Inuksuk Stone Statues

Inuksuk Stone Statues lesson plan

How do people communicate when the landscape is as barren and forbidding as Arctic tundra? Make a stone message board Inuit-style.

  • 1.

    What happens when two people get together? They talk. People like to share what they know. They talk about what is important to them. Communicating-by talking, writing notes, or using a cell phone, is easy today for most people. It was far more difficult on the sparse, snowy landscape of Northern Canada near the Arctic circle. To get messages to each other, the Inuit people began an ancient tradition in their homeland-they built Inuksuks.

  • 2.

    Stone statues were used as signposts to tell others about good fishing areas. Some statues helped people navigate across tundra. Others marked storage caches. The Inuksuk was traditionally made of stones that fit precisely together. Inuksuks are considered to be sacred and must never be destroyed. Many have been in place for a very long time. Their meanings are unique to their location and design. Find pictures of these stone statues in books or on the Internet.

  • 3.

    To create a stone-like material, mix white Crayola® Model Magic with aquarium gravel in a recycled foam produce tray. The graininess of the stone depends on how much gravel you add to the Model Magic.

  • 4.

    Flatten the Model Magic into slabs with the palm of your hand or a rolling pin. Cut the slab into several rock-like shapes with a plastic dinner knife. Dry overnight.

  • 5.

    Decide on the purpose and placement of your Inuksuk. Do you want it to announce that you passed this way? Are you making a memorial for a lost pet? Guiding friends to a special place? Or welcoming visitors into your room?

  • 6.

    Assemble your Inuksuk on a recycled foam produce tray. For example, pile the stones so that several point one direction. Or make a "window" of stones through which a viewer can look. Glue the stones in place with Crayola School Glue. Dry.

  • 7.

    See whether you and your classmates can figure out what message each other's stones show.

Standards

  • LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
  • LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
  • LA: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
  • LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
  • SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.
  • SS: Compare ways in which people from different cultures think about and deal with their physical environment and social conditions.
  • SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.
  • VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.
  • VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

Adaptations

  • Possible classroom resources include: The Inuksuk Book by Mary Wallace; The Gift Of The Inuksuk by Michael Ulmer; I Is for Inuksuk: An Arctic Celebration by Michael Ulmer
  • Students work in teams to research the Inuksuks of the Inuit people of Northern Canada. Organize research into an electronic format for classmates to view.
  • One of Canada's newest territories is Nunavut. Students research this territory, studying its flag of blue, gold, and red; this flag has an Inuksuk as its central motif. What do the colors and symbols mean to the Nunavut's inhabitants?
  • Students investigate other world cultures that built stone structures? When were they built? What were their meanings and uses?