Inquiry Box: Southern Florida's Early Native People

Suitable for: All ages but geared to 3rd-5th grade

Participants will:

  • Discover the people who inhabited South Florida, descendants of the Paleoindians and Archaic people who came to Florida thousands of years ago.
  • See replicas of early Indian crafts - a wooden Ivory Billed Woodpecker plaque, a mask, a hammer, a scoop and the feline statue.
  • Find out what middens (old trash heaps) tell us about diet, culture, and climate.
  • Learn how the early people made cord and rope.
  • Read a translation from Spanish records about the Calusa.
  • Handle ancient tool artifacts - points, knives, drills, and scrapers.


The Southern Florida Early Native People Inquiry Box (a large red suitcase and a small red duffle bag) contains books (both fiction and nonfiction), a video, word cards, laminated teaching aids, replicas, artifacts, a timeline, a game, a sorting tray and a teacher's guide (including a suggested approach sheet). This Inquiry Box features 14 shared boxes, each designed to be explored by 1-3 students.

Each shared box contains:

Inquiry Box contents - South Florida Early Native People

  • Sealed packet of 1000+ year old midden
  • Packet fishing gear - hook, net, net gauge, and illustration
  • Packet containing artifacts of tools with identification cards
  • Packet of fiber from which to make cord
  • Replica of the famous feline

This Inquiry Box was designed using the Sunshine State Standards and is intended to enhance FCAT preparation.


Teacher's Guide to Florida's Native People

This teacher's guide may be used for Inquiry Box presentations, Inquiry Box loans and museum visits. The guide contains information on Florida's Indian people, information on associated subjects and related fields of study, vocabulary and suggested activities. All activities are designed to integrate social studies, language arts, math and science in a unified learning experience. Permission is granted to reproduce the information and activities for student and teacher use. All guides are in PDF format.

Full Teacher's Guide

Table of Contents

Part One - Introduction and General Information

Part Two - Southern Florida's Early Native People

Part Five - References (Answers, Vocabulary, Bibliography)

Suggested Links

Randell Research Center - Florida Museum of Natural History

The Calusa: People of the Estuary - The Calusa Land Trust

Native American Tribes of Florida