Grade Eleven Thematic Unit: Lessons 1-4

Lesson One


  1. 1. Provide students with a basic background of the two ceremonies they will be learning about: the Fast and the Sweat Lodge. Read through the background information provided at the beginning of this mini-unit/lesson plan for Operation Water Spirit Grade 11. (10 Minutes).
  2.  Encourage the students to provide insight into why a person would consider fasting or entering into a Sweat Lodge. Have students brainstorm questions they would like answered regarding these ceremonies. (10 Minutes). Write these questions on chart paper for use in a later lesson. Possible questions may be:
    • I. Where does one go for these ceremonies?
    • II. How does one find a person to help them?
    • III. Are there differences in male and female roles/participation in these ceremonies?
  3. Provide students with an opportunity to form groups to discuss how they would feel or react if someone tried to govern or tell them what religion they were required to practice. Moreover, how would they react to being told how to live and behave? Have them imagine that it was not their parents trying to control their lives but rather the government, which has the power to outlaw things that you may strongly believe in and make it a punishable offence to practice it. Provide students with a scenario and ask that they discuss it in their groups Have students come up with scenarios in which they would not like to be told what to do. (20 Minutes).
  4. Have students come back from their groups and discuss as a class how it would feel to have your life dictated. Have groups share the scenarios that they came up with in which they would not like to be told what to do. (5-10 Minutes).

Lesson Two


  1. Provide students with the information sheets on Fasting and Sweat Lodge (pages 7- 13 of this unit). Read through the information sheet as a class. (15 Minutes).
  2. Ask students to copy down either the full notes or jot notes on the information that has been provided. (15 Minutes). Ask the students to go through the questions that they listed on the chart paper (Lesson One) the previous day and see whether they were able to find the answers to their questions. If they are able to find the answers to the questions in the handouts, have them write these answers in their notebooks next to their jot notes. (10 Minutes).
  3. Provide students with the opportunity to discuss with each other (in groups of three or four) the ceremonies that they have just read about. Ask them whether anything that they had learned is new and whether there is anything that they can relate to in the readings in terms of past events in their own lives. (15 Minutes).
    • I. Are there certain rights of passage that they went through as they have come closer to becoming an adult?
    • II. Why do they think it is important or not important that a culture continue even with modern adaptations?

Lesson Three


  1. Divide the students into two groups: have one group look for literary information or speak with an Elder about Sweat Lodge ceremonies and the other find information on Fasting. Ask the students to cite their literary sources and to write notes. (30 Minutes)
  2. Ensure that the students have a clear idea of what they are doing and that they write notes and perhaps photocopay pages that talk about these ceremonies. This will provide students with an opportunity to view these ceremonies from different perspectives and tribal affiliations. They may also want to look at archeological and anthropological perspectives (David Mandelbaum is considered an authority in this area).
  3. Students will then present their sources and jot notes to the class. (15 Minutes).

Lesson Four

Directions/Procedures: 1. Students will be assigned a “reaction and reflection” paper on their thoughts and perspectives on the Sweat Lodge and Fasting ceremonies. This assignment will give students an opportunity to combine both the research they have done and the information they have learned from information sheets provided. This is an individual-work assignment that will allow the students to reflect on the importance of water within First Nations culture. (20 Minutes). 2. Students will break out into small groups to read and discuss their reflections and interpretations. (15 Minutes). 3. One student from each group will present a brief summary of what they discussed in their groups. (10 Minutes).

Evaluation: Group and peer evaluation rubrics, and individual and group assignments. Rubrics that you can further develop to fit this task are available at the end of most Operation Water Spirit units.


Name _______________ Date ________________

Operation Water Spirit Lesson: Fasting and Sweat Lodge Ceremony.

Research (4 worksheets per student/groups of two)

Find information regarding Fasts or Sweat Lodge Ceremonies; be sure to include the reference for the literary source or the name of the Elder and a brief description. Jot down notes on the subject. You are to use at least three sources of information. For example, you could talk to an Elder and find two literary sources.









Name _______________ Date ________________

Operation Water Spirit Lesson: Fasts and Sweat Lodge Ceremonies

Reaction and Reflection

Questions you may consider: How is water used within these ceremonies? Who has the right to conduct these ceremonies? What are your personal thoughts regarding these ceremonies?