Posted by: jwhiff | January 14, 2017

People of the Northwest Coast: The Game!

I don’t quite have everything pulled together, but I’m willing to share what I have anyway.

Right now, the kids and I are working on pulling together information to make trivia cards and characters for each child.  We are using three sources:

A Journey into Time Immemorial…You’ll need flash to view this one.  It is completely worth it!  The kids will be immersed in a virtual reality Sto:lo village.

American Museum of Natural History: Hall of the Northwest Coast…another fantastic website with the museum’s huge collection documented and displayed for viewers.

Our social studies textbook: Our Beginnings (Grade 4)

The students are working in teams of 4 to build trivia decks.  Each students is responsible for reading a certain amount of content per day and writing interesting, fair questions (and answers) on his/her own.  Next, they bring their questions to the larger group to check for any overlap and to assess them for fairness and challenge level.  After the group gives the ok, questions are written out on tag.
img_0286They are also creating characters.  Each child researched clothing, adornment and tools.  I took photos of each child (head shots) and printed them out (black and white).  The students cut out the heads and created a new body, applying their research.  They love this!

I have broken the class into three large groups.  The students played “rock, paper, scissors” within each group to select a team member who chooses a name/crest for their team (I put names of Northwest Coast mythological characters into a basket and took the kids out to our classroom in the forest for the choosing ceremony).  Now the kids have characters and a team crest (which are posted together on a bulletin board assigned to them).  We need to get playing the game!

How is it played?  Everyday, students are partnered with someone from their team (this rotates to give everyone a chance/break).  Partners face off with partners from other teams.  As I have 28 students in my class, I end up needing games supplies for 7 groups.

Game supplies!  For each team, you will need:

  • a bin
  • a deck of trivia cards (student created) with roll-the-dice-cards mixed in (printed onto tag matching the trivia cards)
  • a set of game instructions (to be printed and placed in each bin) northwest-coast-game-pdf or northwest-coast-game-with-trespass-cards
  • a pair of dice (for “Roll the Dice, Learn your Fate” cards)
  • a bunch of beads for “health points” (health points are essentially the currency of the game…you get them for correctly answering questions)
  • a small bag (for drawing out Potlatch gifts)
  • a set of resource-cards-pdf (photocopied onto regular paper and cut out)
  • a set of Potlatch gift cards (coming soon)

This looks like a lot, but the supplies are not hard to gather.  Make sure the bins nest and are large enough to accommodate the instructions without folding.

Each team also needs a bin to collect the earnings of each partnership.

The object of the game?  At this stage, groups need to manage and control the wealth of the rivers, ocean and land.  I have posted a map of the Northwest Coast on one bulletin board to keep track of resources that each team manages.  They must also share their wealth at potlatches in order to publicly demonstrate their worthiness to control the resource areas they claim for their house team.

Once each team establishes itself, I will be changing the game by adding encounters with European (and American and, eventually Canadian) fur traders, explorers and fortune-seekers.  Each team will also have to eventually face disease, the Indian Act, and residential schools.  These parts of the game will involve a lot of critical thinking and emotion, too.  It will not be easy for the kids to face these negative historical realities.

I will post soon to give you more supplies and ideas.  I always tweak games as I go.



  1. Hello! I just wanted to write to tell you thank you so much for sharing this game. I teach Washington State History to a group of 6 homeschoolers and this game is a perfect way to engage them and simultaneously help them learn about Coastal society and culture. I learned a lot, too. I really appreciate all the work you put into creating the game as well as the pictures and cards. Best wishes, Julie in Wenatchee, WA

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