Unit 8 The Worlds of
Work and Play
English Language Arts, Social Studies
Purpose of Lesson
By examining domestic work, skills, and crafts, students find arenas of traditional learning in their own homes and daily lives. They identify experts at home and in the region whose skills contribute to building family life and community. Domestic crafts vary from home to home and regionally, and students will study domestic crafts around the state. They examine how gender and age relate to domestic work and analyze where they themselves fit in the scheme of work around the home.
Lesson Objectives/Louisiana Content Standards, Benchmarks, and Foundation Skills
1. Students focus on work, responsibilities, and skills associated with home life in their communities, other regions of the state, and other time periods.
2. Students identify domestic craft experts in their communities and other regions of the state and consider gender and age roles in household management.
3. Students research domestic crafts of Louisiana's Native American tribal groups today and in the past.
4. Students demonstrate domestic crafts or skills that they know or have learned during their fieldwork research.
2-5 class periods
Learning center supplies, including a notebook or folder for each center, handmade and commercially made crafts, resources on Native Americans of Louisiana. Print out and duplicate any webpages, worksheets, or rubrics that you will be using. If your students will be doing fieldwork, you may need digital cameras, audio recorders, or video recorders in addition to notepads and pencils as well as appropriate fieldwork forms. Print out and duplicate any worksheets or rubrics that you will be using.
Background Information for the Teacher
Work around the home is an integral part
of domestic and family folklife, conveying skills, values, ways of
behaving, responsibility, and connectedness. Gender and age often play a
big role in assignment of tasks and responsibilities. Households harbor
master craftspeople, cooks, repair experts, caregivers, musicians, or
Think about the division of labor in your own household as well as in your family of origin and among neighbors and friends. How do skills and responsibilities break down along gender and age lines? What special skills do you have? Have you had family members who were expert at making something or managing home life? Look at the Domestic Crafts and Decorative Arts sections of the Creole State Exhibit and search for crafts and craftspeople in the Louisiana Folklife Photo Gallery. What crafts and skills might be specific to your region? Consider a classroom visit by an expert in a domestic craft or skill, perhaps someone students identify through fieldwork. Review suggestions for learning centers in the lesson and prepare these or other centers. Try to locate some handmade domestic crafts to bring in for students to handle. Print and copy webpages, worksheets, and rubrics that you will use. If using Venn diagrams, Venn Diagram shows how to use them for comparisons. If you will be inviting a community member to the classroom, see Unit II Lesson 3 for guidance.
4th and 8th Grade Activities
1. Share information about domestic skills and jobs in your home or from your childhood to initiate a discussion about students' domestic roles. Ask them what jobs typically go to women, men, and children. Discuss why students think certain people have certain skills or responsibilities around the home. What do they think about gender roles, for example? Ask if anyone at home has a special domestic skill, from home repair to sewing. Ask students to read and fill in as many parts as they can on the Job and Skills In My Home Worksheet, then take it home to have relatives add to it. As the lesson progresses, it can be used as a reference sheet.
2. Print and make copies of the Gimme a Clue Worksheet. This worksheet uses the "cloze technique" to develop comprehension skills by making students use their knowledge of how language works (sentence structure) and what the passage means (the overall contextual meaning). It should not be used as a test, but as a device to help students learn how to use their background knowledge and language clues to come up with plausible answers. It is important to tell them that many of the words will be new and difficult, many words could be considered "correct" in most of the blanks, and that they will learn a lot by sharing the varied responses the class generates.
Use the Gimme A Clue Answer Sheet (PDF Version) as a language extension by having students check their own worksheets, then discuss the answers in small groups. They should be encouraged to share their metacognition clues by telling how they knew what part of speech should go in a blank, how information in other parts of the passage gave them clues, and which new words and ideas they learned.
3. Set up the following learning centers and divide the class into four groups. Over the course of several days, let students rotate around the centers and do the activities. You might have a notebook at each center with charts, Venn diagrams, or comment sheets for students to fill out along with articles and downloaded webpages. If you have other resources such as reference books or picture books, crafts, and so on, keep them in the center as well.
4. Ask students to interview a family member or neighbor about domestic crafts or skills. Check the jobs listed in the Domestic Jobs Game as well as images in the Creole State Exhibit and Louisiana Folklife Photo Gallery for examples. Design the interviews to meet your curriculum needs, developing an indepth fieldwork survey or asking students simply to talk to people and report results. You may want to have students use the Occupational Fieldwork Checklist to ensure that they are remembering all the important steps of the interview process. They should ask how the person learned the craft, to whom they are teaching the craft, what materials are required, length of time it takes to make, and so on. As students report back, work with them to determine what final product to create, for example, portfolios, videos, or perhaps demonstrations by a visiting parent or craftsperson.
