Begin With a Buffalo

Begin With a Buffalo lesson plan

Native people living on the Great Plains depended on buffalo for survival. Discover many uses for their hides—and other parts!

  • 1.

    Find out about the American buffalo or bison. How did this fascinating animal enable people of the Plains to survive? Here’s a way to show what you know about buffalo!

  • 2.

    <STRONG>Prepare the "hide."</STRONG> Open, crumple, and soak a brown paper grocery bag in water. Flatten and air-dry the bag. With Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils, draw a large buffalo (animal or hide) on the bag. Cut it out with Crayola Scissors. Erase any extra marks.

  • 3.

    <STRONG>Set the scene</STRONG>. Using Crayola Twistables, color construction paper with sky and prairie. Attach the buffalo to your background with a Crayola Glue Stick.

  • 4.

    <STRONG>Make miniature replicas</STRONG>. On a separate paper, use Crayola Multicultural Markers and Twistables to draw and color many items that Native Americans made from buffalo. Glue them to the buffalo for an informative display.


  • Students research the American bison or buffalo to recognize the importance of this animal to the Native peoples of the Great Plains.
  • Students identify many items used by Plains tribes that originated from the buffalo.
  • Students create a detailed display to show several items that were made from buffalo parts.


  • Using brown paper bags, create life-size replicas of things that the Plains Indians made from buffalo, such as tipis, puddings, moccasins, soaps, or cradleboards. Label them for a large bulletin board display. Find out which part of the buffalo (hide, bon
  • Discover the Lakota Sioux legend of the white buffalo. What other stories are told about buffalo?
  • On a map, outline the area that is considered to be the Great Plains. What U.S. and Mexican states and Canadian provinces are found in these areas now? Where are the buffalo? Which indigenous peoples lived in these areas? Where are they today?
  • Assessment: Verify that the drawings represent authentic Plains Indians artifacts made from any parts of the buffalo.