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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  
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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

Lesson 3, Activity 1: Naming Traditions

Lesson 3, Activity 2: Family Pictures

Lesson 3, Activity 3: Family Treasures (this page)

Unit III Resources




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

Lesson 3 The Family: Louisiana Family Folklore

Activity 3 Family Treasures


Decorative towels that hung over the wash basin gave the greeting "Dobre Jitro" (Good Morning). Pillowcases and bed curtains commended one to sleep sweetly. Popular kitchen cloths . . . contained proverbs familiar to the Czechs such as "Without Work You Cannot Eat Kolach," or "Where the Czech Housekeeper Cooks There Is Good Living," and "Good Food and Good Drink Will Preserve the Quality of Your Life.

--Rosie A. Walker, Rapides Parish

Grade Levels



Curriculum Areas

English Language Arts, Social Studies


Purpose of Lesson

Students identify family treasures and research their context. They organize artifacts into various categories and research traditional Louisiana artifacts online.


Lesson Objectives/Louisiana Content Standards, Benchmarks, and Foundation Skills

1. Students identify family treasures and learn that all families have special objects made special by the stories behind them.

CL-1-D4 Identifying and describing social, geographic, and historical factors that impact cultural practices. (3, 4)

ELA-7-M2 Problem solving by using reasoning skills, life experiences, accumulated knowledge, and relevant available information. (1, 2, 4)

ELA-7-M2 Problem solving by using reasoning skills, life experiences, accumulated knowledge, and relevant available information. (1, 2, 4)

2. Students explore and explain the context of a family treasure.

CL-1-D2 Identifying cultural practices that give rise to commonly held generalizations and/or stereotypes. (2, 3, 4)

CL-1-D7 Identifying social customs related to religion, family life, folklore, and holidays. (3, 4, 5)

ELA-5-M3 Locating, gathering, and selecting information using graphic organizers, outlining, note taking, summarizing, interviewing, and surveying to produce documented texts and graphics. (1, 3, 4)

H-1A-E2 Recognizing that people in different times and places view the world differently. (1, 3, 4)

3. Students draw inferences about objects and categorize objects.

ELA-7-M1 Using comprehension strategies (e.g., sequencing, predicting, drawing conclusions, comparing and contrasting, making inferences, determining main ideas, summarizing, recognizing literary devices, paraphrasing) in contexts. (1, 2, 4)

VA-AP-E2 Recognize and respond to concepts of beauty and taste in the ideas and creations of others through the study of visual arts

VA-AP-M2 Recognize that concepts of beauty differ by culture and that taste varies from person to person


Time Required

2-5 class periods



Art supplies and tools to create an exhibit. Print out and duplicate any worksheets or rubrics that you will be using.


Technology Connections

Internet Resources

American Treasures, Library of Congress

Creole State Exhibit

Folklife and Fieldwork: An Introduction to Field Techniques

Keepsakes and Dreams, An Online Journal of Immigrant Stories

Louisiana Studies in Historic Preservation

Louisiana Folk Artists Biographies

Caring for Photographs

Caring for Photographs: General Guidelines

Student Worksheets

Louisiana Treasures Worksheet

What's the Context Worksheet

Assessment Tools

Treasure Presentation Rubric

What's the Context Worksheet


Evaluation Tools/Opportunities


1. Journal Writing
2. Portfolios
3. What's the Context Worksheet


1. Treasure Presentation Rubric
2. Oral presentations


1. Electronic slide shows
2. Graphs
3. Completed worksheets


Background Information for the Teacher

One person's trash is another's treasure. Usually the story behind an object, rather than its monetary value, makes it special to a family. Rag rugs, dented spoons, battered decoys, Mardi Gras throws, or worn baby blankets may be as special to a family as fine jewelry or china. Some students' family treasures will reflect something about Louisiana traditions and regions. As students look at their own and classmates' family treasures, they'll gain a sense of what families hold dear -- memories of loved ones, hard times, good times, misadventures, and blessings. Although some family treasures may themselves be folk or traditional, many are not inherently folk art. The folklife may be found in the context of the object, its place, meaning, and stories within the family.


To Prepare

Read the introduction to Unit III Lesson 3. Bring in a family treasure to share, and discuss its context with students. Where do you keep it, what is it made of, why do you like it, what is its use and value, what are its origins, whom do you associate with it? Does it say anything about being from Louisiana? These questions help frame what folklorists call the context of a tradition. Students take a letter home explaining this lesson and letting parents know that students can create representations of objects they would prefer not leave home (see Letter to Parents and Caregivers in Unit II ).

Choose one or several of these assessment tools/opportunities to use wtih students during this lesson and prepare the required materials:

Journal Writing - Have students keep journals during the time of the lesson where they record procedures and results of their investigations, observations, hypotheses, and inferences about the information collected. Encourage them to also record questions and thoughts that occur as they work through the activities.

