Students attempting to get an ember with a bow and drill

Fire Technology

Overall Goal

This is an experiential program where students will gain an understanding and practice in a variety of fire starting techniques and understand their histories. They will understand the impact of the sharing of this knowledge between cultures.

Grade 6 Curriculum Connections

Social Studies - Heritage and Identity: Communities in Canada, Past and Present
  • assess contributions to Canadian identity made by various groups and by various features of Canadian communities and regions
  • use the social studies inquiry process to investigate different perspectives on the historical and/or contemporary experiences of two or more distinct communities in Canada


Program Description
Students explore an important, Indigenous technological advancement by trying bow and drill technology to attempt to start a fire. Using flint (we actually use quartz) and steel, students will better understand the Indigenous people's desire to trade for European technology. 

If done in a full program block, this may also include the cooking of cedar tea, bannock, or parched corn, basic fire building skills from collecting tinder, kindling, and bigger wood responsibly and building a one match fire.

Success Criteria/Learning Goals

1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of how fire can be started using various techniques i.e., bow and drill, flint and steel.

2. Students will explain the necessary components to starting a fire.

3. Students will describe how the arrival of European explorers and settlers influenced First Nations fire starting techniques.

4. Students demonstrate behaviours that maximize their safety and that of others while practicing fire starting techniques.


Pre-Trip Activity
The NFB film telling a story of "How People Got Fire" could be used an introduction. It's a story from the Tagish First Nation.
Next Step Environmental Action
Students explore traditional fire lighting techniques among different cultures and compare strategies given the different resources available. Here is a lesson plan you can use. Tie this into the impact of climate change on the increase of wildfire. 
Resources
OISE has a resource called Deepening Knowledge Project which is a curricula database for infusing Indigenous education into your classroom with information, grade specific lesson plans, videos, and links to books and films.

For more suggestions see our page Learning Resources under Aboriginal Education.

Available in fall and spring seasons
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