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Louisiana Voices Educator's Guide  
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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 VII Outline

Introduction - Material Culture: The Stuff of Life

Lesson 1: Reading Artifacts

Lesson 2: Teaching and Learning Through Objects

Lesson 3: Introducing Louisiana Foodways

Lesson 4: Family Foodways

Lesson 5: Louisiana Regional Foodways (this page)

Lesson 6: Louisiana Crafts and Domestic Arts

Unit VII Resources





Unit VII Material Culture: The Stuff of Life

Lesson 5 Louisiana Regional Foodways


In November, we start grinding canes. I start making syrup as soon as I get the juice. Squeezing the canes is not the problem. The problem is to cook the syrup, you're in trouble from then on. I cook as much as six hours for one pot of syrup.

--Edwin Normand, Avoyelles Parish

Grade Levels


Curriculum Areas

English Language Arts, Social Studies


Purpose of Lesson

Students improve research techniques to locating, selecting, and synthesizing information from a variety of texts, media, references, and Internet resources to acquire knowledge of regional foodways traditions throughout Louisiana from the past and present. They learn that geography and regional culture influence foodways and they extend the exploration of context and foodways.


Lesson Objectives/Louisiana Content Standards Benchmarks, and Foundation Skills

1. Students locate, select, and synthesize information from a variety of texts, media, references, and technological sources to acquire knowledge of foodways traditions throughout the state.

ELA-1-M3 Reading, comprehending, and responding to written, spoken, and visual texts in extended passages. (1, 3, 4)

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-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-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)

2. Students connect geography with foodways.

G-1A-E2 Locating and interpreting geographic features and places on maps and globe. (1, 2, 3, 4)

G-1A-E3 Constructing maps, graphs, charts, and diagrams to describe geographical information and to solve problems. (1, 3, 4)

G-1B-E2 Identifying and describing the human characteristics of places, including population distributions and culture. (1, 3, 4)

G-1B-E4 Defining and differentiating regions by using physical characteristics, such as climate and land forms, and by using human characteristics, such as economic activity and language. (1, 3, 4)

3. Students learn from family members and others in the community through researching the context in which food traditions are created, communicated, and adapted in their communities and statewide.

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

G-1C-E4 Identifying and comparing the cultural characteristics of different regions and people. (1, 2, 3, 4

G-1D-E2 Describing how humans adapt to variations in the physical environment. (1, 2, 3, 4)

G-1A-M3 Organizing and displaying information about the location of geographic features and places by using mental mapping skills. (1, 2, 3, 4)

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

H-1A-E3 Identifying and using primary and secondary historical sources to learn about the past;

H-1D-M1 Describing the contributions of people, events, movements, and ideas that have been significant in the history of Louisiana. (1, 3, 4)

H-1A-H3 Interpreting and evaluating the historical evidence presented in primary and secondary sources. (1, 2, 3, 4)

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)


Time Required

2-5 class periods



State and local maps, colored pencils, drawing paper. 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

The Creole State Exhibit

Louisiana Folk Regions Map: Three Major Subregions

Louisiana Folklife Articles

All-Day Singing and Dinner on the Ground

Customs, Traditions, and Folklore of a Rural, Southern Italian-American Community

From Custom to Coffee Cake: The Commodification of the Louisiana King Cake

From Evangeline Hot Sauce to Cajun Ice: Signs of Ethnicity in South Louisiana

Louisiana Cooking: A Way of Life

Louisiana's Food Traditions: An Insider's Guide

The Piney Woods, excerpt from Folklife in the Florida Parishes

Creole State Exhibit. See also Making Tamales in Northwestern Louisiana

Adaptation Strategies

Louisiana Department of Economic Development (See Sites and Demographics)

Louisiana Agriculture Summary

Market Bulletin Archive, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry

Acrobat Reader

Creativity and Resistance: Maroon Cultures in the Americas, Foodways section

Wisconsin Folks

Student Worksheets

Foodways Internet Search Worksheet

Agricultural Products Worksheet

Assessment Tools

Louisiana Voices Venn Diagrams, Blank

Foodways Conclusions Worksheet, Page 1, Page 2


Evaluation Tools/Opportunities


1. Foodways Internet Search Worksheet, Page 1 - completed
2. Louisiana foodways maps
3. Venn diagrams


1. Foodways Internet Search Worksheet, Page 2
2. Foodways Conclusions Worksheet


1. Louisiana foodways maps
2. Audio or video recordings
3. Venn diagrams
4. Visual displays of Piney Woods terminology
5. Louisiana foodways essays
6. Downloaded Louisiana Market Bulletin files


