Ojibwe Games and Toys

Students will be introduced to the importance of Native American games and toys and their significance in Ojibwe culture and daily life.

Materials Needed


Art Materials

Activity Process


Create a whole class chart by surveying students on specific games they have played and which are their favorites.


We had some games of chance and skill for students to play that had a history of American Indian traditions. For example:- The Cherokee bean game: which requires 5 lima beans marked with difference dot sequence and consist of rolling them like dice and adding up points.- Pickup sticks- The snake game: which is a four stick game based on the chance of where they fall- Dakota wild plum stone dice game- Shell dice game- The deer toe bone game- The shuttlecock game made of corn husks and feathers- Plus various dolls and miniatures


  1. Discuss with class the different types of games. Introduce examples of ball and team sports, bowl games, games of chance, games of skill, and awareness games.
  2. Read the story: How the Two Brothers Followed the Hoop, from Native Games and Stories by James and Joseph Bruchac. Discuss key aspects of the story. Using materials provided, students will create their own ring and pin game. A brief discussion will occur in regards to commercial materials versus traditional materials. Students will be given time to experiment playing the game. Please see pgs. 59-67 of listed text for procedures for making the game, rules, and extensions.
  3. We traveled to the Northwest Fur Trading Post in northern MN. Because we felt students should get a brief overview of Native American life during the fur trading era, and how trade affected gaming and toys. Students talked about the variety of nature and man-made materials used to make toys and games, and the ways these changed with trade and colonization. As well as how gaming has changed through time.


Close the lesson by discussing what the students learned and what their favorite part was, and then have a game day in class.


Students will write and illustrate at least one thing they learned and explain their favorite activity.Games are also a great way to teach and review math concepts of number sense, addition and subtraction, as well as more sophisticated concepts of chance and probability.

Vocabulary Words


Students thoroughly enjoyed this lesson activity. They were engaged and found success in making and playing their games.

Grade Levels

Primary Content Area

American Indian Learner Outcomes

Content Standards


Language Arts



Social Studies