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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers - Nunavut: The Meaning of Place Names

Type: Webquest
Subjects: Social Studies, Geography
Duration: 2 lessons
Purpose: To understand reasons and conventions for naming places
Summary: Using a variety of web-based resources, students will investigate place names in Nunavut, learn more about their meanings, and create a class map that includes the information they have gathered.


Have students brainstorm the names of several places with which they are familiar. As a group, attempt to identify the origins of those place names and have students give opinions on why the names were chosen. Discuss the importance of appropriate names for places and reasons why names sometimes change. Students may wish to do further research on the origin of a given place name.

The Task

Students will search the topic Creation of Nunavut on the CBC Digital Archives website, and other online resources, to find as many Nunavut place names as possible. For each name, where applicable, students should list its predecessor and the meaning of that name, and the meaning of the new name. Students can then create a chart that shows all of the information gathered.

With all of their information gathered, have students work as a class to create a map of Nunavut that includes both old and new place names. Students can decide together what materials they will use to create the map, and how they want to present it.

The Process

Students can complete their initial research individually or in pairs. They should use more than one source to confirm spellings and meanings of various place names, and should be sure to credit all sources used. They can create their chart by hand or using the computer.


As a class, discuss why they think the names were changed. How does the opportunity to name increase a region's pride?  What challenges might there be in keeping former place names?

Some students may wish to investigate the changing of place names in China, Zaire, Sri Lanka, and other locations where a colonial government has been removed.


Map of Nunavut, map-making materials