Grades 5-8: Exploring the Origins of Utah. (Social Studious)

Curriculum Review, February 2002 | Go to article overview

Grades 5-8: Exploring the Origins of Utah. (Social Studious)


How did the state hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics get its name? Learn about Utah's origins in this lesson crafted by educator Sheri Sohm.

"The indigenous people of the Salt Lake Valley and northeast Utah were the Ute Indians," Sohm notes. "Tradition and some history books claim that `Utah' comes from the name of this tribe. Students will understand that even published information might not contain the entire truth. Word of mouth, legends, and inaccurate research can obscure the truth. This incorrect information may then be passed from one source to another. Students will better understand how more than one source should be considered in order to get closer to the truth."

Materials: Deseret News article, "Utah, The Riddle Behind the Name," located at http://www.uen.org/ utahlink/lp_res/Centennial07NameA.html.

Digging in the past: Ask students, "Where did the name Utah come from?" Direct them to look up the answers in history books and encyclopedias. Have them share their findings to see if all the sources agree.

Next, play the Gossip Game. Students sit in circles. One student is asked to think of a word or phrase to whisper to the nearest neighbor. This student whispers to the next, until the whispered phrase goes around the circle and comes back to the original speaker. The last person will tell what they heard. Has the wording remained the same? Discuss what happens when people repeat something over time.

Explain that history goes through much the same process. Except where specific facts are recorded on the spot, changes come about each time a person perceives an idea. Read sections of "Utah, The Riddle Behind the Name," which details where the name for Utah may have originated. …

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