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PHragmites  and the ancient puebloans

Grade Level:  6-8

Time Frame:  1-2 class periods


In this lesson, students will learn about the Ancient Puebloans, also known as the Anasazi, and explore some aspects of their civilization.  Students will gain a sense of what daily life would have been like for a youngster within this community through a guided imagery experience featuring a day in the life of a teenage Puebloan with pictures and background music.  Students should also look out for examples of the usage of Phragmites  throughout the Anasazi culture as the young woman tells her story.

Image source:,_mesa_verde_national_park,_colorado.jpg

NJ-New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards

STANDARD 6.1 (Social Studies Skills) All students will utilize historical thinking, problem solving, and research skills to maximize their understanding of civics, history, geography, and economics.

·          Analyze data in order to see persons and events in context.

·          Examine current issues, events, or themes and relate them to past events.

STANDARD 6.3 (World History) All students will demonstrate knowledge of world history in order to understand life and events in the past and how they relate to the present and the future

The Birth of Civilization to 1000 BCE

·          Describe the physical and cultural changes that shaped the earliest human communities as revealed through scientific methods, including:

o         Migration and adaptation to new environments

o         Locations of agricultural settlements

·          Describe how environmental conditions impacted the development of different human communities (e.g., population centers, impact of the last Ice Age).

STANDARD 3.4 (Listening) All students will listen actively to information from a variety of sources in a variety of situations.

Active Listening

·          Listen actively for a variety of purposes such as enjoyment and obtaining information.

·          Listen attentively and critically to a variety of speakers.

·          Acknowledge the speaker through eye contact and use appropriate feedback and questions to clarify the speaker’s message.

·          Recognize and analyze persuasive techniques while listening.

·          Recognize the rich and varied language of literature (e.g., listen to a recording of poetry or classic literature).

·          Listen to determine a speaker’s purpose, attitude, and perspective.

Listening Comprehension

·          Demonstrate competence in active listening through responding to a story, interview, or oral report (e.g. summarizing, reacting, retelling).

·          Demonstrate competence in active listening by interpreting and applying received information to new situations and in solving problems.

·          Ask pertinent questions, take notes, and draw conclusions based on information presented.

·          Make inferences based on an oral report or presentation.  


Materials Required:


PowerPoint (to provide a "visual vocabulary" for the students to inform the subsequent visualization exercise) (ppt format) (pdf fomat)


Background information for teachers


Teacher's guide to the PowerPoint (ideas that should be emphasized as the PowerPoint is shared with the students).


Reading (guided visualization)


Music to play while reading story and while students work.  We suggest streaming music from  or


Rubric for evaluating student writing / art assignment




·         Appreciate the importance of artifacts in providing clues about the past

·        Imagine / visualize themselves in a new and different situation

·        Provide information about the Ancient Puebloans and and what their lives were like

·        Be able to discuss the uses of Phragmites in the Ancient Puebloans’ life

 Anticipatory Set:

Before Day 1 - Teacher will ask students if they were to leave something behind for someone who knew nothing about them to find years from now, what would it be? Teacher will ask students to bring in a safe object that would best represent them.

Explain to students:

The object that they choose to represent them should be something that shows who they are as a person, how they live, their culture, ethnicity or background, who they are (their personality), or what they do, such as an issue or topic that they are passionate about, a sport or hobby or something they like to do with their family.

*Note: Emphasize to students that they should only bring in something safe and not breakable or valuable. They should also make sure it's OK with their guardians to bring in the object before taking it. If they aren't able to bring it, tell the student to simply take a picture or explain it to the class.

Sequence Instruction

Day 1:

Anticipatory Set:

Teacher will ask students to show or describe the object that best represents them and briefly explain why.

Sequence Instruction:

1) Teacher will explain the importance of artifacts and how the artifacts that resulted when ancient people accidentally "left" objects behind can give us a lot of clues of their culture and lifestyle.

2) Teacher will offer students a description (supplied) about prehistoric people of Southwest America, the Anasazi, and how Phragmites australis was involved with their lives while presenting a PowerPoint presentation of images (supplied).   This is intended to provide the students with a visual vocabulary to help inform their imaginings during the subsequent visualization exercise.

3) Teacher will then read the guided imagery accompanied by music.  During the reading students should be asked to close their eyes and try to imagine themselves in that place at that time.  What do they see?  What do they hear?  What do they smell?  What do the sun and wind feel like on their skin? 

4) Students will reflect upon the experience they were given through the presentation.  They will then write an about what they experienced and thought and relate that to what they now know about Anasazi culture and life.  They may reflect about the experience, write their own story as a different character given pictures or artifacts, they may draw the people they imagined or the place they saw, or they may write a poem about the Ancient Puebloans or what it was like to be a member of this society.  They will hand in their responses by the end of the period for grading.    

If desired, teacher may direct the students’ writing by asking them questions such as:

bulletWhat happened in this story?
bulletWhat did you see?
bulletWhat did you hear?   
bulletWhat did you smell?  
bulletWhat did you feel?
bulletWhat did you learn from this about the life of the Anasazi?
bulletHow was the life of an Anasazi child similar or different to yours?



Ask students to share one thing from what they have writen or drawn that they feel best represents what they’ve learned about the Anasazi.



Teacher will read the students' writing material to assess their comprehension of and response to the materials presented.  If desired, teachers may wish to use or modify the rubric supplied to guide their assessment.  


Extending the Lesson / Homework Assignments

·        Quest for Anasazi:

·        Have students research one or more of the following (links to help with this are provided at the end of this lesson plan):

o       The reasons the Anasazi left their homes and communities

o       Comparison of the benefits and disadvantages of living in the Anasazi community of this time with their own experiences in 21st century America      

o       Any aspects of Anasazi life that students are interested in exploring that were not mentioned in the lesson plan provided


Accommodations and Modification:

·        Students who forget to bring in an object can just describe what they would leave behind.

·        Students with a hearing disability should be moved in close proximity of the teacher reading.  The music should also be lowered to hear the story clearer or eliminated completely.  (This may also be required for students with ADHD and similar conditions at the teachers’ discretion).

·        A written version of the reading may be supplied for students with disabilities.

·        If there are a number of students with behavioral or learning disabilities the teacher may choose to eliminate the music entirely or play it only during reflection.  The students may leave to read the imagery, or read along with the teacher to focus better on the story.  


Related Links:

Rock art gallery:


Good information and pictures to learn of the Anasazi:


Understanding the kiva:


Loads of information and lots to research


FAQ for Anasazi:


Gallery of pictures:




Map and timeline of Anasazi:


More Ideas for Extending the Lesson:

Archaeological shoebox

Interactive Computer Game – Become an Archaeologist

Findings of an archaeologist


TEACHER FEEDBACK REQUEST:  We are always to working to improve these lesson plans. If you use this lesson plan, we'd love to hear from you with your thoughts, comments and suggestions for future improvements.  Please take the time to fill in our survey at .  Thanks!

© 2009.  Amanda Traina (Author), Louise Wootton and Claire Gallagher (Editors)

 Although the information in this document has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement NE97262206  to Georgian Court   University, it has not gone through the Agency's publications review process and, therefore, may not necessarily reflect the views of the Agency and no official endorsement should be inferred.

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