Background Information for the Teacher

The following is an excerpt from C. Paige Gutierrez's "Introduction to Louisiana Traditional Foodways" in Louisiana Folklife: A Guide to the State, edited by Nicholas R. Spitzer, Louisiana Office of Cultural Development, 1985, p. 151.

Along with music, food is perhaps the most pervasive symbol of Louisiana's traditional heritage. Its local use to describe Louisiana culture and values ranges from the ribald expression "Gumbo, Go-Go, and Do Do" to allegedly describe Cajun lifestyle, to Jimmie Davis's sacred song of hearth and home, "Suppertime;" and of course there is the Hank Williams classic "Jambalaya." Yet the transition from traditional subsistence foodways in the swamps of South Louisiana and the wooded northen hills has barely been examined in all the romanticization of Louisiana's food traditions. While living off the land is still a powerful symbol in Louisiana, the reality of local food sources, or the mingled African, Spanish, French, English or Indian methods of using them, is only beginning to be understood in ways that go beyond traditional nutrition studies or the all-pervasive regional cookbooks. It is fascinating to note on the latter subject, in a state struggling with literacy, that, next to the Bible, a cookbook is often the most revered text.

The term foodways, as it is now used by writers in various disciplines, has a broad definition. The study of foodways may include the production, distribution, preparation, preservation, serving, and eating of food, as well as the social, symbolic, psychological, and behavioral aspects of food. Food serves as nourishment, but specific foods and food habits are part of our social, technological, economic, religious, aesthetic, and communicative systems. Thus food has meaning beyond that of mere survival, making its significance in human life both varied and complex.

Like other folkways, cooking and related food events vary from region to region, from group to group, and from practitioner to practitioner, but within a discernible folk community, a distinct aesthetic governing foods is present. And, like other folk practices, foodways do not exist in isolation; they influence and are influenced by other factors of their cultural setting.


To Prepare

Think about what foodways you consider traditional to your region of Louisiana. Review the Louisiana Folklife Articles listed in Technology Connections above. Print out and bookmark those you plan to use. Think about the relationship between local foodways and waterways, agriculture, and land use of your region. Accumulate local and state maps, pictures, postcards, and articles on Louisiana foodways. The online Louisiana Folk Regions Map: Three Major Subregions will be useful. Print out or bookmark The Piney Woods for 8th graders. If students will be doing Internet research, determine whether they need instruction in this skill before beginning the lesson. If using Venn diagrams, Venn Diagram shows how to use them for comparisons.


4th Grade Activities

1. With a map of the state delineating regions and parishes that indicate waterways, swamps, farmland, and so on, have students locate their community or parish on the map. Ask them to identify the rivers, lakes, and other waterways. Identify farmland, grazing land, and parks. By talking with family members and others in the community, students must answer the questions below. To extend the research to a larger portion of the state, divide the class into groups and assign each a region or several parishes. Ask students to look at the Louisiana Folk Regions Map: Three Major Subregions. Print and duplicate the Foodways Internet Search Worksheet for students to record what they find. The worksheet could also be used for non-Internet research by skipping the lines where URLs are recorded. If students have had no experience with search engines, they may need a lesson before beginning this activity. However both search engines listed on the worksheet accept full phrases or sentences or questions, making it simple for beginners.

2. Compile results on a large map or on individual student maps. Students may work individually or in teams to design a map, including a legend and a compass rose, which could involve a graphic relating to Louisiana foodways. Students may also research to publish accompanying essays and drawings.

Technology Option: Students could make a large digital map showing Louisianan foodways. The large printed map can be posted on the wall or bulletin board, and further findings can be pinned to the map, or strings can be attached from the map to reports, pictures, and regalia mounted on the board around the map.

