Plenty on the Plains

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

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In this activity, learners compare the ways of life of Plains Native Americans who hunted and moved frequently to follow the buffalo herds, and Native Americans who farmed and lived in more permanent villages along the river valleys. As they learn about different ways of life, learners also explore the benefits of trading. Learners act out a trading scenario, in which they make and trade goods including wristbands and popcorn snacks. This activity is featured on pp.23-24 of the "One With the Earth: Native Americans and the Natural World" multidisciplinary unit of study for kindergarten through third grade.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • strips of brown construction paper with holes punched in the ends for wristbands
  • twine or another natural fiber
  • crayons
  • markers
  • two or three packages of beef jerky (dried 'buffalo' meat to be cut up and sampled at the end of the activity)
  • popped popcorn
  • dried fruits such as currants or raisins
  • pecan pieces or hulled sunflower seeds for a nut and berry mix
  • small plastic bags
  • large index cards


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Biodiversity
  • Mathematics
    • Algebra
    • Representation

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Financial Literacy
  • Food and Cooking
  • Historical Reenactment
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities

Culture, ethnicity, and gender

  • Native American

    • Acknowledges this group's contributions to STEM
    • Uses inclusive images of people from this group


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis,