Tipi Sun Time

Subject: Language Arts

Grade: 2-4

Topic: Reading/Science

Content: After reading

Goals: Students will understand the diversity of “home” and “time” concepts.


Speaking and Listening Standard 1: Students demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the communication process.

Literature Standard 4: Students interact with print and non-print literary works from various cultures, ethnic groups, traditional and contemporary viewpoints written by both genders.

Science Standard 4: Students, through the inquiry process, demonstrate knowledge of the composition, structures, processes and interactions of Earth’s systems and other objects in space.

Science Standard 6: Students understand historical developments in science and technology.

Essential Understanding 1: There is great diversity among the 12 tribal Nations of Montana in their languages, cultures, histories and governments. Each Nation has a distinct and unique cultural heritage that contributes to modern Montana.

Essential Understanding 2: There is great diversity among individual American Indians as identity is developed, defined and redefined by entities, organizations and people. A continuum of Indian identity, unique to each individual, ranges from assimilated to traditional. There is no generic American Indian.

Essential Understanding 3: The ideologies of Native traditional beliefs and spirituality persist into modern day life as tribal cultures, traditions, and languages are still practiced by many American Indian people and are incorporated into how tribes govern and manage their affairs. Additionally, each tribe has its own oral histories, which are as valid as written histories. These histories pre-date the “discovery” of North America.

Essential Understanding 6: History is a story most often related through the subjective experience of the teller. With the inclusion of more and varied voices, histories are being rediscovered and revised. History told from an Indian perspective frequently conflicts with the stories mainstream historians tell.

Objectives: After completing this lesson students will have learned the Apsáalooke concepts of time and seasons.

Materials: Tepee, Sun, and Time book downloadable from the Northwest Indian Reading series online. Lesson plan, sundial materials—12” by 12” piece of heavy card stock, Block of wood, Thumb tacks

Introduction: Tepee, Sun, and Time is a book explaining how the Apsáalooke were able to tell the time of day and seasons, long before the “tick tock of a metal clock.” A little information about tepee manners is included as well. Students and teachers will make predictions about what will happen in the book. After reading the book students will spend a day observing the movement of the sun from a central point. Teachers will make sundials with students. Teachers should discuss with students what changes occur in their community, yard, school playground that alert them to the changes of the seasons.

Development: Students will learn about the changes in time, season, and the diversity of life around them.

Practice: Students will make predictions about the book’s content, and then read the book. Throughout the day students will look at the sun as it travels, either out a classroom window, or maybe at the school flagpole. In discussion students will communicate the changes they experience which tell them a seasonal change is coming. Later students will make sundials, and watch the changes evident as the day passes.

Checking for Understanding/Evaluation: Students will explain the process of the sun’s movement throughout the day and how they can see it with their sundial, as well as how Apsáalooke people see it in a tepee.

Closure: Students will explain how the Apsáalooke can tell time using their tepees. They will explain how this changes as the seasons progress through the year.

Materials and Directions for Sundial:

Directions: An old way to tell the time was to use the sun and the shadows it cast. You can make a sundial to put in your backyard that will tell you what time it is. First, take the heavy card stock and fold it corner to corner, then cut the card in half. Fold a flap on the bottom of the card to tack into the piece of wood. Attach the card to the wooden block, making sure the triangle is straight up and down. Place the sundial on a flat surface in the sun. Every hour, mark off where the shadow is cast. You might even want to paint a nature design on the wood block. Remember to keep the sundial facing to the north.