Paleo Indians Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Paleo Indians were some of the first people to live in what is now North and South America. Come learn about these ancient people, how they lived, how they hunted, what they ate, and some other cool facts about them.

Who Were the Paleo Indians?

Imagine being able to jump in a time machine and go back really far in time. When you step out of your time machine, you notice that there are no buildings, cars, or airplanes. The city you left has been replaced by wilderness. You see a herd of bison traveling along, and they are being stalked by men with spears. You are watching the Paleo Indians hunt for their dinner!

Paleo Indians (pronounced PAY-lee-oh) were some of the first people to move into and live in North and South America. The word paleo even means 'old' or 'ancient' in the Greek language.

Toward the end of the last ice age, around 50,000 B.C., many parts of the world were covered in huge ice sheets. As the level of the seas and oceans went down, land that had been underwater was now dry.

Some of that ice and newly-dry land created natural bridges between continents, the way new bridges are built today that connect roads in the city where you live.

Map of the Bering Strait
Map of the Bering Strait

Those bridges let people and animals travel to new lands that they couldn't get to before. Scientists think that the Paleo Indians crossed over the Bering Strait from Asia into what is now Alaska, and spread out through North and South America.

Life as a Paleo Indian

Early Paleo Indians were probably nomads, or people who move from place to place in search of food. It's like being on a camping trip your entire life, hauling around everything you own on your back and not staying one place for very long.

If there weren't caves around to sleep in, Paleo Indians would build their own shelter, but they weren't like the home you live in. They were made of plants that grew nearby and skins from animals they had killed. They made their clothes out of those plants and skins, too, since they couldn't go to the store and buy clothes the way you do.

Paleo Indians were also hunter-gatherers, which means they not only hunted animals to eat, but also went foraging for plants that they could snack on.

What did the Paleo Indians Eat?

Scientists think the Paleo Indians gathered up things like fruits, seeds, insects, and plant roots, which they ate along with meat.

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