Portfolios - Students compile portfolios containing worksheets, graphs, printouts of Internet pages, printouts of multimedia slide shows, drawings, etc. Remind them to refer to these items when preparing their exhibits or sideshows.


4th Grade Activities

1. Share one of your special family objects, giving students the context for it by answering the questions on What's the Context Worksheet. Explain to students the term context and how it can reflect something about Louisiana traditions and regions.

2. Ask students to bring in, sculpt, draw, or photograph a special family object. Distribute copies of the worksheet and ask them to have family members help them complete it by providing information about the treasure.

3. In groups or as a class, share the objects, their stories, and their contexts as preparation for oral presentations or as a follow-up that leads to writing, publishing, and illustrating a report.

4. The worksheet may also be filled out neatly by hand or on a computer to accompany a classroom exhibit of family treasures or representations of treasures.

Technology Option: Develop a template or stationery file of What's the Context Worksheet. Have students type their answers after each question. Students could explore the use of different fonts, sizes, styles, and colors to make the printed document more interesting for the classroom exhibit.

5. Discuss themes or categories that objects fall into and display results in graphs or charts or make a timeline showing the ages of the objects. For example, some family treasures may be traditionally made and specific to Louisiana. Or choose categories such as material, age, color, size.

Technology Options: Use a spreadsheet to make the graphs.

6. In another class period, ask students to find an object in the online Creole State Exhibit that appeals to them, then brainstorm individually about the object's use, stories, value, what it says about Louisiana. They may use Louisiana Treasures Worksheet or research on their own. Students should take these ideas and write or tell a story about the object or research the object and write or present a short report on it. They may use the What's the Context Worksheet as a research tool if they choose. Assess their final products with Treasure Presentation Rubric if you choose.

7. Have students share what they learned about the context of each student's presentation. Explain that they are to make specific "I learned . . ." statements pertaining to traditions, cultures, regions, or families.

8. Create a class family treasures multimedia slide show. Allow students to plan the exhibit of family treasures. They might also include enlarged images downloaded from the Creole State Exhibit that they have chosen to write about and display the stories as well. Students must decide how to categorize and display objects, choose student guides who can tell visitors the stories of the objects, design and produce invitations to the exhibit opening, and invite parents or another class.


4th Grade Explorations and Extensions

1. Invite the principal and other staff members to contribute family object stories throughout the year.

2. Discuss folktales, books, historical events, or legends in which a special family object plays a role. Visit Keepsakes and Dreams, an Online Journal of Immigrant Stories to find some of these stories. Make lists or journal entries that tell what kinds of things are special to people and why.

3. Use the What's the Context Worksheet to study the context of other artifacts, from things in museums to online images.


8th Grade Activities

1. Repeat Step 1 from the 4th grade activities above, sharing one of your special family objects, giving students the context for it. Older students may be more interested in sharing their own special objects rather than family treasures.

2. Ask students to share objects and stories in groups or as a class, emphasizing the importance of context--the who, what, when, where, and how of cultural expressions. They may turn their oral presentations into written assignments using What's the Context Worksheet.

3. Ask students to create a class montage, collage, or digital exhibit of objects and stories. They may use the What's the Context Worksheet in research, filling in details for various treasures. To prepare for this task, have them do the following:

Visit American Treasures of the Library of Congress to find out how Thomas Jefferson categorized his books into three types of knowledge, corresponding to three faculties of the mind: Memory (History), Reason (Philosophy), and Imagination (Fine Arts).

Follow the links to each section to see the types of materials that fit into each category.

Notice the collages on each of the pages. Explain to a partner how the parts as well as the whole help define the category.

Divide their collected treasures into Thomas Jefferson's categories of Memory, Reason, and Imagination.

Create the exhibit.

Refer to the Performance Elements (identification, problem solving, interpreting and evaluating information, and disseminating information) in the Treasure Presentation Rubric while creating the exhibit to ensure that the task requirements are being met.

4. Repeat Step 4 from 4th grade lesson above and complete the Louisiana Treasures Worksheet, using objects from the online Creole State Exhibit to prompt a writing assignment. While 4th graders were asked to make up a story about objects that intrigued them, 8th graders can research and report on the actual use and context of their objects in groups or as a class.

5. Teacher scores the finished product using the Treasure Presentation Rubric.


8th Grade Explorations and Extensions

1. Research preservation and archival steps families can take to ensure their family treasures stay in good shape. Visit the online Folklife and Fieldwork: An Introduction to Field Techniques on what to do with results, and print out the hints. Or invite a museum curator or other expert in to demonstrate how to preserve and restore keepsakes.

2. Study the treasures of Louisiana's cultural groups. Go to the Louisiana Folk Artist Biographies website, and select an ethnic group. Study some treasures and their makers. Use the What's the Context Worksheet as a research tool if you choose.


Unit III Resources

Unit III Outline


National Endowment for
            the Arts.

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