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Biomes: Land Of The InuitBiomes-Land-Of-The-Inuit

  • Subject:
  • |
  • Grade(s): 6-8
  • |
  • Duration: Three class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will
  • compare present-day Inuit to their ancestors to discuss their relationship to their environment;
  • describe how Inuit art reflects this relationship; and
  • create a classroom art gallery.


  • Computer with Internet access
  • Large index cards (one per student)
  • Paper and pencil


  1. After watching the program, have students define "Inuit." The definition should answer these questions: Who are they? Where do they live? How long have they lived there? ( The Inuit are native peoples who have lived in the Canadian Arctic and Greenland for thousands of years. ) What is the name of their autonomous territory? ( Nunavut )

  2. Based on the program, have students compare modern-day Inuit to their ancestors. To help spark conversation, ask them to think about the Inuit homes, transportation, food, technology, tools, family relationships, and clothing. Have them create two-column lists, such as this one:

    Now Then
    Live in houses Lived in igloos
    Rely on hunting and fishing for some food Relied on hunting and fishing
    Ride snowmobiles and power boats Rode dog sleds and canoes
    Wear fur and leather clothes, but also wear modern clothes Wore clothes of fur and leather
    Use traditional tools and modern appliances Used tools made of animal bones and antlers
    Pass stories and knowledge down through generations Passed stories and knowledge down through generations
  3. Ask students to discuss what has changed for the Inuit. You may create a Venn diagram to illustrate the comparison.

  4. Hold a class discussion about the relationship between the Inuit and their environment. Why do they have a strong bond? ( The Inuit have depended on the land and its wildlife for food, shelter, and clothing, and they have strong spiritual ties to the environment. ) Why would the Inuit have needed to understand the natural patterns of Arctic wildlife? ( To hunt and fish ) How is global warming disrupting these patterns? ( Global warming has changed the sea ice, when plants bloom, and weather patterns. ) Why is this significant to the Inuit? ( Their livelihoods depend on normal Arctic patterns. )

  5. Explain that the Inuit relationship with the environment is evident in their artwork, including tools, clothes, toys, and spiritual objects, which they have been creating for thousands of years. The Inuit maintain their artistic traditions in paintings, prints, and sculpture, which reflect events, stories, and modern-day issues.

  6. Tell the students they will explore Inuit art. They will select one work of art from the list below that reflects a bond with the land and its wildlife. After students have chosen a work of art, they should print it out and complete an index card with the following information:

    Title of artwork:
    Artist's name:
    Description: (How does this piece reflect the Inuit relationship with the Arctic land or wildlife?)

    The Web sites below feature examples of Inuit art and culture. Students may need to read cultural information to explain the artwork.

    Animals in Inuit Art

    Inuit Prints Inspired by Legends

    More Inuit Art Web sites [NOTE: These sites have a wealth of images, but no background information on individual pieces.]

    Canadian Arctic Profiles: Indigenous Cultures
    Inuit: Our World, Our Way of Life [NOTE: Click on Inuit topics.]

    Inuit Life in Nunavik

  7. Have students hang their prints and labels around the classroom to create an art gallery. Allow students enough time to view the artwork and read the labels. Then ask them to describe the art in their own words. Do the pieces show any similarities? ( Answers will vary, but students might use these terms: flowing lines, lack of detail, playful, spiritual. )

  8. As a final step or as an extension, ask students to create drawings that reflect their own relationship with something in the environment.

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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points: Students contributed one ore more aspects of past or present Inuit culture; found an appropriate work of art that clearly reflects the Inuit relationship to the environment; created a complete label with all requested information; participated actively in class discussion.
  • Two points: Students contributed one aspect of past or present Inuit culture; found an appropriate work of art that adequately reflects the Inuit relationship to the environment; created a satisfactory label with most requested information; participated in class discussion.
  • One point: Students did not contribute one aspect of past or present Inuit culture; found a work of art that does not clearly reflect the Inuit relationship to the environment; created an incomplete label with little or no requested information; did not participate in class discussion.

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Definition: Region around the North Pole, including the Arctic Ocean and parts of North America, Asia, and Europe
Context: The Inuit have strong ties to their Arctic environment.

Definition: Native peoples who have lived in the Canadian Arctic and Greenland for thousands of years
Context: Inuit means "the people" in their language.

Definition: The self-governing territory of the Inuit, located in the Northwest Territories of Canada
Context: Nunavut became a self-governing territory in 1999.

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The National Science Education Standards provide guidelines for teaching science as well as a coherent vision of what it means to be scientifically literate for students in grades K-12. To view the standards, visit

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:

  • Science in Personal and Social Perspectives: Populations, resources, and environments

Social Studies
The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has developed national standards to provide guidelines for teaching social studies. To become a member of the NCSS, or to view the standards online, go to

This lesson plan addresses the following thematic standards:

  • Culture
  • Time, Continuity, and Change
  • People, Places, and Environments

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Joy Brewster, curriculum writer, editor, and consultant

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