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Regional Focus

  • Global

Indigenous Communities and the Environment (Green Spaces #3)

Date: Sep 30, 2021
Duration: 55 minutes
Grades: 3rd, 4th, 5th
Subjects: Social Studies, Civics, English Language Arts, Interdisciplinary, Justice, Social-Emotional Learning, Climate Action
Format: Google Slides

This lesson connects Indigenous communities with the natural environment. 

Step 1 - Inquire: Teacher reviews ecosystem services and introduces the four types of ecosystem services: giving services, checking services, supporting services, and cultural services.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students read two articles on Newsela about Indigenous Peoples. One is about government policy, and the other is about climate activism.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students share their notes from the articles and watch one final video on youth climate activists.

Accompanying Teaching Materials

15 minutes
  • Teacher reviews ecosystem services from previous lessons and introduces the four types of ecosystem services using the accompanying teacher slideshow.
  • Teacher follows the Inquire Slides Script during this part of the lesson.
20 minutes
20 minutes
  • There are two options in this section.
  • Option 1: Carousel - Students write on two posters that are hung up in the room. Each poster features a prompt based on one of the two articles.
    • Government Policy: What are the pros and cons of the protests listed in the article?
    • Indigenous Climate Activism: Why should the Brazilian government return Indigenous land?
  • Option 2: Writing Prompt - Students write a response to one of the following two prompts:
    • Government Policy: What are the pros and cons listed in the article?
    • Indigenous Climate Activism: Why should the Brazilian government return Indigenous land?
  • Finally, teacher shows How These Youth Climate Activists Are Changing the Future.
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson connects government policy to Indigenous activism.
  • Heterogeneous small groups allow for supported learning.
  • Excellent social studies and ELA integration.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This is lesson 3 of 6 in our 3rd-5th grade Green Spaces unit.
  • If you choose to have the students walking around and writing on posters in the Inspire section, you must have the posters up and ready before the lesson. Students could also write their thoughts on a chalkboard or whiteboard.
  • Prior knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and their resistance to colonialism is helpful.


  • Newsela offers different reading levels and read alouds for students of varying abilities.
  • Grouping students by ability may be helpful in the Investigate section if students are reading aloud to each other.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
      • 3-LS4-4 Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.


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