An open body of water somewhere in the Arctic.

Introduction to Nattiit (Ringed Seal)

Grade 3 - Grade 6



About the author

Working alongside rural, remote, Indigeous, and other communities, Pinnguaq delivers programs to cultivate STEAM skills through innovative technology, art, and play.


In this lesson, students learn about nattiit (ringed seals) from both a biological and an Inuit perspective. Students gain a holistic understanding of how these marine mammals interact with their Arctic environment and how they are a part of regular life in the North. Accompanying this lesson is a podcast with Inuk researcher Enooyaq Sudlovenick, in which she discusses her interest in nattiit and how to incorporate both Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit Principles (Inuit guiding principles) and Western knowledge. The lesson concludes with a brief introduction to the micro:bit and MakeCode environment to prepare learners for the activities that follow.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about nattiit and how they are part of Inuit life
  • Learn about the basic habitat of nattiit
  • Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq: Respect and care for the land, animals, and the environment

InInuit Qaujimajatuqangit Principles

Note: Sometimes known as IQ principles, or Inuit guiding principles. It should be noted that the spelling of Inuit terms often differs, according to dialectal differences. The concepts remain shared despite spelling differences (Tagalik, Shirley. Inuit Principles of Conservation- Serving Others).

Qanuqtuurunnarniq (Being resourceful to solve problems)
When hunting nattiit, Inuit hunters use a naluaqtuut (a sharp hunting tool) to get close to an individual nattiq (ringed seal). They place a feather over the nattiq’s breathing holes in the ice to see when they are about to surface.
Avatimik Kamtsiarniq (Promoting environmental stewardship)
Inuit use all the parts of nattiit. Clothing is made out of the sealskin so nothing is wasted.
Pijitsirniq (Serving)
A hunter who catches a nattiq always shares it with other people. By catching the nattiq, hunters are serving their community by providing food.
Tunnganarniq (Being welcoming, open, and inclusive)
If a hunter catches a nattiq on the ice, the hunter welcomes the other hunters in the area to have tea and fresh nattiq liver.
Pilimmaksarniq/Ikajuqtigiinniq (Working together for a common cause)
The important skills needed for harvesting and preparing the nattiq are taught to the younger generation through observation and practice.


ringed seal
ringed seals
Inuit Nunangat
land where Inuit live
polar bear
polar bears
Arctic fox
Arctic foxes
fore flipper
front ribs
back flippers
a sharp hunting tool made from a white material with a wooden frame and a handle



Before starting the lesson, read the students a story about nattiit. Any one of these suggested stories is appropriate to the lesson.

Introduction and Know – Want – Learn Exercise

Nattiit are marine mammals that are integral to Inuit all across Inuit Nunanganit. In this lesson, we look at what nattiit are, their habitats, why they are hunted by Inuit, and how Inuit consume and use them. 

To start the lesson off, ask the students to create a Know-Want-Learn (KWL) chart. 

  • K – What I know 
  • W – What I want to know) 
  • L – What I learned

Before the lesson starts, students write or draw what they already know about nattiit and what they want to know about them (leave the “L” section until the end of the lesson). Once they have written that down, ask a few students to share their charts with the whole class. 

Listening Activity

Enooyaq Sudlovenick is is a PhD student whose research focuses on marine mammals and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit. Listen to this podcast to learn about her research with the nattiq and how she considers both Western knowledge and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit in her approach to research. 

You can listen to the podcast by visiting the Pinnguaq website.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some of the ways the nattiq is important to Inuit?
  2. How did Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit change the approach to research with regards to the nattiq project?
  3. What are some of the changes we see in the ocean when temperatures increase? 
  4. What were some of the observations Enooyaq found in the tissue samples of the nattiq? 
  5. How might IQ principles change approaches to conservation?

What are Nattiit?

Depending on what students indicated they already know about nattiit, either review the following information or provide a more detailed lesson. 

