Grade Seven Thematic Unit: Unit Scope and Introduction

Unit Scope and Sequence

Introduction to Grade Seven Operation Water Spirit Thematic Unit

  • Focus Questions

  • Introduction

  • Subject Area(s)

  • Students Learning outcomes

  • Student Assessment

  • Prerequisite Skills

  • Accommodation Options

  • Supplies/Materials needed

  • Optional Unit Extensions

  • Materials and Resources Required for Unit

Part One: First Nation Creation Stories

  • Language Arts or Creative Writing: First Nation Creation Stories

  • Operation Water Spirit: Creation Story Worksheet

Part Two: Medicine Wheel Teachings

  • Social Studies: Medicine Wheel Teachings

  • Reading/Language Arts/Creative Writing: Turtle Island

  • Information Handout: Medicine Wheels

  • Information Handout: Historical and Contemporary Medicine Wheels

    • Operation Water Spirit: Medicine Wheels Worksheet

  • Visual Art: Medicine Wheel

  • Craft 1: Yarn Wrapped Medicine Wheel

  • Craft 2: Rock Formation Medicine Wheel

  • Craft 3: Medicine Wheel Craft

  • Health: The Medicine Wheel and Balancing the Four Parts of Self

  • Information Handout: Health and the Medicine Wheel

    • Operation Water Spirit: Medicine Wheel Health Worksheet

  • Science: Archaeological findings regarding Medicine Wheels

  • Information Handout: Medicine Wheel from Archaeological Perspective

  • Information Handout: Examples of Medicine Wheels

  • Operation Water Spirit: Locating Medicine Wheels Worksheet

  • Operation Water Spirit: Medicine Wheels Internet Worksheet

  • EXAMPLE: Operation Water Spirit: Medicine Wheel Internet Worksheet

  • Information Handout: Big Horn Medicine Wheel and Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel

Part Three: Four Sacred Elements: Earth, Fire, Water, Wind

  • Science: Four Elements from a Western Science Perspective

  • Information Handout #1: Definition of Four Elements from a Western Science Perspective

  • Information Handout #2: Definition of Four Elements from a Western Science Perspective

  • Information Handout #3: Definition of Four Elements from a Western Science Perspective

  • Information Handout #4: Definition of Four Elements from a Western Science Perspective

  • Information Handout #5: Definition of Four Elements from a Western Science Perspective

  • Information Handout: Let’s work together to save our Water, Fire, Earth and Air!

  • Information Handout: Lakota Four Elements of Life

  • Language Arts: Four Elements Creative Writing

    • Operation Water Spirit: Four Sacred Elements Worksheet

  • Creative Arts: Drama: Imagination and the Four Elements

  • Creative Arts: Drama Teachers’ Notes

Part Four: Respecting Water and Water Conservation

  • Science: Importance of Water to Life

  • Operation Water Spirit: Importance of Water to Life Worksheet #1

  • Operation Water Spirit: Importance of Water to Life Worksheet #2

  • Operation Water Spirit: Importance of Water to Life Worksheet #3

  • Health: Our life begins in water and we need water to survive

  • Social Studies: First Nation Water Issues

Part Five: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Traditional Knowledge Regarding Water

  • Science: TEK/TK

  • Information Handout: Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Ecological Knowledge

  • Information Handout #2: Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Ecological Knowledge

  • Operation Water Spirit: Traditional Knowledge Group Worksheet

Part Six: Evaluations

  • Operation Water Spirit Group Evaluation

  • Operation Water Spirit Individual Project Rubric

Medicine Wheel #1 Stencil

Focus Questions

  • Many First Nation Creation stories begin in water, how does this differ from other cultures?

  • How is water an important component within First Nation Culture and practices?

  • Why are First Nations concerned about current water issues?

Introduction: The purpose of this unit is to provide students with an opportunity to learn about water and how it is viewed from an Aboriginal perspective. Water is one of the four sacred elements; the other three are Earth, Wind, and Fire. Water is extremely important as all forms of life are unable to exist without water. The Grade Seven: Operation Water Spirit Unit aims to serve as a tool for students in their discovery of the importance of water, as well as its surroundings around and within us. The goal is to achieve this through students’ exploration of the water within their own communities as well as in Aboriginal communities, comparing and contrasting the differences and similarities through a holistic, student-centered approach.

The Grade Seven Thematic Unit Plan has been designed to easily fit into the grade seven science, social studies, physical education and visual arts curricula. As well, this unit can be adapted to other grade levels.

When teaching this unit, keep in mind that one concept cannot be taught without other concepts being introduced. This unit provides some lessons that can be expanded upon to provide more information. As well, take a look at other Operation Water Spirit Units which may be adapted to fit within this unit.

Subject Area(s): Language Arts, Visual Arts, Drama, Social Studies, Health, Creative Writing, Science

Students Learning Outcomes:

  • Read, retell and interpret various First Nation Creation stories and be made aware that there is more than the Bering Strait Theory about origins.

  • Be made aware of non-linear thinking patterns and view the world in a holistic experiential way through Medicine Wheel teachings.

  • Will view and research historical Medicine Wheels from an archaeological perspective.

  • Will be able to construct a variety of Medicine Wheel crafts.

  • Compare and contrast their personal view of health and wellness with the teachings of the Medicine Wheel.

  • Be able to reflect upon the four sacred elements: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water and the role these elements play within their life.

  • Author creative writing pieces about an interaction with one of the four sacred elements.

  • Be able to read and reflect upon definitions of the four sacred elements from a western science perspective and compare and contrast this view with Aboriginal (Lakota) perspectives.

  • Be able to portray one of the elements through the creative arts and drama.

