Resources

For Teachers, Folklorists, Academics, and Beyond

Folk arts contribute not only to students’ understanding of cultural traditions but also to their ability to think critically, gather and analyze evidence, and express their ideas and interpretations through personal creativity. Folklife and the tools of the folklorist can support learning in all subjects, including the arts. Folk arts are uniquely suited to explore the ways in which traditional art forms reflect the history, culture, geography, and values of different cultures and communities.

Everyone has folk traditions — expressive customs practiced within a group and passed along by word of mouth, imitation, and observation. Calling on the work of folklorists and the field of folklore in the classroom educates, motivates, engages, and fosters the creative expression of students and powerfully links them to their communities. Integrating the study of folk arts into existing curricula awakens self-awareness in students of their own roles as tradition bearers, their families as repositories of traditional culture and history, and their communities as unique resources.

(Text above adapted from: Local Learning: A Folk Arts Integration Handbook)

Local Learning is committed to fair use and open access of educational materials. We, as Publisher, also look to protect the work that we publish from unauthorized, commercial use. Our Local Learning resources housed on the Local Learning website and at  www.JFEpublications.org are freely available to individuals and institutions. We license all work with the exception of only alternatively copyrighted photos or media that are expressly labeled under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, CC-BY-NC-SA. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you the Author and us the Publisher, and license their new creations under the identical terms.

Note: These resources are shared as a service and include historic texts that don’t always reflect the current views of Local Learning. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about the readings or activities in our library.

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Learning Activity and Lesson Plans

Cultural Stewardship Conversation Guide

When we identify and protect our important ways of life and cherished places that make up our cultural ecosystem, we strengthen vital relationships to each other and the wider world.

Museum Observation Field Journal

Consider a museum an important text that deserves careful reading. Before visiting a museum, inventory your assumptions about what you expect, even if you are familiar with the institution. Think about where it is, how it sits on the landscape, its relationship to the natural and built environments.

Dress to Express: National Heritage Fellows' Portraits Unit

Access portraits portraying artists who have mastered their art forms through years of study with elders and family members and have received the NEA National Heritage Fellows award to learn more about the relationship between dress and culture. This unit includes classroom-ready exercises, worksheets for students to study their own fashion choices, and ideas for local research that connect learners with their community.

Then and Now

This activity invites you to think about how objects in your life have new uses and meanings.

Exploring Portraits, Dress, and Identity in Asian Art

What can art objects from distant times and places express about the identity of the people and the cultures depicted in them?

Exploring Dress, Culture, and Identity in American Indian Objects and Dress

How would you feel if someone (outside your identity group) used your identity design references in a clothing line? What might change how you feel about this use?

Tradition, Innovation, and Hawai'ian Cultural Identity in Lau Hala Papale

How is the weaving and wearing of lau hala papale (hats) connected to Hawai’ian history, identity, natural resources, and culture?

Collecting!

Kids are natural collectors, piling up treasures like seashells and Pokémon cards. Likewise, museum curators deal with many types of collections, from paintings to train engines. Curators organize collections for public exhibits, showcasing what they have learned about objects. By thinking like a curator, how would you organize one of your collections for a home museum?

Dress to Express

Our clothes are important cultural elements. We use them for many reasons. They are practical, fun symbols of our identity. Let’s find some surprises while exploring how we Dress to Express.

Research and Readings

Artists as Educators

Our featured artists consider educating young people essential to their lives as artists. Their stories of sharing a specialized skill or passing on knowledge of a culture or tradition offer insights into effective practices and ways of teaching and learning that are underutilized. They collective make the case for preserving pedagogical diversity in education. Read […]

Teachers' Guide to Local Culture

This guide was written to help educators prepare their students to attend the “Hmong at Heart” exhibit at the Madison children’s museum, but is relevant to those wanting to learn more about Hmong communities or visiting museum exhibits featuring cultural traditions. If your students, even briefly, explore their own family or community culture, they will […]

Kids' Guide to Local Culture

This Kids’ Field Guide to Local Culture will help you observe, interview, and understand people. It includes tools and skills for people watching and ways of presenting your research.

An Accessible Aesthetic

The folk artist is very much like a curator and the community is a living museum. In unpacking this metaphor, Kirshenblatt-Gimblett explores how the folk artist learns various traditions and then teaches adults and children to develop strong ties to their communities and cultural history.