The First People Arrive

Social Studies American History Geography of the United States The First People Arrive
Students brainstorm associations with the name “American West.” Then they learn about the physical geography of the Western United States, focusing on the landforms and their climates. Next they examine the human geography of the region. Finally, they prepare an oral report about one state in the region.

This learning experience is designed for device-enabled classrooms. The teacher guides the lesson, and students use embedded resources, social media skills, and critical thinking skills to actively participate. To get access to a free version of the complete lesson, sign up for an exploros account.

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Here are the teacher pack items for The First People Arrive:

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In this experience, students generate questions about the oldest human bones found in the Americas. Then they examine how the Paleo-Indians arrived from Asia and how they survived as hunter-gatherers. Next they explain a significant development of the agricultural revolution and the beginning of villages. Finally, they study an object found at an Aztec archaeological site and pose questions and theories about it.

Estimated duration: 30–40 minutes

Vocabulary words:

  • vast
  • archaeologist
  • remains
  • nutritious
  • adaptation
  • reliable
  • diet
  • sophisticated


  • Explain how people first arrived in the Americas.
  • Describe how early people survived in the Americas.


Many U.S. history books begin with the voyage of Christopher Columbus, and they claim that he “discovered America.” It may be true that he was the first European to set foot in the Americas and to bring back knowledge of this vast land to the Europeans. But humans had first arrived in the Americas about 20,000 years earlier! In this experience, you will learn how people arrived in the United States and how they survived.

  • Explain how people first arrived in the Americas.
  • Describe how early people survived in the Americas.

a woman with a sun hat and rubber gloves using a brush to clean a small skull partially buried in sand

An Archaeologist at Work

In 1953, an amateur archaeologist was searching for arrowheads in the area around Midland in west Texas. He found some bone pieces. Carbon testing on his find identified it as human bones belonging to a female about thirty years old—who lived more than ten to twelve thousand years ago. The skeletal remains, given the name “Midland Minnie,” are among the oldest human remains ever found in the New World.

If you could meet Midland Minnie, what questions would you ask her about her life?

Review student questions and choose one for a guiding question during the experience.

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The Complete List of Learning Experiences in Geography of the United States Unit.
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