Word sort activity using English words derived from Indigenous languages of North and South America. Keywords: Native American English words, English words borrowed from Indigenous Languages, First People, Indian languages, Substitute plan, Sub plans, Emergency Substitute Plans, etymology
The object of this activity is to sort English words into categories such as food/plants, people, man-made objects, animals, etc. The words are derived from Native American languages (e.g. Abenaki, Tupi, Taino, Guarani, Narragansett, Algonquian, Ojibwa, Aymara, Quechua, Nahuatl).
This activity could also be used at any time during the year in an English/Language Arts classroom to develop English vocabulary (because all the words are also used in English), a Social Studies/History unit on Native Americans, Indigenous Populations or First People. You could use this activity around Thanksgiving time to highlight how Native Americans languages have contributed so many words to English. This activity could easily be used as substitute plans.
The words vary from easy and basic (squash, raccoon, moccasin) to more challenging (cacique, hogan, abalone, quahog) so you could easily adjust word lists for differentiation among different leveled groups in your classroom by removing more obscure words.
Students can build on their background knowledge by recognizing words they already know, while adding to their vocabulary and learning that all these words are derived from Native American languages. Many of these words are Spanish as well, so Spanish-speaking ELLs will not feel left out!
First have students fill out the self-assessment. Then for the vocabulary sorts, make enough copies for the number of groups you want or make one copy per student to paste into their vocabulary notebook. Students could also copy their sorts into their notebooks to get writing practice instead of gluing. Use all words at once, or break it up into several lessons!
Basically students will sort the vocabulary words into “header” categories. They don’t have to know an exact definition, but may have a general idea to help them guess. Ideally students will work together in small groups and have access to dictionaries if you would like.
Finally, you can revisit the self-assessments and have students adjust definitions and reflection new words they have learned.
Sample answers are provided, but answers will definitely vary!
15 Pages include:
- 1 page of headers
- 2 pages of words to sort (80 words total),
- 1 page of answer key
- 6 pages of actual dictionary definitions for each word,
- 3 pages of a self-assessment for students to use so you can assess their background knowledge before the activity
- 1 skeleton lesson plan outline for a substitute
- 1 how-to page
Cover page and credits/thank-you not included in page count.