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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  
Educator's Links  
Educator's Guide Glossary  
Educator's Guide Credits  
Educator's Opportunities For Professional Development  
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Louisiana's Living Traditions: Articles, Photos and Virtual Exhibits about Louisiana Folklife  

Unit IX Outline:


Part 1: The Seasonal Round

Lesson 1: Birthday Calendars

Lesson 2: Constructing Personal Calendars

Lesson 3: Folklife Around the Year (this page)

Part 2: The Cycle of Life

Lesson 1: Birth and Early Childhood

Part 2, Lesson 2: Rites of Passage

Part 2, Lesson 3: Elders' Ways







Unit IX
The Seasonal Round and The Cycle of Life

Part 1 The Seasonal Round

Lesson 3 Folklife Around the Year and Around the State

One of the most important things to do [for an Iranian Jashneh-Aide-a-Norus or Celebration of the Holiday of the New Day] is to prepare a Haft Sin which consists of seven items needed for daily life and whose names all begin with the "s" sound in the Farsi language. Some traditional items for the Haft Sin are: Sabzeh, the first growth of green shoots of barley, wheat, or lentil; Samanou, a sweet. . .; Sib, apples; Sekeh, coins (gold or silver--that you may be prosperous in the new year), these are often placed on the Koran Sepan, burned in daily life as an incense to prevent disease, illness, and bad luck; Sombol, hyacinths, the first spring flowers; and Saw'at, a clock.

--Fereshdeh Rasti, East Baton Rouge Parish

Grade Level


Curriculum Areas

English Language Arts, Social Studies


Purpose of Lesson

Students research how seasonal changes in Louisiana affect their own lives and the folklife of their communities and the state. They investivate weather, crops, celebrations, and environmental changes through the year.


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

1. Students learn how the seasonal round affects not only themselves but the folklife of a community and the state.

ELA-4-M5 Listening and responding to a wide variety of media (e.g., music, TV, film, speech). (1, 3, 4, 5)

ELA-7-M3 Analyzing the effects of an author's purpose and point of view. (1, 2, 4)

CL-1-B4 Identifying social and geographic factors that impact cultural practices. (1, 4)

CL-2-D1 Identifying tangible and intangible products and symbols of the culture (e.g., toys, dress, types of buildings, foods) using authentic materials. (1, 3)

CP-2-B4 Identifying contributions of the target cultures to the native culture (e.g., food, architecture, clothing, arts. (1 ,4)

CP-2-D3 Comparing social customs of the native and target cultures (e.g., religion, family life, folklore, and holidays). (1, 3, 4)

2. Students investigate differences in the seasonal round in the regions of Louisiana, including celebrations, festivals, customs, crops, weather, music, and environmental changes through the year.

CP-1-B3 Identifying idiomatic expressions in both the native and target languages. (1, 4)

H-1A-M6 Conducting research in efforts to answer historical questions. (1,2,3,4)

H-1A-M1 Describing chronological relationships and patterns. (1,3,4)

H-1A-M3 Analyzing the impact that specific individuals, ideas, events, and decisions had on the course of history. (1,2,3,4)

ELA-5-M6 Interpreting graphic organizers (e.g., charts/graphs, tables/schedules, diagrams/maps, flowcharts). (1,2,3,4,5)

3. Students collect folk beliefs about the weather.

CL-1-B5 Demonstrating a comprehension of common words, phrases, and idioms that reflect the target cultures. (1)

ELA-5-M5 Citing references using various formats (e.g., end notes, bibliography). (1, 4)

4. Students research a seasonal celebration or activity in depth, including fieldwork as well as research in books and on the Internet.

ELA-5-M2 Locating and evaluating information sources (e.g., print materials, databases, CD-ROM references, Internet information, electronic reference works, community and government data, television and radio resources, audio and visual materials). (1, 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)

ELA-6-M2 Identifying, comparing, and responding to a variety of classic and contemporary literature from many genres (e.g., folktales, legends, myths, biography, autobiography, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, novels, drama). (1, 2, 4, 5)

5. Students produce documentation presentations that show the relationship between a region of the state and the celebrations practiced there.

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)

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

ELA-7-M4 Distinguishing fact from opinion and probability, skimming and scanning for facts, determining cause and effect, inductive and deductive reasoning, generating inquiry, and making connections with real-life situations across texts. (1, 2, 4, 5)

ELA-4-H6 Participating in a variety of roles in group discussion (e.g., active listener, contributor, discussion leader, facilitator, recorder, mediator). (1, 4, 5)

ELA-5-M4 Using available technology to produce, revise, and publish a variety of works. (1, 3, 4)

ELA-4-H4 Speaking and listening for a variety of audiences (e.g., classroom, real-life, workplace) and purposes (e.g., awareness, concentration, enjoyment, information, problem solving). (1, 2, 4, 5)


Time Required

2-5 class periods



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.


