Activity Bank - Live a sheltered life
Access to a forested area
Forty-five minutes to one hour, depending on proximity of forest.
Discuss with students the environments that the Northern Tutchone lived in. Highlight the fact that they lived on the land and had to rely on its resources for building shelters.
Tell students that they are going to build a shelter that is similar to the ones native people may have used. Depending on size of class and/or forest, students may have an easier time if they work in small groups of five or six. Explain to students that they need to construct a frame using larger wooden branches or 'poles,' set up in a conical fashion. Students may wish to use a living tree as the main support, with it acting as either the centre pole, or if the tree has a fork in its lower limbs, place a branch in the crook and have it rest there, slanting to the ground. Once students have established the framework for the shelter, have them collect fallen branches, boughs, leaves and other brush materials to completely enclose the shelter. Students will know they have finished when they enter the structure and feel enclosed enough to call it home.
The teacher may wish to supervise the students over lunch hour to allow the students a chance to enjoy the fruit of their labours. The teacher may also wish to record the accomplishments on film.
Remind students that they should not be cutting down trees or ripping apart branches for this activity but use debris found on the ground. It is important to respect the fact that the plants are living, especially when the shelters will not be used for more than the day. When you are finished in the forest, the teacher should ask students to dismantle their shelters leave the materials as they found them so the natural processes of decomposition can resume.