Aboriginal Perspectives



Jessica Wesaquate

Subject Area:



Shape and Space (Measurement)

Grade Level:



General Objectives:

Students will describe and compare everyday phenomena, using either direct or indirect measurement.

General Outcome:

Estimate, measure, and compare, using whole numbers and nonstandard units of measure.

Specific Outcomes:

  1. Estimate, measure, record and compare the volume/capacity of containers, using nonstandard units.

  2. Estimate, measure, record, and compare the mass (weight) of objects, using nonstandard units.

  3. Recognize that different objects may have the same mass (weight).

  4. Estimate and measure the passage of time related to nonstandard units.


Activity 1: old berry cans, water, milk jug

Activity 2: balance beam, paper towel, two types of berries (ex. blueberries and raspberries)

Activity 3: birch bark biting samples

Activity 4: Pieces of Aboriginal regalia (i.e. beads, jingles, piece of hide)


  1. Brainstorm with students how they can measure the amount of liquids a container can hold without a measuring cup. Show the students that one method you can use is an old can. For Aboriginal content use an old can with berries and talk about the significance of the berry to traditional lifestyles of Aboriginal people. The berry provided nutrition and needed vitamins. Many First Nations people still use the berry in their cooking.

    Have students estimate how many old berry cans full of water it will take to fill up a milk jug. Once they have recorded their estimate, they can check their estimate. Was the estimate about right? Or did it need less or more?

  2. Have students estimate the number of blueberries they would need to balance 5 raspberries. Allow students to measure and count to check their estimate. Did the students need more or fewer blueberries than estimated? This activity can be done with any type of berry or other manipulative. Paper towel is suggested to lie down so balance beam doesn’t get sticky.

    Let students put the 5 raspberries and the number of blueberries that balanced those onto one side. Can they find an item in the classroom that can balance the berries combined? Ask students about how they can check their decision.

  3. Using the balance scale, choose two pieces of Aboriginal regalia that look different but have about the same mass. Check.

  4. Hand out a birch bark-biting sample (print off) to each student. How many fingers snaps will it take for the student to complete the following? Students can estimate and check.

    • The folding of the birch bark eight times

    • To write their name on the back on the sample.

    Did the activities need more or few than estimated?