Nattiit are animals that live in the ocean and rely heavily on sea ice. They are mammals that live in the Arctic and can be found as far south as northern Japan. The length of a nattiq is 1.5 metres and they weigh between 50 and 75 kilograms. Their main diet is fish and invertebrates. Nattiit are grey with black spots with white around the spots, which are surrounded by light grey rings. They can live for up to 30 years. The population of nattiit varies but there are approximately 2,000,000! Nattiit breed annually from April to May. Known predators of nattiit are nanuit (polar bears), tiriganiat (Arctic foxes), and Inuit.

Where Nattiit Live

We are looking at nattiit that live specifically in the areas where Inuit live and consume nattiit, but nattiit are located all across the Arctic. 

Nattiit live in Arctic waters and are commonly found on ice floes. Floes and pack ice are used for resting, pupping, and moulting. Nattiit do not like to come ashore but prefer to inhabit areas near the breathing holes they create in the ice or ice cracks so they can escape predators easily. Arctic sea ice is integral to their survival.

A of the map of the world with blue highlighted areas in the Arctic oceans where the ringed seals live.
Many images of the mapping of nattiit can be found online through a quick Google search (Image from Wikipedia).

How Inuit Use Nattiit/Innovations

Inuit use all of the nattiq. Nattiit are a major element of Inuit diet and clothing. To get a better understanding of how nattiit are used, we will look at how Inuit hunt, consume, and use them.

Students learn the different parts of the nattiq, which parts are eaten, how each part of the fur is used, and for which garments.

Show the students the nattiq poster and discuss the body parts of the nattiq. Ask students which parts of the nattiq they have eaten.


Sealskin is adapted to the Arctic environment. The fur is waterproof and very warm. Inuit have observed this and use the fur to make warm, waterproof clothing, such as kamiik (boots), parkas, amautiit (a baby carrier), and pualuk (mittens). Inuit have also used uqsuq (nattiq fat) to fuel the qulliq (the light source and cook top inside an igloo). 


Nattitt are rich in nutrients. Nattiit contain vitamin A, which helps humans see in the dark and provides protection against infection; vitamin D, which builds strong bones; omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain development and help the heart and blood vessels work properly; zinc, which helps in fighting infections and healing wounds; iron, which is essential for blood; and selenium, an antioxidant that prevents cells from being damaged.


Using sealskin scraps has taken new forms of crafting, from creating jewelry, like earrings and necklaces, to making small pouches and bags, all of which contributes to the Inuit economy.

Completion of ‘L’  Portion of KWL Chart

  • Task 1 – Students complete the “L” part of their KWL by adding a few points about what they learned in this lesson
  • Task 2 – Using the nattiq worksheet, have students label the parts of the nattiq

Nattiq Anatomy Tech Activity

After learning about the parts of the nattiq, divide the class into small groups or pairs. Assign each group one part of the nattiq and challenge them to display its name in Inuktitut on their micro:bit. 

Follow the activity guide below.

Introduction to the micro:bit

What Is the micro:bit?

The micro:bit is a computer that can fit in your pocket! You can use a computer to add code to the micro:bit and program it with many different commands.

Code is the instructions we give computers to make them execute tasks!

You can program this mini-computer with your computer and the MakeCode editor. You can use the online editor, or the offline editor that is installed on your computer and loaded onto a USB. Follow the steps below to learn how to code and use your micro:bit.

Parts in Your Kit

  • Micro:bit
  • AAA Batteries & Battery Holder
Image of the Micro:bit battery holder and triple A batteries
  • USB Cord
Image of the USB to microUSB cable
  • Jumper Cables
Image of rainbow coloured connection cables
  • Edge Connector Breakout Board
Image of edge connector breakout board

Other Supplies Needed

  • Computer or laptop
  • MakeCode editor

Get to Know Your Micro:bit

  • Put the two AAA batteries into the battery holder
  • Match the + and – symbols to put each battery in correctly
  • Plug the battery pack into the white box at the top left corner of the micro:bit

Plug it in and be surprised!

