?p=1;


Disclaimer: The recommended web-resources included here have been scrutinized for their grade and age appropriateness; however, contents on links on the Internet change continuously. It is advisable that teachers preview all links before recommending them to students.

Section Four: Additional Information

Modifications: Can use this to modify for grade 2

- Students will be expected to describe how people's interactions with the environment have changed over time;

Elaborations: • explain how and why physical environments change over time • give examples of how Aboriginal peoples interacted with the environment

• describe how people depended on their environment to survive and to build communities

Additional Comments: This can be a sensitive topic and proper language/names should be used at all times. Also, if you have one or two aboriginal student in the class, please do not single them out or use them as “experts”. But you may want to contact their parents to see if they or the grand parents would like to be a part of this lesson (when appropriate).

Credits: Special Thanks to Chad Solomon, creator of Rabbit and Bear Paws

Lesson by Scott Tingley

Any questions or comments, contact me at comicsintheclassroom @ gmail.com


Contents on links on the Internet change continuously. It is advisable that teachers and parents preview all links before recommending them to children.

The prior copyright notice was in error. The correct copyright notification is Comics in the Classroom, (C) Scott Tingley 2007 All rights reserved.

Comics in the Classroom and the Comics in the Classroom logo are trademarks TM of Scott Tingley 2007