Visual and Harmonious Balance: The Medicine Wheel

Students will be introduced to aspects of Native American culture to gain a better understanding of the significance of the medicine wheel.Students can then create their own medicine wheels. Students will apply mathematical concepts to develop their medicine wheels.Students will create artwork demonstrating balance.The Medicine Wheel has multiple meanings and interpretations. It is important to connect with community elders and culturalist in order to understand the specific beliefs of your region.

Materials Needed


Art Materials

Activity Process


Review the speaker's presentation about the significance of the medicine wheel. (Go over prior knowledge)

Explain how each of our lives can be illustrated through cycles -such as a medicine wheel. For example: our growth in stages from infant to elder, experiencing the seasons, learning a process or activity such as hunting or painting. Our lives apply to such cycles in many ways.

Show the students your personal wheel and discuss the significance of the items illustrated on it.


Go over the Ojibwe word list and the concept of the medicine wheel having 4 quadrants- all connected, but symbolizing different things.

Review use of the compass to make a circle as taught in a previous math lesson, as well as the terms Radius and circumference. After showing and talking about traditional versions of medicine wheels show contemporary versions of medicine wheels from various artists and community members to illustrate the fact that traditions move into contemporary realms, too.



Have individuals volunteer to explain their medicine wheels and the significance of the illustrations they have placed on it.


Each student will briefly explain verbally and in a written paragraph which items they chose to illustrate their wheels and why.

Vocabulary Words


The students really enjoyed doing this lesson. Some of them were frustrated doing the math but we took it slowly and worked together to complete the circles. Several students commented on how much they enjoyed doing it and that they actually learned some things about themselves in the process.

Grade Levels

Primary Content Area

American Indian Learner Outcomes

Content Standards


Language Arts



Social Studies