Great North (6-8)

6, 7, 8

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.

Focus Questions: How does climate affect the lifestyle of animals and humans? How do humans adapt to their environment? How should humans show respect to nature?

Lesson Rating 
PrintBefore Viewing the Movie: One 60 minute class period or two 30 minute class periods. After Viewing the Movie: Two to three 50 to 60 minute class periods

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.


  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:

    Spend time discussing the movie with students. Have them share any information that they think they learned about the Inuit and the Saami people. Be sure to discuss the attachment from the Preview lesson, “Things to Look and Listen for While Viewing the Movie”. Put these ideas on chart paper and post in the room for further use. Tell them that they are going to discover more about each culture and present it to the rest of the class through a brief presentation and visual display.

  9. The teacher may choose to allow students to work together or independently to create a presentation and poster about the Inuit or Saami

  10. Students spend one class period researching the Inuit and Saami people. They may use any resources that the teacher has provided including the Internet. This lesson may be expanded at the teacher’s discretion

  11. Instruct students that they need to narrow their facts to no more that ten characteristics per culture.

  12. Be sure to instruct them to include elements from the film, the importance of the Caribou and Reindeer herds to each culture, and how the people interact with the natural environment. Guide them in discovering that these cultures, as well as humans everywhere, interact with their environment and adapt to the environment or adapt the environment to meet their needs. The use of helicopters for herding is an example. Include the climate in the regions that each inhabits. Be sure to include how the many community members participate in the herding of the Caribou and Reindeer. These animals are a common resource for both cultures. Point out that they try to be good stewards of their environment. Define stewardship as a trust of common resources held by a community for citizens.

  13. The Inuit have become defenders of their environment. As a result, the Inuit and Saami 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.

  14. Go over the list found in Attachment One “Things to Watch for While Viewing the Movie”. Students should be able to identify those things that are a Human/Environment Interaction and discuss why they think so. (Building the corral for the herd. Use of helicopters for herding, traveling around on snowmobiles instead of sleds.)

  15. Students will produce a poster demonstrating their understanding of the cultural characteristics and how they have interacted with their environment.

  16. Students will reflect on this project and the movie in writing in their journals. If the teacher doesn’t use journals, this could be a stand alone writing piece.


The teacher will evaluate the presentation and poster.

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 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Define <i>stewardship</i> as a trust of common resources held by a community for citizens.
      2. Benchmark MS.7 Give examples of common resources in the community.