Science & Culture Unit 3-1: Tule Characteristics

Science & Culture Unit 3-1: Tule Characteristics

Grade Level:


Scope & Sequence:

Science & Culture Unit 3-1: Tule characteristics


Students will recount the story of their field trip to Benjamin Lake. Students will further explore Tule characteristics by comparing and contrasting wet and dried tules.


Students will:

  1. Participate in the practice of oral history by retelling the field trip experience.
  2. Compare and contrast tules before and after they are soaked.
  3. Describe observations to record on a chart before and after experiment.

Spokane Tribal Values

  • Respect
  • Land-Environment
  • Relationships


  • sq̓ʷastqin (tule)
  • sq̓ʷastqin (cattail)
  • čłq’liʔ (lake)
  • yaʕ’ (gathering)
  • sčkʷltasq̓t (Isaac Benjamin-Red Sky)
  • xʷixʷey’uł (birds/animals)
  • sčkʷlkʷltetkʷ (Benjamin Lake)

Lesson Plan

The teacher will:

Retell and share experiences from the field trip, asking students to help her. Sharing should be open. Divide the students into pairs at their desks with two dried tules in front of them. They will compare the two reeds for size (diameter) and other qualities such as texture, color, etc.

  • What color are they?
  • What shape are they?
  • Are they flexible or brittle?
  • How long are the tules?
  • Are they the same diameter?
  • What do your think the tule feels like?
  • Is it hard or soft?

It is important to note that the tules are the same diameter and length. (The teacher will have to make sure that she chooses the tule pairs carefully.)

Then the teacher will ask the students to predict what will happen to the tule if they soak it in water. S/he will allow time for predictions and maybe even write some of them on the board (This is a good time to review the lesson from Head Start about floating.)

Will the tule sink or float? Will the tule stay the same size or get bigger?

Now the teacher and the students will place one of their tule reeds in the water. While waiting for the tules to soak, the teacher will ask the students to recount the fieldtrip. She will direct the telling by asking questions, but the students are encouraged to offer all they remember. At the end of the class they will tell the story again if there is time.

After the tule is thoroughly soaked, the students will take them from the bowl. The teacher will then ask students how to compare the soaked tule with the dried tule. Teacher will ask students to describe the tule plant. Teacher will ask students the same questions as above to see if any of the answers are different. Tules change in texture and size after they are soaked. What do you think would happen if a tule mat gets wet? What about a tule canoe or a tule house?

Making sure the tules are almost exactly the same size is important for this lesson.


  • The teacher will quiz the students by asking them to describe the tule. Do they remember the qualities they learned in Head Start?
  • S/he will also ask the students to predict if the tules will float and if they will get bigger.
  • After the experiment, the teacher will listen to the student’s responses as they describe how the tules changed and also how they stayed the same after soaking.


  • Explore other cultures or Tribes who use tules
  • Compare the inside of a green tule with a dried tule. Take care if you have allergies!

Materials Needed:

  • Large bowls for water on each table
  • 2 Dry Tules cut in 6″ lengths that are similar in diameter


Lesson PDF Download

Related Videos

Related Images

Community Resources

Information sheet on tules

Lesson Assigned To:

  • Knowledge of Language, History and Culture


EALR 2: Inquiry

  • K-1 INQA – Question and Investigate – Scientific investigations involve asking and trying to answer a question about the natural world by making and recording observations.
  • K-1 INQC – Explain and Infer – Scientists develop explanations using recorded observations (evidence).
  • K-1 INQE – Communicate – Observations are more reliable if repeated, especially if repeated by different people.

Environmental and Sustainability Education

Standard 2: The Natural and Built Environment

  • Students engage in inquiry and systems thinking and use information gained through learning experiences in, about, and for the environment to understand the structure, components, and processes of natural and human-built environments.


Common Core Standards


Comprehension and Collaboration:

Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.


Comprehension and Collaboration

Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details and requesting clarification if something is not understood.
Ask and answer questions in order to seek help, get information, or clarify something that is not understood.
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.
Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.


Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.


Conventions of Standard English
Use frequently occurring nouns and verbs.

Understand and use question words (interrogatives) (e.g., who, what, where, when, why, how).

Produce and expand complete sentences in shared language activities.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
With guidance and support from adults, explore word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

Demonstrate understanding of frequently occurring verbs and adjectives by relating them to their opposites (antonyms).
Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., note places at school that are colorful).
Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts.


Measurement and data
Describe measurable attributes of objects, such as length or weight. Describe several measurable attributes of a single object.

Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has “more of”/”less of” the attribute, and describe the difference. For example, directly compare the heights of two children and describe one child as taller/shorter.

Analyze and compare two- and three-dimensional shapes, in different sizes and orientations, using informal language to describe their similarities, differences, parts (e.g., number of sides and vertices/”corners”) and other attributes (e.g., having sides of equal length).

Spokane Tribal Standards

  • A.3 – Acquire and pass on the traditions of their community through oral and written history.
  • A.6 – Live a life in accordance with the cultural values and traditions of the local community and integrate them into their everyday behavior.
  • B.2 – Make effective use of the knowledge, skills, and ways of knowing from their own cultural traditions to learn about the larger world in which they live;
  • B.4 – Identify appropriate forms of technology and anticipate the consequences of their use for improving the quality of life in the community;
  • C.3 – Attain a healthy lifestyle through which they are able to maintain their own social, emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual well-being;
  • D.5 – Identify and utilize appropriate sources of cultural knowledge to find solution to everyday problems.
  • E.2 – Understand the ecology and geography of the bioregion they inhabit;
  • E.4 – Determine how ideas and concepts from one knowledge system relate to those derived from other knowledge systems;
  • E.8 – Identify who they are and their place in the world.