The Earliest Americans
Crossing The Land Bridge
3rd Grade Social Studies
Presented by Joan Stewart
Core Knowledge Facilitator
P. S. 123M
The Big Idea
For thousands of years before the arrival of
Christopher Columbus, America was populated
by a variety of Native people…
What Students Should Already Know
One or more groups of Native American
The earliest people were Native Americans and
The “land bridge” from Asia to North America.
The development of cities and towns.
Sequoyah, The Trail of Tears.
What Students Need to Know
During the Ice Age, scientists believe that
Nomadic hunters migrated from Asia to North
America, possibly by crossing a land bridge
across what is now the Bering Strait.
What Students Need To Know
Different people with different languages and
ways of life spread throughout North and South
 Inuit
 Iroquois
 Anasazi
 Hopi
 Mound
 Zuni
 Pueblos
 Navajo
 Cherokee
Student Vocabulary
Land bridge
Arctic Ocean
Bering Sea
North America
Bering Strait
Wooly mammoth
Cross-Curricular Connections
Language Arts
Informational books
Visual Arts
American Indian Art
Classification of animals
Latitude and longitude
Human interaction
Important Ideas
The first people of North America are believed to
have crossed from Asia into North American,
either by a land bridge or by water between 30, 000
and 15,000 years ago.
As the first peoples spread throughout North and
South America their customs, traditions and
languages changed as they adapted to new
environments and new ways of food production.
Crossing the Land Bridge
Scholars generally agree that the native people of North
and South America migrated to North America across
the land bridge called Beringia from Asia anywhere from
50,000 to 1.500 years ago.
Bering Strait
The Ice Age
Earth was in the middle of the last Ice age.
Much of Earth’s water was frozen in the form
of ice and snow. During the Ice Age, Asia and
North America were connected by ice and snow.
Scientists believe that the first Americans
crossed a land bridge that joined the eastern tip
of Asia with what is now Alaska, in North
The Earliest Americans
The first people to cross into North America
from Asia hunted prehistoric animals like the
wooly mammoth. It is thought that the earliest
Americans followed the herds of animals across
the land bridge
Heading South
As the Ice Age warmed, the earliest Americans
followed the prehistoric animals south into
Canada, North America. Mexico, Central
America and South America.
From Hunting to Farming
As the ice disappeared so did the prehistoric
animals that the hunters relied on for their food,
clothing and shelter. The animals may have died
off because it began to get warmer or because
the hunters killed off too many animals.
From Hunting to Farming
Hunters began to hunt smaller animals like deer
and rabbits for their food. The earliest
Americans also began to pick wild plants, seeds,
berries and dig up roots to eat.
From Hunting to Farming
Some people began to understand that if they
planted the seeds of the plants they found they
would be able to get more food and they would
not have to travel everyday looking for food.
Planting seeds and harvesting the crops was the
beginning of farming. Farming meant that
people needed to stay in one place to take care
of their crops.
From Hunting to Farming
Once people began to stay in one place, some
type of laws were required to organize groups
of people living together.
This was the beginning of government.
Someone needed to decide what was to be done
and who needed to do it.
From Hunting to Farming
The development of Native American culture in
the United States was different for each group.
While the Anasazi in the Southwest United
States and the Eastern Woodland Indians in the
Northeast United States both hunted and
farmed, many North American native people
remained hunters.
As most Native Americans settled in one place
and adapted to their environment, they began to
develop different languages. People who became
farmers would need a larger vocabulary to
explain their crops, tools and growing process.
The hunters would need to have words to name
the animals they killed and the uses they made
of them, such as food, clothing and shelter.
The Inuit (Eskimos)
The northernmost people in North America
were the Inuit. They are also called Eskimos.
They live in Alaska and in the Arctic region of
Canada. They also live in Greenland and
The Inuit (Eskimos)
Scientists believe that the Inuit did not cross the
land bridge over the Bering Strait from Asia to
North America until about 4,000 years ago. It is
believed that the Inuit probably came by boat or
walked across the frozen Bering Strait. They live
the farthest north of all Native Americans.
The Inuit (Eskimos)
The Inuit live very much the way their ancestors
lived thousands of years ago.
For food, clothing, weapons, tools and fuel they
depend on the fish they catch and the caribous,
seals, whales and walruses they hunt.
The Inuit (Eskimos)
In the winter the Inuit live in houses made of
sod, wood and stone. In the summer they use
tents made of animal skins. Igloos, houses
made of blocks of snow are only used when the
Inuit go on hunts and then only rarely.
The Inuit (Eskimos)
Kayaks and dog sleds are their means of
transportation. Inuit life revolves around the sea
and animals.
Ongoing Assessment
Have students create a dramatization showing how
humans may have crossed the land bridge.
Review writing paragraphs by having students
write about the Inuit, researching the Inuit in more
depth, highlighting what they have learned about
the Inuit, review the structure of a paragraph
including topic sentence, at least three supporting
details and a concluding sentence.
Ongoing Assessment
As a way to organize the study of Native
American groups, have students make writing
webs. Instruct them to put the name of a
Native American group in the center of the web
and then extend supporting details about the
group around the web. Use these graphic
organizers to help students make short
Ongoing Assessment
Give students an opportunity to learn about
Native American groups in their area. Museum
trips or speakers are some ways for students to
learn about the local culture of Native
Americans. Have students compare and
contrast the local Native American culture with
other Native American cultures.
Ongoing Assessment
Organize a classroom library and have
students read about the various Native
American groups.
 Have the students plan and act out a skit to
inform the class of some aspect of Native
American life. Have students submit the
skit to the teacher to check accuracy. At the
end of the presentation ask each student to
tell one new fact that he or she learned.
Where did the first people of North America come
from and how might they have gotten here?
What kind of big animals did the earliest
Americans hunt?
What happened when the prehistoric animals
Why did the ancestors of Native Americans spread
throughout North and South America?

The Earliest Americans