Personal Artifact Lesson: Santo Domingo Jewelry

Personal Artifact Lesson: Santo Domingo Jewelry

By Jonathan Ropiequet

Jonathan Ropiequet, current MSEd student, designed this lesson plan for third grade students as an opportunity to bring a piece of his own personal history into the classroom. Through this lesson, students are also exposed to technology, geography, history, reading, writing, and art together in a dynamic and entertaining way.

Subject: Social Studies, Language Arts, and Art


  • Treasure Chest
  • Heishe Necklace (personal artifact)
  • Youtube video (technology)
  • Images of Santo Domingo Indians (technology)
  • U.S map projected (technology)
  • Procedural text 

Driving Question

Who made/makes heishi necklaces and how are they made?

Anticipatory Set

The classroom will be dim and have Native American music in the background (preferably from Santo Domingo). Students will come in and see a treasure chest in the middle of the classroom. The teacher and students will sit in a circle around the chest. The teacher will ask them what they think is inside. After a few guesses, the teacher will show them. Then the teacher will pass the necklace around and ask them the following questions:

  • Where did it come from?
  • Who made it?
  • Why was it made?
  • How old is it?
  • What is it made of?
  • What does it look and feel like?

Afterwards the teacher will explain who it belonged to (grandmother) and a little of its history.


After the teacher explains the history of his Heishi necklace, he will write on the board the words Santo Domingo Indians. He will project an image of the U.S map and ask students where they think this group of Native Americans is from originally (the teacher may give them clues as to the Spanish words). After some guessing, the teacher will show them where (present day New Mexico). Then he will show them different pictures of old and modern day Santo Domingo Indians. 

Afterwards, the teacher will tell the students that they will be watching a short video and that afterwards they will have five minutes to write (ELL or L.D draw) what stood out. Then the teacher will display the video that shows: the different kinds of jewelry the Santo Domingo Indians make (silver, turquoise, and heishi jewelry).

Having finished writing in their journals, the teacher will give the students another couple minutes to share with their neighbor what they wrote or drew. Once done, the teacher will hand out to each pair of neighbors a set of instructions that are in mixed order (procedural text) of how to make a heishi necklace. In their pairs they are to: read, cut each instruction, and paste it onto another piece of paper in the correct order. 

When the time is up, students will be asked to gather around the rug and share what they believe is the correct order. When they are done sharing, the teacher will show them a short video of the making process. 


Finally students will be asked to write in their journals a procedure of how to make a heishi necklace as if they were explaining it to students from a different class. They will be told that the next class they will be making heishi necklace replicas with different materials, and that they will continue studying about different Native American tribes. 


Journals will be collected and checked at the end to see how well they understood the process.

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