Abstract 11- Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 2010

Social Studies Research and Practice

Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 2010



Cereal Box Dioramas of Native American Cultures: A Collaborative Project

Audrey C. Rule
Amy K. Lockhart
Frank Darrah
Lois A. Lindell
University of Northern Iowa


A social studies methods instructor and college students collaborated with an elementary teacher and fifth grade students to produce exciting cereal box dioramas of Native American cultures from different parts of the United States. The dioramas were constructed of a cereal box with a model of a historic Native American home on the front. The box was cut to open like a book to reveal the inside of the home and a ceremonial scene. The back and sides of the box featured crafts, clothing, food, transportation, or other information. Seven steps were implemented to guide this project-based learning experience. 1) Project’s goal: to engage students in active, meaningful learning, integrated with art, challenging in complexity and three-dimensional spatial reasoning, while addressing the values of Native Americans. 2) Involve students in researching and illustrating, “What were the lives of Native Americans like?” 3) Plan assessment of student research notebooks. 4) Plan assessment of final project’s required components. 5) Map how the project will unfold. 6) Respond to the challenge of making a three-dimensional model by providing examples and assistance. 7) Manage the project through collaboration between pre-service teachers and elementary students along with involvement of other school personnel.

Key words: dioramas, elementary students, Native Americans, culture, pre-service teachers, project-based learning, social studies methods

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