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Inuksuk Stone Statues

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

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    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. Invite students to investigate the communication practices of the Inuit people. Organize a wide variety of text and electronic resources for students to view. When research is complete, bring the class together to discuss their learning.
    3. When the discussion has drawn to a close, students will create a stone-like material to illustrate their learning. Begin by having them mix white Crayola® Model Magic with aquarium gravel in a recycled foam produce tray. The graininess of the stone depends on how much gravel is added to the Model Magic.
    4. Students flatten the Model Magic into slabs with the palms of their hands or use a rolling pin. Cut the slab into several rock-like shapes with a plastic dinner knife. Dry overnight.
    5. Students decide on the purpose and placement of their Inuksuks. 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 Inuksuks on a recycled foam produce trays. 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. When all artwork is complete, organize a display in the classroom. Invite students to figure out what message is represented in each Inuksuk.
  • 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?


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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