The Birchbark House Unit Study Resources

There are some book characters that you just fall in love with.  You can’t always explain why, but you know that their author had some special magic to bring this character to life.  Today, I’m going to share one of these book series with you.

For us, a big part of our homeschool year has been shaped by the stories of Louise Edrich.  Edrich is a popular Ojibwa author who writes for both adults and children.  This year, we’ve been reading her Birchbark House series, which is a series of four books (so far) that detail the everyday life of an Ojibwa family in the middle of the 1800s.

The four novels are:

As of today, we’re midway through the third of the four novels, and I wanted to stop and share some of the projects that have been inspired by the novels in our house.

I’m calling it a unit study, but really, we just wanted to bring some of the things from the novels to life.  This would, however, make a great history unit on the Ojibwa/Chippewa Indians.  (Also, the reason why I am making Ojibwa/Chippewa as one name is because both names refer to the same group of Indians.)

Birchbark House

One of the first things we did was to make our own puckered Ojibwa style moccasins.  Our moccasins were not tutorial worthy, but there’s a great series of You Tube Videos that will walk you through the steps of making authentic moccasins.

We also bought a box of wild rice and tried it for a snack one day.

We made our own birchbark houses (wigwams) from coffee filters and torn brown paper bags.  We dried them over cereals bowls until the wigwams were dry and rigid so that they wouldn’t collapse.  Here’s a picture of ours when they were still kind of gluey.


We also made maple sugar candy.  I shared the recipe in this post.

We made rock people.  We glued together the rocks and added whatever details the children wanted with sharpies.


We supplemented a vague mention of dreamcatchers in one of the novels with a dreamcatcher mini unit.

We made canoes out of construction paper.  You can find the instructions we used here.

We talked about how they had different homes and lifestyles during the different seasons.  We used an activity in Northeast Indians: Easy Make & Learn Projects to illustrate that.

NE Indian seasons

We read Paddle-to-the-Sea to familiarize ourselves with the geography of the Great Lakes region.

We researched and read about bears and crows.

All these things were simple ways that we brought our reading of The Birchbark House and its sequels to life.


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