3. Identify a food producer or distributor to visit the classroom. Brainstorm questions for students to ask so they may learn how the person learned a skill, worst experience, funniest experience, scientific and mathematical concerns, and environmental or geographic issues. They may record the visit on audio or video or take notes. See Unit II Lesson 3 and Unit VIII on occupations.

4. Print and duplicate the Foodways Conclusions Worksheet - Page 1. Ask students to choose a region of the state and fill in the blanks on page 1 with facts that they have learned through the activities in this lesson. For the last line, they must think about the three facts together to come to a conclusion. Have students work in small groups to explain and justify their conclusions. Then ask all students to choose one conclusion presented in their group and write why they do or don't agree on Foodways Conclusions Worksheet - Page 2 of the worksheet.


4th Grade Explorations and Extensions

1. Share pictures, postcards, and articles on foods indigenous to the state. Examples include Creole tomatoes, crawfish, catfish, crab, sugar cane, yams, mirliton, oranges, strawberries, corn, butterbeans, sausages, peaches, pecans, beer, poultry, and so on. Research and label which town, parish, or region each item would be found on your maps.

Technology Option: Access the Louisiana Agriculture Summary Web page. Select parishes from the list and find the agricultural products produced there. Add these to the maps.

2. If engaged in a regional culture exchange with students in another part of the state (see Unit IV Mapping the State), compare regional food production results in Venn diagrams, charts, or short essays.


8th Grade Activities

1. Ask students to read the selection by Joy Jackson about foodways of The Piney Woods orally or silently. Use Adaptation Strategies to adapt this adult-oriented resource to your students' reading level, if necessary. The objective is for students to design and construct a visual display to include key concepts and terminology from this reading. Instruct students to design a picture or series of pictures that will explain the main ideas presented in this reading. The goal is not the artwork but a better understanding of the material. After drawing pictures to remember what they read, students should explain the illustrations to the class or in small groups. On a map identify the three Piney Woods parishes described: Tangipahoa, St. Helena, and Washington parishes.

2. Ask students to write a short essay relaying what they have learned about Louisiana regional and family foodways; what they now think the term foodways includes; foods specific to each region of the state: North Louisiana, South Louisiana, New Orleans; and discoveries about their own food traditions. They can learn more about the three major folk regions in Unit IV Lesson 1.

3. Have students download the most recent Market Bulletin Archive from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture webpage by following their directions on the Agricultural Products Worksheet. They will need Acrobat Reader to open it. Read the farm products that are for sale, noting towns where they are sold. They should then find the towns on a Louisiana map and decide which regions they are in. Have them complete the charts for each of the regions, listing several different items for sale and the towns where they are sold. When the charts are complete, students may write statements that generalize about the foods sold in each region by completing this sentence: In the __________________ region, ______. _____, _______, ________, and _________ are being offered for sale. That leads me to believe that __________________________.

4. Adapt online articles about Louisiana food traditions using Adaptation Strategies listed in Technology Connections above, Louisiana Folklife Articles -- Material Culture/Crafts and Foodways.


8th Grade Explorations and Extensions

1. Read more about Louisiana foodways in the Louisiana Folklife Articles listed in the Technology Connections above and in the school and public libraries as well as cookbooks (see Unit VII Resources). Divide into three teams to research each region of the state: North Louisiana, South Louisiana, and New Orleans. Identify these regions on the Louisiana Folk Regions Map: Three Major Subregions. Combine results on a large map of the state illustrated with drawings, pictures, and images from the Creole State Exhibit. See also Making Tamales in Northwestern Louisiana. Teachers, if you want students to use these resources and they are written above their reading level, use Adaptation Strategies to build lessons around them. See also A Common Pot: Creole Cooking on Cane River.

2. Compare Louisiana foodways with food traditions of another state or another part of the world in an essay or portfolio. You may use the Foodways Internet Search Worksheet for searches in other states or countries by using only the Search Engine URLs. Wisconsin Folks features pasties (a meat/potato fried pie), cheesemaking, and using foods indigenous to Wisconsin. To see the African influence on Louisiana foods, compare Louisiana and Maroon foodways throughout the Americas with the Foodways section of Creativity and Resistance: Maroon Cultures in the Americas, a Smithsonian exhibit.


Unit VII Resources

Unit VII Outline


National Endowment for
            the Arts.

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