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Aboriginal Youth Identity Series: Health and WellnessElementarySeniors Health and Wellness
Health and Wellness
Health and Wellness

Lesson 2: The Hoop and Pole Game

Teacher Information:

Many years ago, Aboriginal children did not have as much free time to play games as children today do. They had many responsibilities. Boys would be learning how to hunt and trap while girls would be learning how to prepare meet, set up and move tipis, among other chores. They did however, play some games as recreation. Some games were only for boys and men, others for girls and women, and some were for both.

Games were not only fun but also they served a practical purpose as well. Many of the games taught the children to be quick and to have good hand eye coordination. Boys played most of the outdoor activities like running, wrestling, archery, and hoop and stick. Girls would play shinny or dice games. Indoor games such as juggling, cats cradle, and others were played by young and old.

On the plains, a popular game amongst plains Aboriginal children was the Hoop and Pole Dart Game. While many variations existed on this game, the general gist of the game was that a hoop was rolled and the opponent would try to throw or shoot arrows through the hoop while it was in motion. The hoop could also be hung from a tree and be in motion and the opponent would have to get an arrow through it while moving. This game was also enjoyed by the elder Aboriginal community members.


Students will:

  • Discover some of the practical aspects of playing games
  • Create their own version of an Aboriginal game
  • Demonstrate appreciation for Aboriginal culture
  • Analyze some of the games they play at home or at school

Main Lesson:

Begin this lesson by asking students to identify their favourite game. Older students may write this down and create a list of why they like this game. Next, ask students what this game teaches them other than how to have fun. Older students may write their responses. Follow up the discussion by transitioning to Aboriginal culture. Inform the students that Aboriginal children played games as well and while they were “recreation,” they were teaching them skills to become better hunters and so on. Share with them the information from the Teacher Information section. Ask the students if they have ever heard of the Hoop and Pole Dart game, perhaps some of your students have even played it. Explain how the game was played. Download the following image into reformat into a transparency so the students can visually see what the hoop looked like.

Image adapted from "Games of the North American Indian" Culin: 1975

Break students into groups of 3 to 4. Each group will be given the following materials and they must construct a hoop and pole and then demonstrate how to play the game. The hoop and pole should resemble the traditional format that was used by Aboriginal children. For younger students, this can be modified to be a class project in which everyone works to create the hoop and pole and then all the students play the game.


  • Pipe cleaners
  • Yarn (various colours)
  • Beads
  • Wire
  • Tin foil
  • Paper (various shapes, sizes, and densities)
  • Scissors
  • Glue or tape

You could make this activity like a competition where students have a specific time limit to create their product. When they are demonstrating how to play the game the group that gets the most points could win a prize or you could have a Hoop and Pole Dart tournament.

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