Great North (3-5)

3, 4, 5

Introduce learners to the region of the world known as  "The Great North," which includes the Arctic Circle, North Pole and Northern Europe. They learn how the native inhabitants demonstrate stewardship of the Earth's resources through their daily living. They view an "IMAX" movie about the region.

Lesson Rating 
PrintBefore Viewing the Movie: One 60 minute class period or two 30 minute class periods After Viewing the Movie: One 45 – 60 minute lesson

The learner will:

  • locate the Arctic Circle, The North Pole, and Northern Europe.
  • name the countries within the arctic circle.
  • draw and label a free hand drawing to the countries where the Inuit and Saami people live.

NOTE:A copy of the movie  Great Northmay be purchased from

Teacher Preparation 

 There are a few scenes in the movie that may be disturbing to some students. A graphic birth of a caribou is shown, as well as reindeer that are shedding the felt from their antlers. This does show some blood on the animals.



  1. Before Viewing the Movie

    Anticipatory Set:

    Show the students the cover of Jan Brett's book, The Wild Christmas Reindeer. (See Biographical Reference) Ask them if they believe reindeer are real animals. Show them the cover of the book. Then read the story to the class. After reading, ask the students if they have heard the names Inuit and/or Saami? Some students might say they have heard the word Eskimo. Tell them that the word Eskimo is what the Inuit people used to be called. It means "eaters of raw meat" and was used by the Algonquin Indians of eastern Canada for their hardy neighbors who wore animal-skin clothing and were adept hunters. The name became commonly used by European explorers. Inuit, which means the "real people” is the preferred term used by the native people within the Arctic Circle in Northern Canada, Greenland and Northern Siberia.

  2. Refer back to the pictures of the book pointing out the way the Teeka is dressed and the look of the land where she lives. Tell them that they will be seeing a movie about some of the cultural traditions of these people and their relationships with the animals and land of their region. This area is usually described as the portion of the Earth that is above the Arctic Circle (Latitude 66 ° ; 33´ North )

  3. After a short discussion show the students on a map and globe where the Inuit and the Saami live. Point out that they live above the Arctic Circle. Show the students the arctic circle. (If necessary explain lines of longitude and latitude, and their purpose and notation.) Ask student whether the map or globe gives them a better idea of the arctic area. Why?

  4. Have the students use the Atlases to locate the countries that are within the Arctic Circle where the Inuit and Saami people live. (Countries of Northern Europe, Greenland, Northern Russia, Northern Canada and Northern United States – Alaska.)

  5. After students have located these countries, use map pins to locate them on a world map displayed in the classroom.

  6. Show a map the Arctic circle from, Discuss the climate and what the land looks like in the Arctic Circle. (The Arctic is sometimes defined as the area where the average temperature for the warmest month of the year, July, is below 10°C (50°F). and as the area above the "treeline," farther north than trees can grow, where there is only tundra and the Arctic Ocean.) Ask the students to conjecture about some of the difficulties of living within the Arctic Circle for animals and people.

  7. Give each student a 9X18 sheet of white drawing paper. They will use the atlases to locate the countries' shapes and relative location. Each student will produce a map of the Arctic Circle by drawing a large circle in the center of the paper (labeled latitude 66° 33' North ) with a dot in the middle indicating the North Pole (labeled 90°North). Have students draw in the countries that have land within the Arctic Circle, properly labeling each country.

  8. After Viewing Great North:

    Anticipatory Set:

    Discuss parts of the movie that they enjoyed, have questions about or would like to know more about. Tell them that they are going to learn more about the migration of the caribou and reindeer herds and how these animals were once vital to the survival of the Inuit and Saami people. Guide the discussion toward a focus on stewardship of nature and the relationships the people have with these animals.

  9. Discuss the six annual periods in the caribou’s life cycle. (These are similar to the Reindeer life cycle.) These are the cycles that biologists use to define the caribou life cycle. Fawning (end of May – mid June), At the end of June it’s time to gather the herd together and brand the fawns.Post – fawning (end of July to mid – August), End of summer scattering (Mid-August to end of September), Rut (October – November) Wintering over (December – March); Spring migration (March to end of May). The traditional Inuit calendar does not feature holidays like Halloween or Valentine’s Day. Instead you will find dates relating to the above life cycle.

  10. For most of history, the Inuit have depended on animals for their survival. They have developed a deep respect for the natural world; their values and beliefs always reflect the close and fragile relationship between humans and the natural world.

  11. In the movie, the old one, Adamic, led the old bull out of the herding pen ahead of the rest of the herd. The bull then led the rest of the herd to their freedom. They are obligated to be good stewards of nature. Stewardship is the assumption of responsibility for the welfare of resources for the common good of the community.


Teacher checks students' maps for accuracy. Students write a paragraph responding to these questions: What do you think was meant by the remark “My father had reindeer that worked for us but I think we worked for the reindeer”? How does this relate to stewardship of nature? Remind students to support their answers using things they saw in the movie or prior knowledge.

Cross Curriculum 

Students may make posters, a movie, or blog posts about what it means to them to be stewards of the earth. The students may choose any animal, research its needs, and advocate for it. For example, they may let people know about the danger to bees and how we can act to save bees.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss why some animal colonies work together.
      2. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.1 Give examples of philanthropic traditions of diverse cultures.
      2. Benchmark E.3 Identify the similarities in philanthropic behavior among people of different cultural backgrounds.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Define stewardship and give examples.