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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 VIII Outline:


Lesson 1: On the Job

Lesson 2: Home Work (this page)

Lesson 3: Grown-ups at Play







Unit 8 The Worlds of Work and Play
Lesson 2 Home Work

The floors were scrubbed with water that had to be brought in from the well and the detergent we used was a strong washing powder called "Gold Dust." Really its name was "Gold Dust Twins. . . ." The menfolk of the family made this scrub from a rectangular piece of board that had been bored with an auger. It had about eight holes in it and a hole in the middle for the handle. Then into those holes were drawn shucks. The floor was scrubbed with that scrub and washing powder, and then it was carefully rinsed with two or three clear waters. Then all that was swept up with a straw broom. The straw brooms were made in the fall from straw gathered in the field and bound into brooms. After the water had been swept off, they wiped up with a cloth, generally a fifty-pound flour sack. I recall as a child skating across the floors with that cloth to wipe up the excess water.

--Vivian Womack, St. Helena Parish

Grade Level


Curriculum Areas

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.

E-1A-E4 Discussing and determining the process for making economic decisions. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

E-1A-E10 Identifying some of the economic institutions, such as households and banks, that make up the economy. (1, 4)

N-5-M Applying an undertsanding of rational numbers and arithmetic operations to real-life situation. (1, 2, 3, 4)

N-7-M Selecting and using appropriate computational methods and tools for given situations involving rational numbers (e.g., estimation, or exact computation using mental arithmetic, calculator, computer, or paper and pencil). (2, 3, 4)

D-1-M Systematically collecting, organizing, describing, and displaying data in charts, tables, plots, graphs, and/or spreadsheets. (1, 2, 3, 4)

D-2-M Analyzing, interpreting, evaluating, drawing inferences, and making estimations, predictions, decisions, and convincing arguments based on organized data (e.g., analyze data using concepts of mean, median, mode, range, random samples, sample size, bias, and data extremes). (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

D-6-M Demonstrating the connection of data analysis, probability, and discrete math to other strands and to real-life situations. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

2. Students identify domestic craft experts in their communities and other regions of the state and consider gender and age roles in household management.

E-1A-E8 Determining how the development of skills and knowledge relates to career opportunity and economic well-being. (1, 4, 5)

E-1A-M4 Analyzing the role of specialization in the economic process. (1, 2, 4)

E-1A-M5 Giving examples of how skills and knowledge increase productivity and career opportunities. (1, 3, 4, 5)

3. Students research domestic crafts of Louisiana's Native American tribal groups today and in the past.

E-1B-E5 Identifying the major goods and services produced in the local community and state. (1, 3, 5)

H-1A-M2 Demonstrating historical perspective through the political, social, and economic context in which an event or idea occurred. (1, 2, 3, 4)

H-1A-M4 Analyzing historical data using primary and secondary sources. (1, 2, 3, 4)

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

4. Students demonstrate domestic crafts or skills that they know or have learned during their fieldwork research.

H-1C-E1 Describing the people, events, and ideas that were significant to the growth and development of our state and nation. (1, 3, 4)

H-1B-E1 Describing and comparing family life in the present and the past. (1, 2, 3, 4)

H-1B-E2 Relating the history of the local community and comparing it to other communities of long ago. (1, 2, 3, 4)


Time Required

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.


Technology Connections

Internet Resources

Louisiana Voices Venn Diagram

Louisiana Folklife Articles

Louisiana's Three Folk Regions

Making a Home in the Delta: Women and the Domestic Environment

Textile Uses in the Home of Central Louisiana Czechs

Traditional Quiltmaking in Louisiana

Adaptation Strategies

Creole State Exhibit

Louisiana Folklife Photo Gallery

Keeping It Alive

Gladys Clark apprenticeship on Acadian weaving/spinning

Azzie Roland apprenticeship on split oak basketmaking

Louisiana Indians in the 21st Century

Louisiana Folk Artist Biographies

Quilts and Quiltmaking in America 1978-1996, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Crossroads of the Heart: Creativity and Tradition in Mississippi, Mississippi Arts Commission

