activity 1 activity 2 activity 3

Louisiana Voices Educator's Guide  
Getting Started With This Guide  
Study Guide Summary  
Outline of the Study Guide  
Study Unit I Defining Terms  
Study Unit II Fieldwork Basics  
Study Unit III Discovering the Obvious: Our Lives as "The Folk"  
Study Unit IV The State of Our Lives: Being a Louisiana Neighbor  
Study Unit V Oral Traditions--Swapping Stories  
Study Unit VI Louisiana's Musical Landscape  
Study Unit VII Material Culture-The Stuff of Life  
Study Unit VIII The Worlds of Work and Play  
Study Unit IX The Seasonal Round and Life Cycles  
Educator's Links  
Educator's Guide Glossary  
Educator's Guide Credits  
Educator's Opportunities For Professional Development  
Join The Community
Louisiana Folklife website Homepage  
Louisiana Folklife Program Home  
Louisiana's Living Traditions: Articles, Photos and Virtual Exhibits about Louisiana Folklife  

Unit III Outline

Introduction: Our Lives as "The Folk"

Lesson 1:The Child: Games and Play Today and Yesterday In Louisiana

Lesson 2: The School--School Culture Across Louisiana

Lesson 3: The Family--Louisiana Family Folklore (this page)

Lesson 3, Activity 1: Naming Traditions

Lesson 3, Activity 2: Family Pictures

Lesson 3, Activity 3: The Family--Louisiana Family Folklore

Unit III Resources




  Unit III
Discovering the Obvious: Our Lives as "The Folk"

Lesson 3 The Family: Louisiana Family Folklore


My daddy was a carpenter and my brother also became a carpenter later on. . . . I have cousins that were carpenters too, so the carpenter trade was in the family. I don't know exactly how.

--Amdee Castenell, Orleans Parish


The families we are born into or grow up in constitute our first folk groups. Like families around the world, Louisiana families may be as small as two people or extend to great-grandmere, Auntie Louisa, and eleventy-hundred cousins. Each family creates and passes on its own unique folklore: naming traditions, customs, expressions, stories, foods, beliefs, mementos, music, and so on. By exploring family folklore, students see traditional culture in action in familiar, everyday settings. They will learn things they didn't know about their families, and they will see themselves and family members as important tradition bearers, carrying their special folklife into the future, where it will continue and evolve. "That's how we did it when I was little."

When studying family folklore, remember that some students and families may not want to share their family lore for reasons such as privacy, beliefs, difficult circumstances, or customs. Line up some alternative adults for students to interview. Other teachers, school staff, senior citizens, and volunteers make good partners. Despite the difficulties many children face, students and their classmates usually handle them well. Embarking on an extensive study of family folklore requires a trusting atmosphere in the classroom and a teacher willing to share his or her own lore. Such study is worth the effort because students gain new perspectives on factors they share with other students, find ways they are unique, and realize their families are tradition bearers and part of community history.

Family folklore is useful across the disciplines: testing family folk beliefs in science; measuring the volume of family treasures such as teapots and baskets or learning fractions from family recipes in math; listening, writing, and speaking in public in language arts; geography, regions of the state, cultural differences and similarities, and changes in social studies; family songs in music; family objects and aesthetics in art.

Take our ideas and build on them. Use the themes of names, photos, and treasures in Activities 1-3, below, as models for your own themes such as family foodways, stories, or customs (see Unit VII for a lesson on family food traditions and Unit V for lessons on family heroes and personal experience narratives). Develop family folklore portfolios, choosing some or all of the activities described here or others as well, such as collecting family expressions, foods, or songs. A presentation to class members' families is another way to culminate these activities. Choose topics that you feel comfortable sharing and that fit into your curriculum. We offer activities on naming traditions, family photographs, and family treasures. There are many genres of family stories and family traditions you can choose from. Most importantly, students will view themselves and family members as important tradition bearers, and families will deepen their understanding of the curriculum and their connection to schools.


Unit III Resources

Unit III Outline


National Endowment for
            the Arts.

Folklife in Louisiana Home | Living Traditions Home | Louisiana Voices Educator's Guide
Overview of Louisiana's Traditional Cultures | Folklife Program Introduction |
Planning and Funding Folklife Projects | Opportunities for Professional Development
Links | Credits | Contact Us/Link to Us

Louisiana Division of the Arts | Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism
© 1999-2003 Louisiana Division of the Arts,
PO Box 44247, Baton Rouge, LA 70804, tel 225-342-8180

Questions about this site? Contact Maida Owens,