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Lesson Plan #9 - How Much Land is Left?
Keith Erickson
Poplar Middle School
Grade Levels: 5, 6
Links: Language, Arts, Geography, Social, Studies


Population and land size are two very important elements when dealing with Montana's Indian Reservations. Determining the size of the Reservations and the population not only make for great skills they are also very meaningful. The children can actually compare how big the Reservations are compared to other Reservations.

Time Required:

Two to Three class periods-40 minutes each.

Teacher Preparation:

The teacher needs previous knowledge of cooperative groups and how the process of cooperative groups works. Also, the teacher will definitely need to get maps and a lot of information on Reservations in Montana (Ft. Peck, Rocky Boy, Blackfeet, Flathead, Crow, Northern Cheyenne, and Fort Belknap.) Encyclopedias, maps and an atlas are excellent sources for this lesson.

Click the Montana map below:


Student Preparation:

This would be excellent when studying area and population. The students will need information on how to determine area of an object (L x W). They will need to know where the Montana's Reservations are located and what types of Indians inhabit those Reservations.

Materials for the Classroom:
Butcher Paper
Reference Books

National Standards:

This lesson will cover the following NCTM Math National Standards-

  • Content Standard 6 - Whole Number concepts and skills
  • Content Standard 7 - Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
  • Content Standard 9 - Two and three- dimensional geometry


Using area to determine the size of Montana's seven Indian Reservations.


Tell the class that Reservations are lands that their ancestors settled upon many years ago. Explain how a treaty was signed and how many times the signers were bribed. Also, explain how the Reservations are a sovereign nation within the State of Montana.

Procedures for the Classroom:

  1. The kids need to be broken into heterogeneous groups by the method the teacher chooses. You will need 2-3 kids in each group.
  2. Give the kids a rubric telling them exactly what the teacher is looking for in the final product. Several points should be given to working cooperatively.
  3. Assign each group a Reservation.
  4. Inform the children that to find the area of an object they simply need to multiply the length of the object times the width. An area board with 100 squares is a excellent way to demonstrate this. The length on one side of the board is 10 squares. The width of the other side is also 10 squares. Now, when multiplied (10 x 10) the total area of that board will be 100 squares. Count all the squares and the children will find that there really is 100 squares on that board.
  5. Each group will then use the reference materials supplied to determine just how large their Reservation is. Tell them to first find the length in miles. Then find the width in miles. After they find the length and width they apply the formula given: L x W=AREA.
  6. Once these numbers are found ask each group to then measure the area of Montana using the same formula. Once this number is found ask each group to divide the area of Montana by the area of their Reservation. This number will give the percentage of land in Montana that each Reservation contains.
  7. Now add all the percentages and this number will give the total percentage of land occupied by Montana Indians.
  8. When finished, using the cooperative group model, each group should be given an assessment sheet. This sheet should deal specifically with how the group worked together. They are to grade themselves on how well they participated.

Facts and Concepts:

Before the overtaking of their land by the Europeans, the Natives who lived here had a great abundance of land. With the advent of Reservations, the Natives are now down to just a small percentage of the land they used to have. Determining the area of each Reservation gives the children a great example of just how much land the Natives used to have versus the land they have now.

Follow-up Activities:

  1. Finding the perimeter of each Reservation could also be included in this lesson.
  2. Allow each group to find the population and types of Indians that inhabit the different Reservations.
  3. Do other States that have Reservations and determine the area and perimeter of those Reservations.
  4. Each group can explore further on the economy and history of each Reservation.
  5. Make an exact scale of the Reservation on a piece of butcher paper.
  6. Do a comparison in the number of Montana Indians vs. other Montana citizens.

Evaluation Suggestions:

  1. An excellent evaluation tool is to give the kids all the Reservations on a sheet of paper with the length and width of each Reservation. Give the kids the length and width and have them calculate each Reservation's area.
  2. Another excellent tool is to give them all the areas from largest to smallest. Then give them the same sheet of paper with the Reservations. Have them label each Reservation with the appropriate area. This is a example of a cooperative group assessment. There are many different examples of these types of assessment sheets. Each person in the group receives a sheet to fill out. Emphasis should be given on honesty. The kids should be very honest when filling this out.
  • How Well Did We Do? Have them answer yes or no
  • Everyone in the group participated?
  • We worked together?
  • Everyone had a role?

Bryan, William J. Montana's Indians: Yesterday and Today. 1996. American & World Geographic Publishing.

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