British American Quilting, Quilter Elaine Carter

Afro-American Quilting, Quilter Hystercine Rankin

In the Garden: Traditional Culture and Horticulture in Alabama

Student Worksheets

Job and Skills in My Home Worksheet

Gimme a Clue Worksheet

Domestic Jobs Game

Native American Crafts Worksheet

Division of Labor Worksheet Page 1, Page 2

Taking Notes / Making Conclusions Worksheet

Assessment Tools

Occupational Fieldwork Checklist

Evaluation Tools/Opportunities


1. Gimme a Clue Worksheets
2. Learning Center notebooks
3. Occupational Fieldwork Checklists

4. Taking Notes / Making Conclusions Worksheets


1. Essays about Native American craftspeople
2. Division of Labor Worksheets Page 1, Page 2

3. Oral presentations on division of labor
4. Computer slide shows or oral presentations on quilting


1. Division of Labor Worksheets Page 1, Page 2
2. Taking Notes / Making Conclusions Worksheets
3. Gimme a Clue Worksheets

4. Essays about Native American craftspeople
5. Maps of gardens


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 gardeners.

Children learn traditionally by observation and imitation from everyone in their households. Some domestic skills have been overlooked as areas of expertise or dismissed as "women's work," yet require practice, patience, and skill, whether baking biscuits, building a shed, tatting lace, or managing a scout troop. As in work outside the home, elements of play enter domestic work as well. Quilting can be entertaining as well as useful; building something by hand is satisfying; telling stories while doing household chores makes the work go faster; planning and tending a garden offer year-round aesthetic and practical rewards. Home chores also embody personal aesthetics, from decorative preferences to completing tasks "the right way." For example, folding bath towels or replacing paper towels in the kitchen dispenser "correctly" generate many a family discussion since people often disagree about how to fold bath towels or whether to tear paper towels from underneath or from the top of the roll. Ask students if they have noticed this or other preferences at home. You can tie this lesson to Unit VII Lesson 4

To Prepare

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.

A. Game Center. Print the Domestic Jobs Game. Cut out the pieces and put them into a box or folder. Have older students follow the directions to play the game. They must show who they think would do these jobs in a household by placing the job names on the different sheets. After placing all game pieces, they must place them in different categories to show that many jobs are not age or gender specific. If you have examples of any of the crafts or magazine pictures of any of the jobs, include them in the center.

B. Louisiana Native American Research Center (Computer Station). Students explore the online essays, biographies, and crafts of Native Americans in Louisiana. Have them read the overview in Louisiana's Three Folk Regions. Then they should access the Native American Crafts Worksheet and follow the links to research crafts. They will find links to tribes through Native American Organizations in Louisiana. Collect resources, including photos and webpages from the Louisiana Folklife Photo Gallery (search for "Native American") for this center. See Unit VIII Resources and Louisiana Folklife Bibliography (search by tribe). Ask students to examine a certain number of resources and write observations in the center notebook.

C. Craft Information Center. Display an array of handmade crafts (nothing fragile) to compare with commercially made products such as brooms, baskets, crab traps, quilts and other needlework, tools, and so on. If possible, bring handmade and commercially made versions of a similar object to class. Students may have identified local crafts by asking family members or neighbors about their domestic skills and can contribute objects. Ask students to write about a certain number of the crafts in the center notebook. Include printouts or summaries of the articles on the apprenticeships of Acadian weaver Gladys Clark and split oak basketmaker Azzie Roland and images of crafts from the Creole State Exhibit, or ask students to read them on the computer. (Older students will be able to read more than younger students.) You might design a table or Venn diagram for them to complete. They might use some of the observation activities from Unit VII Lesson 1 and record them in the center notebook. If these are written above your students' reading ability, refer to the Adaptation Strategies for ways to adapt and modify them to levels that students can understand.

D. Economics Center. Print out several webpages listed in Technology Connections above and place them in the center notebook. Working in groups, students must look through the pages and find information to enter on Page 1 of the Division of Labor Worksheet. If more than one computer is available, this could be done as a computer activity. Page 2 allows students to compute and compare the minimum wage value for various household tasks.

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.

2. Look for examples of domestic crafts and skills in the literature you read all year. Create a class master list to track your findings, noting which crafts are no longer practiced and which are still practiced today and which may or may not have been practiced in Louisiana.

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?



Unit VIII Resources

Unit VIII Outline


National Endowment for

            the Arts.

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