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The Saanich Year

Teacher Instructions

In recognition of the creators of this document, please read the acknowledgement

This activity was designed for students in grades 4-7. The hands-on interdisciplinary approach of the activity have been designed to provoke a healthy curiosity and appreciation for universal concepts, the similarities and differences between cultures, and the value of our environment. Teachers are encouraged to take, change and play with the ideas in order to meet the diverse needs of their students and teaching situations.

Organization of this activity

You can approach this activity in two ways.

1) You can either incorporate each moon into your monthly curriculum and use the brain-teasing questions at the end of each moon page as discussion items.

2) Study the moons as one unit and divide your class into groups of two.

In either case, the ultimate objective is to have students understand the relationship between each moon, the environment and First Nations activities, and relating it to their own lives.


The following are available for you to conduct this activity:




Introduction to this activity for students



Calendars background Information



Coast Salish First Nation background information



13 Moons Student Work Sheet



Vocabulary Builder for students to fill out



Assessment Rubric for you to make a contract with your students



List of The 13 moons of WSANEC


Links page - a set of good Internet links that have been pre-screened for you. Note that there are further links from the Race Rocks First Nations Pages


Suggested Introductory Activities

After reviewing the 13 moons resources and history of the Coast Salish peoples with you, a sample interview of an Elder . In this video the Elder Earle Claxton talks about the use of organisms from the sea for food and medicines. As a class discuss why this information is important to the culture of the Coast Salish peoples. Also show your students a video first with the music muted, then with music. Have them compare and contrast the two videos and then discuss what music they think would enhance the Earle Claxton interview.

Shared Learnings, a document developed by the Ministry of Education is an excellent resource for incorporating First Nations activities throughout your curriculum. A copy of this document should be available in your school or you can order a copy.

These are some suggestions for introducing the Saanich Year - Thirteen Moons to your class.

Read and discuss the explanations of the moons.

A)  Have students brainstorm:

  • What does the moon mean to you?
  • What is a calendar?
  • In what ways are calendars used?
  • Discuss similarities in calendars of different cultures.
  • Discuss similarities in calendars of different first nations groups. (This reference is for teachers only as there is a lot of advertising on it. However, it is included because it is a good reference for seeing how many First Nations groups have correlated moons and nature.)

B)  With reference to the Saanich Peoples, discuss:

  • The explanations for each of the 13 moons of the WSANEC People.
  • How the references to the natural occurrences in the description of the activity illustrates important beliefs in Saanich culture.
  • How we can relate to these moons to natural occurrences in our own lives.

C)   Discuss what happens during the roughly corresponding months in your students' lives.

  • For instance, September would be 'back to school' month.

D)   Have students create their own calendar of moons, drawing the significant happenings reflected in their own lives.  Students can then compare and contrast the First Nations Culture with their own.

E)   Discuss with the students how their attitude/ learning/ thinking have changed as a result of this learning experience.

Extensions and Adaptations

Have students choose a culture other than first nations and compare and contrast events that happen during each of the moons. For instance, the winter solstice is during the SIS,ET Moon.  In other cultures, there are other activities during this month as well, including Christmas and Chanukah.

Social Studies

Have students create a fishbone graphic of important people in their lives and the roles in which they play.


Research, report and illustrate each of the ecosystems within a cedar tree.

Language Arts

Share the concept of the 'Storyteller's bag' of mnemonic artefacts mentioned on the bottom of page 7 of Keepers of the Earth.  Have students collect stories or write a series of stories and create a storytellers bag for their classroom community. Encourage the 'oral tradition' of sharing these stories with their classmates or buddies.

Have students create a sentence using the Klallum language


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Garry Fletcher