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Indian in the Cupboard Lessons: Research and Projects

written by: Patricia Gable • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 8/24/2014

Omri put a plastic Indian in a cupboard, turned the key and suddenly the Indian was alive! Now it's time for your students to make cupboards and think of objects that they can put inside. What happens when the object comes to life? Indian in the Cupboard lessons will also involve Iroquois research.

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    Learn More About the Iroquois

    After your students have read The Indian and the Cupboard, continue this book unit by doing related lessons, which include a Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks research project and a creative writing activity.

    Little Bear was an Iroquois Indian, the son of a chief. He told Omri that he lived in a longhouse, not a teepee, and that his tribe fought on the side of the English against the French. Learn more about the Iroquois. Where did they live? Describe their lifestyle and customs. Who were their enemies? Why were they called “The Five Nations"?

    You may choose to have this research done in small groups and have expectations and objectives such as:

    1. Written report with references cited

    2. Oral presentation using note cards with facts

    3. Constructing a longhouse

    4. Drawing and coloring a map of the Iroquois landIndian Longhouse 

    5. Making a costume similar to what the Iroquois wore

    Encourage a variety of references both online and from the library. Here are some books that may serve as good references:

    The Divided Ground: Indians, settlers, and the northern borderline of the American Revolution by Allen Taylor

    The Iroquois by Raymond Bial

    The Iroquois by Petra Press

    Lacrosse: The National Game of the Iroquois by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith

    The Iroquois by Lydia Bjornlund

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    Individual Project: What's in Your Cupboard?

    This project may be done at home or during time allotted in class. You may want to team up with the art teacher to work together on this assignment.


    Make a cupboard. Decide what you will put in it to transform to a living thing. Write a story/ account of what happens when this item comes to life. It does not have to be plastic, as it was in the book, but it must fit in the cupboard. Examples might be: toy dinosaur, stuffed animal, doll, toy car, toy robot, etc.)


    If you are working on the project at school, students should be given a few days to bring in a box/container of some sort to create a cupboard.

    The students can keep the item for the cupboard at home. Encourage them to keep the item a secret so there won’t be a lot ofthumbnail.aspx  duplicates in the room. Creativity counts!





    The writing part of the assignment should be in story form. Give the assignment a minimum length according to the abilities of your students. Use this part of the project for your assessment. Start with a rough draft and end with a final copy.

    Oral Presentation:

    When projects are complete, individual students will do presentations to the entire class: open their cupboard to show the item inside and read the story about what happens when the item comes to life.

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    Small Group Research

    As the activities continue for this study of The Indian in the Cupboard, your lessons will have your students doing research on Iroquois Indians. This could be done in small groups. Then individual projects will be done with students creating cupboards and deciding on an object to place inside the cupboard. What will happen when the item comes to life?

Indian in the Cupboard Novel Study

Take some humor, some drama, a regular sized boy and a miniature indian and you have the makings of a classic novel. Indian in the Cupboard novel study articles will help you set objectives such as acquisition of vocabulary, compare and contrast book and movie, creative writing and more.
  1. Grades 3-5 English Class: Creating a Unit for The Indian in the Cupboard
  2. Interactive Indian in the Cupboard Activities
  3. Indian in the Cupboard Lessons: Research and Projects