5. Native American crafts of Louisiana are highlighted among the Domestic Crafts and Decorative Arts sections of the Creole State Exhibit and the Louisiana Folklife Photo Gallery. Choose a Native American craft to study in greater depth as a class, individually, or in teams. Students may start with the Native American Crafts Worksheet and continue research in the school and public libraries. Refer to the Native American Organizations in Louisiana list.
6. Gardening is a major activity of many adults and young people throughout Louisiana, from the balconies of New Orleans to half acres planted with heirloom flower seeds in North Louisiana. The climate and longtime tradition of tending to plants mean that every community has expert gardeners. The aesthetics of gardening differ among folk groups. Some older people may mix flowers and vegetables in a patch. Some people in rural areas keep their yards free of grass and sweep patterns in the dust. Bright flowers planted inside painted tractor tires ornament many a farmhouse driveway. Some African Americans may include broken jars or pottery among plants as part of a tradition rooted in Africa. Organic gardeners will use certain plants such as marigolds to help protect other plants from pests. (See Making a Home in the Delta: Women and the Domestic Environment, which students may read online or as a printout. For 4th graders, you or a student might read portions of the article. Older students can read the entire article.) You can also compare the gardens featured in In the Garden: Traditional Culture and Horticulture in Alabama with Louisiana gardening traditions.
After discussing these facts with students, assign the Taking Notes / Making Conclusions Worksheet. Students must walk around a neighborhood and observe the outsides of homes and gardening styles. Among issues for students to investigate are how front and back yards differ; common plants, colors, and arrangement of yards and gardens; homes that look like an expert gardener lives there; yard art and other decoration. If students identify expert gardeners, invite them to class for students to interview. How much have they learned traditionally by observation and imitation over time? From popular magazines or books? From formal agricultural extension classes? Do they collect heirloom seeds? Why do they prefer certain colors and patterns? Do they plant or harvest according to any beliefs? How do they use what they grow? Why do they continue to garden?
4th Grade Explorations and Extensions
1. Organize demonstrations of things that
you and other students do well around the house or have learned while
interviewing family members and neighbors for this lesson.
3. Draw a map of a flower or vegetable garden, a front or back yard, or a balcony or window box in your neighborhood. Compare your map with classmates' maps. Discuss how your maps differ. Hang the maps in a classroom exhibit.
8th Grade Explorations and Extensions
1. Through informal interviewing at school, identify students who are expert in some everyday domestic skill such as styling hair, mowing the yard, ironing a shirt, making a bed the "right way," programming the VCR or computer, caring for and training pets. Invite them to demonstrate in class. Classmates should ask them how they learned, what tricks of the trade they've picked up, whether they can teach someone to do this, how much practice it takes.
2. Interview older people about the domestic skills and crafts they learned as children and compare them with your responsibilities around the house.
3. Browse the online collection Quilts and Quiltmaking in America 1978-1996 from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and the essays on the Mississippi website Crossroads of the Heart on African-American quilter Hystercine Rankin and British American quilter Elaine Carter. Then identify and interview quilters in your community. Compare your region's quilts with those online. Use Documenting Quiltmaking by Susan Roach to formulate the questions you want to ask. Prepare a report, computer slide show, or oral presentation on contemporary quilting based on the online collection or your community fieldwork. Teachers, if you want students to use these resourcees and they are written above their reading level, use Adaptation Strategies to build lessons around them.
4. Map a domestic situation illustrating where women, men, family elders, children, pets, or visitors would typically be. Or draw a picture of people at work in a home in a different time period on one half of a page and a picture of people at work in a home today on the other half. Mount a classroom exhibit of maps an drawings. Access the Clementine Hunter or Sarah Albritton pages and locate pictures of domestic work. Ask students to draw their own renditions of the scenes, either with art supplies or on a computer with drawing software.
5. Write a short essay or produce a skit about who is responsible for preparing for a holiday in your home or a neighbor's home. Consider what happens outside as well as inside. Illustrate the essay with drawings or photos. If you want, extend the essay to consider how roles of responsibility change as children age or families undergo changes such as new babies, a job switch, or caring for aging relatives.
6. Write and illustrate a short essay or poem about who is responsible for childcare in your home or a neighbor's home. What skills make a good caregiver of children, sick family members, or pets? Who would you want to take care of you if you were sick and why? Who do you take care of and how?