I have started to formulate a lesson plan based on exploring traditional trade routes of the Yup’ik people. I would like to build a fun activity where the kids have a chance to think and plan a route to reach another region of Alaska and/or beyond.
After a short free write to brainstorm ideas, they will meet in small groups to discuss and decide where they want to trade, how they will transport their goods, and by what route they will use to reach their goal.
They will be provided various maps and links to help make their decisions and do further research on the materials needed to make the journey possible. There is a possibility that the activity can be developed into a board game of sorts, but the idea will need more time in the incubator to make into something more tangible.
As a final product for the lesson, I would have the students write about the differences and/or similarities of present day West Coast Alaska to the realities that the Yup’ik and early European settlers faced when seeking to trade goods. Besides looking at the past I would ask how those trade routes have been incorporated into the modern world and what unique logistics go into living on the West Coast of Alaska.
In their small groups, they will create a google map highlighting their route with points of interest to go into further detail and share their knowledge of the people and places they encounter along the way to their goal.
I have been fascinated with the vast network of trade routes that existed before contact with Europeans and hope to stimulate the students interest and get them thinking about the amount of activity that existed before the arrival of Europeans. For example, the mounds found in the Midwest of continental states contained artifacts from the entire breadth of North America before it was a continent to be “discovered”. By developing a greater understanding of trade routes that existed for thousands of years, We can begin to erode the myth that the “New World” was an empty land devoid of civilization.
The duration of activity could take any where from 1-2 or 2-3 days depending on how far and elaborate the board game aspect becomes. I am targeting a middle school aged class with room for variation. Let’s say 7th and 8th graders. The lesson will incorporate some geography, history and writing/communication skills.
At this point, I don’t know what is too much take on and how much class time will be needed. The lesson is in a rough- rough draft form at this point, but that’s alright. It is going to get somewhere in some form with a little help from my team.