Grade:||3-5, 5-8, 9-12
Students learn about the Navajo code talkers and use a Navajo code talkers' dictionary to create and decode secret messages.
Students learn about the Navajo code talkers and their contributions to World War II. Students use a Navajo code talkers' dictionary to create and decode messages.
Native American, Navajo, Navajo code talkers, World War II, dictionary, decode, messages
- teacher-selected materials about the Navajo code talkers or information about them from the sites noted in the lesson
- printouts from
Navajo Code Talkers' Dictionary (one per
- pens or pencils
- Read to students background information about the Navajo code talkers from library sources or from The Navajo Code Talkers or Navajo Code Talkers: World War II Fact Sheet. Discuss the code talkers' contributions.
- Divide the class into small groups. Distribute printouts from one of the dictionaries. (Note: There is a slight difference between the two dictionaries. Choose the same one to distribute to each group.)
- Give students an example of how the code might work. (For example, boy in Navajo code might be "shush ne-ahs-jah tsah-as-zih." Shush is the Navajo word for "bear"; ne-ahs-jah is the Navajo word for "owl"; and tsah-as-zih is the Navajo word for "yucca." If you take the first letter of each translated word, those letters spell boy.)
- Tell students to work together to create messages using the dictionary. Then tell groups to exchange papers to decode one another's messages. Encourage creativity!
Observe students' participation and ability to work in cooperative groups.