  • Read the “Hello” message on the micro:bit display
  • Follow the arrow and press Button A
  • Follow the arrow and press Button B
  • Shake the micro:bit and watch the display
  • Play chase the dot by tilting your micro:bit
  • Clap five times

Take a Closer Look at Your micro:bit 

Diagram of front and back of micro:bits

The micro:bit has inputs (ways to take in information) and outputs (ways to send out information). Now you are all set to learn how to code your micro:bit!

After they have learned about the parts of the nattiq, divide the class into small groups or pairs. Assign each group one part of the nattiq and challenge them to display its name in Inuktitut on their micro:bit. 

Step By Step

  • Go to the micro:bit MakeCode editor online or the offline editor on your computer (if you use Microsoft Windows you will find the MakeCode offline editor app on your computer desktop and in the list of your applications on your computer)
Home page of the MakeCode editor
  • Create a New Project.
Close-up of the New Project button
  • Give your project a name, like “Nattiit Anatomy”
“Create a Project” pop up menu with blank section to enter your project’s name
  • In the centre of the screen, you will find the Block Palette (basic, input, music, LED, loops, variables, math). Each block of code will provide a different command in your project. To begin, click on the blue Basic block tab and find: “show string”. The show string” command will list a series of characters. In this project it will show your assigned ringed seal anatomy word 
 highlighted ‘show string “Hello”’ block
  1. Drag the “show string” block onto the coding area. The coding area is the large empty space to the right of the Block Palette. It is an area for storing blocks that run the project. Blocks can be dragged from the Block Palette into the Code Area and arranged to form scripts 

Note: Computers do exactly as we tell them to do. The “forever” block is a loop block.  It tells the computer to keep running the code we put inside the block—forever!

an empty ‘start’ loop beside an empty ‘forever’ loop with a ‘show string “Hello”’ below that is highlighted
  • Drag the “show string” block into the space inside the forever block
an empty “start” loop beside a “forever” loop with the ‘Show String “Hello” ‘ block inside
  • Click on the Play button to see the word “Hello!” scroll across the display of the simulator. The simulator is to the left of the Block Palette and is where you can see your code running after you have programmed it in the coding area. You may need to click on the restart symbol to start your code
Front of Microbit with the play button highlighted
  • Double click on the word “Hello!” inside the text bubble and type the Inuktitut word you were assigned. Press enter. Make sure you see double quotation marks around your word like this: “your word”
Close up of a ‘forever loop’ block with a ‘show string “Siggu” ’ block inside in MakeCode Arcade
  • Now look at the simulator to see if you can see your word scrolling across the display of LED lights! (In the image below, you can see the “S” for Siggu) 
Micro:Bit with LED lights lit up in the shape of a letter ‘S’
  • Connect the mini USB cord from your kit to connect your micro:bit to the computer
Back of Micro:Bit with a USB attached to it
  • Click on the Download button. This will transfer (flash) your code file to your micro:bit (a flash or flashing is a term that describes updating the code on a chip). The single LED light on the back of your micro:bit will flash when the code is downloading. When it is finished flashing (downloading) the file, your code will automatically start running on your micro:bit
Close up of the Download button in the MakeCode Editor
  • When the code has finished downloading, you will see your word scrolling across the LED display! 
Micro:Bit with led lights lit up showing the start of a word

Troubleshooting: If your word isn’t showing, check your code. Next, try pressing the reset button on the back of your micro:bit. 

Diagram of the back of a Micro:bit with parts labelled

Congratulations! You are now a micro:bit coder! 

Activity Wrap-Up

Once all the students have completed this activity, have them hold up their micro:bits on the correct location on the seal anatomy diagram.


Digital Memory Game Activity

Welcome to the ocean conservation memory game! Here we will learn why ocean conservation is important and learn about nattiit!


This lesson plan originally appeared in the sixth issue of Root & STEM, Pinnguaq’s free print and online STEAM resource supporting educators in teaching digital skills