Technology Connections

Internet Resources

Louisiana Folklife Articles

Louisiana Celebrations Rooted in Tradition

If Your Eggs are Cracked, Please Step Down: Easter Egg Knocking in Marksville

All-Day Singing and Dinner on the Ground

Dance for a Chicken: The Cajun Mardi Gras

"Take me to the Water": African American River Baptism

The Varieties of Mardi Gras

Adaptation Strategies

Creole State Exhibit -- Ritual, Festival, and Religion

Louisiana Folklife Photo Gallery

Gourd Birdhouses in Wisner

Fruitland Vegetable Stand

Mardi Gras on the Net

National Weather Service - Louisiana Weather

Wisconsin Weather Stories

Student Worksheets

Folklife Bingo Worksheet

Louisiana Festival Worksheet

Seasonal Events Web Quest

Assessment Tools

Louisiana Voices Venn Diagram, Blank

Seasonal Events Fieldwork Checklist

Rubric for Collaborative Group Fieldwork Research


Evaluation Tools/Opportunities


1. Rubric for Collaborative Group Fieldwork Research - graded by students
2. Seasonal Events Web Quests

3. Chart or album of weather beliefs
4. Louisiana weather charts
5. Pictures of landscape changes
6. Seasonal Change Bingo Cards - designed by students
7. Louisiana Festival Worksheets

8. Seasonal Events Fieldwork Checklist
9. Interviews in English, French, or Spanish


1. Rubric for Collaborative Group Fieldwork Research - graded by teacher
2. Rubric for Collaborative Group Fieldwork Research - audience comments
3. Completed Seasonal Change Bingo Cards
4. Seasonal rounds with seasonal events added


1. Chart or album of weather beliefs
2. Louisiana weather charts
3. Pictures of landscape changes
4. Seasonal Change Bingo Cards
5. Interviews in English, French, or Spanish


Background Information for the Teacher

In addition to holidays and special events, seasonal changes affect our work, recreation, foodways, beliefs, customs, even our worldviews. Students see how seasons change the landscape, but they may not have considered how other aspects of their lives and the life of their community change according to the season. Working individually or in teams, ask students to choose a topic below and investigate seasonal change through one or more of these perspectives, or lenses. Some students may be more interested in the science and geography aspects of these topics, while others care about customs, sayings, and stories. All students' interests can be accommodated in a culminating class project such as a radio show, scrapbook, book, webpage, skit, or exhibit. Here are some perspectives to consider:

Agricultural activities, sayings, and beliefs
Play, recreation, hobbies, and sports
Weather sayings and beliefs
Religious practices and beliefs
Celebrations, festivals, and other seasonal gatherings and events
Seasonal customs
Landscape and land use
Geography, ecology, and environment
Foodways and sayings and beliefs about food
Clothing and hairstyles
Traditional crafts and decorative arts

To Prepare

Gather books and other resources to help students research. Read some of the Louisiana Folklife Articles listed in Technology Connections above. If possible, find an almanac to bring to class. Determine how thoroughly you want students to investigate these topics. Students could conduct fieldwork among workers in outdoor occupations, hunters and fishermen, cooks, craftspeople, celebration organizers, friends, and family members. They could limit work to collecting sayings and beliefs, or they could conduct more extensive research in books, on the Internet, and through fieldwork. This activity lends itself well to collaborative group work. Bookmark images from the Creole State Exhibit -- Ritual, Festival, and Religion. If using Venn diagrams, Venn Diagram shows how to use them for comparisons.

Print and distribute the Rubric for Collaborative Group Fieldwork Research and go over it with students. Explain that they should refer to it periodically to be sure they are accomplishing the tasks listed, and they will assess their own participation in the collaborative group using it at the end of the lesson. You will evaluate the groups' work using the rubric at the end of the lesson as a summative measure.


4th and 8th Grade Activities

1. Begin by brainstorming about ways students think seasonal change affects their lives. What sounds differ, for example? Maybe they hear the chimes of an ice cream truck, school bus brakes, firecrackers, or mockingbirds. Add some of the topics from the list of perspectives above if they don't raise them. Ask students to choose some of these topics for their research and discuss methods they could use: books, the Internet, talking to each other, talking informally to family members and neighbors, conducting a fieldwork project to collect data, or inviting someone to class to interview about how seasons influence their work or foodways, for example. If you have decided to have them work in collaborative groups, designate the group members and let each group choose one of the topics and decide which research method they will use. Alternatively, each member in the collaborative group could use a different type of research. Distribute the Rubric for Collaborative Group Fieldwork Research and discuss it thoroughly with the students. Make sure that they understand that the performance elements explain their expected behavior, and that these indicators should guide their work as they progress through the lesson. See Unit II for more guidance on fieldwork.

2. Investigate how seasons differ in regions of Louisiana through newspaper, Internet, radio, or TV weather reports. They might also interview students in another region in an online regional culture exchange (see Unit IV Lesson 1). Students can find weather data at National Weather Service - Louisiana Weather Data and record them on a chart. In addition to weather, study how seasonal changes affect daily life, celebrations, work, play, agriculture--any of the topics from the list above that interest students.

