Intermediate Level Lessons | Bundle of Twigs

NotebookandPen45.png Intermediate
One Class Period

Program Segments

1810 – 1811 Calls for War (7 ½ minutes) 
Summer 1812 The Americans Invade (18 ½ minutes) 
Autumn 1812 Campaign in the West (6 minutes)
Spring 1813 The British Invade (7 minutes) 
September 1813 Showdown on the Great Lakes (9 ½ minutes) 

NCSS Themes

I: Culture and Cultural Diversity
III: People, Places, and Environments
V: Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
VI: Power, Authority, and Governance 

Canadian (Ontario) Concepts

  • Interactions and Interdependence
  • Environment
  • Change and Continuity
  • Power and Governance 

Canadian (Ontario) Specific Expectations – Seventh Grade

  • Describe the major causes and personalities of the War of 1812
  • Describe the impact of the War of 1812 on the development of Canada
  • Explain key characteristics of life in English Canada from a variety of perspectives
  • Describe the different groups of people 

Students will be able to:

  • identify at least one way that Tecumseh had an impact on Native Americans, the Americans, and the British leading up to and during the War of 1812
  • relate these ideas to present-day Native Americans 

Focus Questions

  1. How does Tecumseh’s quote, “A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong” relate to the essence of who he was and what he stood for?
  2. What is the difference in unity among the tribes from the past in comparison to the present?

Key Concepts

Unity, Alliance, Colonist, Tribal heads, Confederation, Treaties
Instructional Resources
The War of 1812 DVD
Popsicle Sticks
Icon Debate template (148.0 KB)
Icon Cigarette Tax Dispute newspaper article (36.9 KB)


  1. The teacher will have the quote “A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong,” written on the board. The teacher will read the quote aloud, and explain to the class that they will be watching parts of a documentary that contains information on Tecumseh, a Native American who spoke those words while leading a fight for the rights of his people.
  2. The teacher will play The War of 1812 segments.
  3. After the documentary, the teacher will show the class a tray of twigs.  On the tray there will be 15 single twigs (Popsicle sticks) mixed with 15 bundles of twigs (5 Popsicle sticks tied together).  The teacher will randomly give each student either a single twig or a bundle of twigs.
  4. The teacher will then ask students to test and discuss the strength of the bundle of twigs versus the strength of the single twig.  The teacher and students will then discuss how the “strength of the twigs” is really a metaphor for the strength of all Native Americans standing and fighting together, without surrendering their lands to the Americans or the British.
  5. The teacher will then split the class into 3 groups:  the Native Americans, the British, and the Americans.  The teacher will remind the students that Tecumseh had earned the deepest respect from all three groups, as was described in the documentary.  Working together, each group will have five minutes to write a quick description of how or why Tecumseh had earned such high praise from their group.
  6. The teacher will then remind the class how over time, the Native Americans had been uprooted and moved, and they were separated as a people.  In one of his last attempts to stand up for the rights of his people, Tecumseh set out to gather the heads of all Native American tribes to come together to fight as one. 
  7. To incorporate current events, the teacher will describe issues that are on-going between Native people and local or federal governments. For example, in the early part of the 21st century Native Americans were fighting for their treaty rights against paying state taxes in New York.
  8. The teacher might distribute current information about such on-going disputes. It would be important to explain very specifically that tribal heads met for the first time in 200 years in 2010 to discuss the issue of disputes between Native People and other sovereign governments.
  9. Students will write a summary, supported by historical facts, on what effect the teachings of Tecumseh had on the Native Americans in the War of 1812 and what effect Tecumseh’s teachings might have on Native American tribes in the contemporary world. 

Assessment Task
The students will have a constructive debate to voice their opinions on the subject. They will also write a summary about Tecumseh’s effect on his people and the current Native tribes. 

Additional Resources
A Native Nations Perspective on the War of 1812 

Related PBS Resources

We Shall Remain: Tecumseh’s Vision
Explore the significance of Tecumseh's stand for Native American survival and his visionary movement to secure cultural and physical space for Indian people through united resistance. 
Sacred Ground or Federal Ground?
Examine the struggles of the Lakota Sioux to maintain their sacred site at Mato Tipila at Devils Rock in Wyoming. Compare the plight of the Lakota to that of the Hopi and Wintu, who also struggle to maintain their sacred lands.


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Icon A Bundle of Twigs Lesson Plan (373.2 KB)

The Legacy of the War of 1812 and the impact it had on Native nations in North America.

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Shawnee Chief Tecumseh


The death of Tecumseh