  • Be able to research and reflect upon the use of water in First Nation ceremonies and practices and then present upon this topic.

  • Experiment with bean plants and view how water affects their survival and growth.

  • Reflect upon the statement “our life begins in water and we need water to survive, water is in us and all around us...” and present that theme in a poster or drama format.

Student Assessment: Student assessment will be done by participation and through rubrics. The rubrics are located here.

Prerequisite Skills:

  • Beginning computer skills in Word, Excel, Publisher (entering text), and accessing the Internet

  • Cooperative group work experience

Accommodation Options

  • Learning Assistant Students

    • If you have children in your class that require learning assistants or are in pull out programs, we recommend these students work within the classroom with the rest of the students. In order to do this, it is beneficial for the student to have their own, or a shared, learning assistant. By including these students, you are developing an inclusive classroom. Avoid having the students who are categorized as “Special” taught separately in these units because this is not only detrimental to their development, but disadvantageous to all of your students’ development (Beauchamp et al., 2000:81).

    • Homogenous grouping is recommended for group work and research.


  • Highly-Capable Students

    • Provide students with the opportunity to study at their own level and speed, allowing gifted students to stay in the classroom with fellow classmates but also providing them with challenge in their daily work (Beauchamp et al., 2000:86).

    • Since studies have shown that the greatest academic gains have been made when gifted students work together, provide the gifted students in your classroom with the opportunity to work together when conducting research and group discussions (Beauchamp et al., 2000:86).


  • Provide all students with an opportunity to gain extra marks for creativity. Gain extra marks for creative writing assignments and drama productions.

  • Give the students a bulletin board to develop and update throughout the thematic unit.

  • Provide additional readings about information within this project.

  • Provide Internet sites to learn and read more about these issues.

Supplies/ Materials needed:

  • Access to Internet, use of computer

  • Materials needed as stated with each individual lesson plan

  • Student rubrics and evaluation sheets

  • Photocopied lesson worksheets and readings

  • Access to library

Optional Unit Extensions:

  • Partner with a school in a different territory, if you are in the city find a school in a First Nation community or vice-versa. Undergo this unit simultaneously, e-mail updates to the partnered school.

  • Research First Nations people who have had something to say regarding water issues: James Bay Cree, etc.

  • Author and develop a play regarding the Four Elements and issues around them in modern and historical times.

  • Arrange to attend a First Nation ceremony that has water in it: Sweat Lodge, Fasting, Feasts. Meet with local First Nation/Métis/Aboriginal Elders to arrange for a cultural day in the country.

  • View the SDWF DVDs on the water crisis as it relates to First Nation communities

  • Invite in a speaker/activist on First Nation and Aboriginal water issues.

Materials and Resources Required for Unit

Teacher Resources: Saskatchewan Curriculum:

Saskatchewan Curriculum Education: The future within us. Retrieved from

Saskatchewan Education, Training and Employment. (1994). Language Arts for Indian and Métis students: Adapting the elementary level curriculum. Regina, SK: Author.

Aboriginal Education Unit. (2002). Historical Aboriginal Relationships Shaping North America. Saskatchewan Learning.

Hirschfelder, A. B., Molin, P. F., & Wakim, Y. (1999). American Indian Stereotypes in the World of Children: A reader and Bibliography (2nd ed.). Lanham, Md: Scarecrow.

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. (2006). The Learning Circle; Classroom Activities on First Nations in Canada: Ages 12-14. Ottawa: Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada. Retrieved from 1065/pdf/e_guide3.pdf

Office of the Treaty Commissioner. (2008). We are all Treaty People. Saskatchewan, Canada. Retrieved from:

Student Resources:

Bouchard, D., & Vickers, R. H. (1997). The Elders are Watching (3rd ed.). Vancouver: Raincoast Books.

Caduto, M. J., Bruchac, J., Ka-Hon-Hes, & Wood, C. (1997). Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children (1st Fulcrum trade paperback ed.). Golden, Colo: Fulcrum Publ.

Condon, P. (2001). Changes: the Turtle's Teachings. (2001). [cassette/compact disc]. Saskatoon, SK: Gabriel Dumont Institute.

De Coteau Orie, S., & Canyon, C. (1996). Did You Hear Wind Sing Your Name? : An Oneida Song of Spring. New York: Walker.

Goble, P. (1996). Remaking the Earth: A Creation Story from the Great Plains of North America. New York: Orchard Books.

Ridout, S. B., Funk, J., & Saskatoon District Tribal Council (Eds.). (1991). "--And They Told Us Their Stories": A Book of Indian Stories. Saskatoon: Saskatoon District Tribal Council.

Taylor, C.J. (1994). Bones in the Basket: Native Stories of the Origin of People. Montreal: Tundra Books.

Waboose, J. B., & Taylor, C. J. (1999). Firedancers. Toronto: Stoddart Kids.

Supplemental Resources (Internet Resources):

Library and Archives Canada. (2005). Haida. Retrieved from

Library and Archives Canada. (2005). Mi’kmaq. Retrieved from

Muskrat’s Den BBS. (2004). How Muskrat Created the World. Retrieved from

Library and Archives Canada. (2005). Wendat (Huron). Retrieved from

Welker, G. (2004). Apache Creation Story. Retrieved from

Welker, G. (1996). Gabrielinos Origin Tale. Retrieved from

Jenks, K. (1999). Sacred Creation Narratives from North America. Retrieved from

Yanko, D. (2008). Endangered Stones. Retrieved from

Whiskeyjack, F. The Medicine Wheel. Retrieved from

Donald, D. (2003). Elder, Student, Teacher: A Kainai Curriculum Métissage. Retrieved from