Technology Option: Students can use word processing software to create a table for Louisiana weather.

3. Ask students for examples of beliefs about the weather: "Red sky at night, sailor's delight," or "A ring around the moon means rain will come soon." "If it rains on St. Medard's Day, it will rain for 40 days and 40 nights." (St. Medard was a French bishop, honored on June 8.) Farmers and gardeners still rely on folk beliefs about weather and make predictions based on natural observations. Ask students to collect such beliefs and predictions from older people and choose a way to present results: chart, computer slide show, or class master list. This could be part of a fieldwork project that gives students practice designing and conducting fieldwork (see Unit II). They may also conduct research in almanacs such as the Ladies' Birthday Almanac, Louisiana Almanac, or Old Farmer's Almanac. Print and distribute the Seasonal Events Fieldwork Checklist and have students use it as a guide.

4. What changes in the landscape mark seasonal change? Purple martins returning to gourd birdhouses? Staking out a backyard garden or preparing fields for planting? The appearance of vegetable stands? Mardi Gras beads draped over utility lines? Repairing boats in dry dock? Ask students to draw a picture or series of pictures of their community landscape that reflect the seasonal round or to download images from the Louisiana Folklife Photo Gallery and arrange in a classroom exhibit.

5. Ask students to design a Seasonal Change Bingo Card using the suggestions with the blank Folklife Bingo Worksheet, creating columns for seasonal round topics such as celebrations, sayings, customs, sounds, beliefs, foodways, religious practices, and so on. Use part of a class period for students to play their bingo games in small groups or as a class. They may seek out students who can give examples and ask them to initial the appropriate square.

6. Working individually or in teams, students should thoroughly research a seasonal celebration or activity such as rural or urban Mardi Gras, Kwanzaa, planting and harvesting various types of crops, Stock Day or rodeos, trail rides, festivals, pow-wows, Vietnamese New Year, hunting or fishing seasons, parades, and so on. This may be done in depth with students photographing, interviewing, and mapping events (see Unit II) or through the Internet, regional class exchanges, books, and newspapers. Projects could include photographs, drawings, maps, music, recordings or transcriptions of interviews, student essays, brochures, computer slide shows, radio program, podcast, or classroom seasonal round museum. Louisiana Folklife Articles, Louisiana Folklife Photo Gallery, and the Creole State Exhibit -- Ritual, Festival, and Religion offer lots of information. You may choose to use the Seasonal Events Web Quest, which links to these resources, as a tool to launch their research or as an assignment. Students may use the Internet to match appropriate festivals with their hometowns on the Louisiana Festival Worksheet. For correct answers, see the Louisiana Festivals Worksheet Answer Sheet (PDF Version). If these are written above your students' reading ability, refer to the Adaptation Strategies a for ways to adjust and modify them to levels that students can understand.

7. Ask the collaborative groups to work together to score their Rubric for Collaborative Group Fieldwork Research.

8. Have students present their research projects. During the presentations, ask audience members to refer to the Rubric for Collaborative Group Fieldwork Research to evaluate how well the performance indicators were met. Then ask them to complete the Feedback Statements section.


4th and 8th Grade Explorations and Extensions

1. Research related seasonal activities in other states or nations and compare using Venn diagrams or oral or written reports. See Unit IX Resources for many publications on seasonal celebrations around the world.

2. Interview someone in another language about a seasonal celebration. Using a seasonal round calendar makes the process easier. This guide has French and Spanish versions of the Seasonal Round Worksheet.

3. Research traditional music or crafts related to seasonal celebrations. Start with the Creole State Exhibit--Ritual, Festival, and Religion and the Louisiana Folklife Photo Gallery. Share research in a computer slide show or podcast.

4. Compare Mardi Gras in different regions of Louisiana and around the world. In some countries this ancient pre-Lenten tradition is known as Carnival. Read a comparison of different Louisiana Mardi Gras celebrations in The Varieties of Mardi Gras. Read about rural Mardi Gras in Southwest Louisiana in Dance for a Chicken. See Unit IX Resources for books on Carnival and other celebrations around the world. Elementary students in New Orleans contributed to Mardi Gras on the Net. Teachers, use Adaptation Strategies to adapt these adult-oriented resources to your students' reading level, if necessary. Share research in multimedia reports.

5. Design a celebration to mark a seasonal change in your classroom. Brainstorm with students, collaborate with music and art specialists, and invite parents. Document the event, including the planning stages, with photographs, video recording, and notes to include in an exhibit or notebook in conjunction with enacting the celebration.

6. Trade information about seasonal round celebrations, activities, and environmental changes in your region with students in another region through an Internet student exchange connection.

P>7. Learn about seasonal shifts in another region by exploring Wisconsin Weather Stories. Share a personal weather story with a friend or classmate or ask a family member for weather stories.


Unit IX Resources

Unit IX Outline


National Endowment for

            the Arts.

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