Teaching Guide

Teachers should also read the Life on the Prairie: A History of Illinois Module Teaching Guide for further information.



The Mississippian Indians at Cahokia tour will guide fourth- and fifth-grade Chicago Public School students through the history of Illinois during the pre-Columbian period.

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It is important to learn about the ways and lifestyle of the indigenous people of Illinois. Knowledge of the Mississippians at Cahokia will increase the learners' appreciation for cultural differences and for the accomplishments made by prehistoric people in Illinois. The learner will also gain an appreciation of the Mississippians ingenuity using the resources in his environment for the necessities needed to survive, and for making an impact in history today. By understanding the trials and accomplishments of our past, we can appreciate the present and build for the future.

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This tour is designed for fourth- and fifth grade students in the Chicago Public Schools. Private school students or any other young people or adults interested in the Mississippian culture at Cahokia could also use it.

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•Reading at a 4th grade level
•Use of Internet browsers
•Use of mouse

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Subject Matter

The subject matter of this module includes the following:

•The history of the Mississippian Indian culture in the State of Illinois during the pre-Columbian period.
•The role that geography plays on the development of cities, landmarks and how geography dictates the lifestyle of a people.
•Cultural anthropology of the Mississippian lifestyle.
•The role archeology plays in uncovering the past.

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Internet-connected computer with browser (version 5.0 recommended) for each student or group of students; or a projector with a large group of students.

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Instructional Plan

It is recommended that teachers preview this tour to find any concepts or vocabulary that may need to be covered before the students begin. Teachers may wish to create a vocabulary/spelling list for using the terms found in this tour.

Teachers are strongly encouraged to set up a discussion time for students after each computer session so that they can reflect and give feedback on what they have experienced so far in the tour.

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Learning Objectives

Illinois State Goals

This tour is designed to specifically address Goals 14, 16, and 18 of the Illinois State Learning Standards:

•State Goal 14: Understand, analyze, and compare political systems, with an emphasis on the United States.
•State Goal 16: Understand and analyze events, trends, individuals and movements shaping the history of Illinois, the United States and other nations.
•State Goal 18: Understand, analyze, and compare social systems, with an emphasis on the United States.

In addition this multidisciplinary tour indirectly addresses the other goals through information about the Mississippian culture. Refer to the standards chart for detailed information.

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Assessment and Evaluation

Questions for Cahokia

Answer True or False

1. Mound 72 is the largest prehistoric earthen mound in the world
2. Effigy pipes were carved in the shape of a man or an animal.
3. Woodhenge, was a calendar that marked the seasons and important dates.
4. The Mississippians ate every part of the deer, including the brains.
5. Division of labor means people worked at what they do best.
6. Monks Mound was located in the center of the plaza
7. Maize is another name for corn.
8. Archeologists discovered Mound 72 in 1972.
9. The "Great Sun" lived on a platform mound.
10. People were buried only in the conical mounds.


1. Describe how your local government is organized and compare it with the Mississippian culture.

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Additional Information

The Field Museum has wonderful exhibits on the Indians of the Americas, and you can get experience boxes containing artifacts for use in the classroom. Information about experience boxes and planning a field trip to the museum can be found here.

Background Information

The name "Trappist" comes from the Cistercan Abbey of La Trappe in Normandy, France, reformed in the late 17th century. When the French Revolution suppressed all the religious houses in the year 1790, the monks of La Trappe took refuge as a Community in Switzerland, and after many hardships and wanderings eventually returned to France in 1815 to refound the Abbey and the Congregation of La Trappe. This Congregation flourished and the houses of Trappists were founded in Europe, the United States and elsewhere, so that at present there are some 100 houses of men and 60 of women throughout the world. [source]

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