Learning Activities and Lesson Plans

Learning Locally

Learning at home? This page is designed to highlight activities and ideas for learning very locally–in our own homes and neighborhoods. New activities are being added often. We will announce when new entries are added on Facebook. Follow us there for updates! Share your favorite Learning Locally activities with us there.

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Activities

Paying attention to a cultural element like bread tells us about ourselves as well as others. Think about bread broadly—from matzo to pancakes, tortillas to crackers! Here are some activities to do on your own or with others to find art in your daily life.
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?
From song lyrics to predictions, we use weather lore every day. Have you ever worn your pajamas inside out in hope of a snow day? What sayings do you use to predict the weather? Do you have stories about storms or rainbows or really hot days? This activity looks at a variety of ways we are all folk meteorologists.
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.
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.
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?
What can art objects from distant times and places express about the identity of the people and the cultures depicted in them?
Mapmaking is a wonderful way to engage family members in looking closely at how each experiences where they live. Family members may discover that each sees their neighborhood differently, that one includes a place that the others never noticed, or that certain neighborhood spaces, such as a vacant lot, are valued by one and considered an eyesore by others.
This activity offers a creative way to interact with favorite folk songs. Follow these directions to tap into familiar folk songs and give them your own, unique spin by remixing them!
Games are fun to play at any age and tell us a lot about our families, friends, and communities. There are many cool ways to think about and study games.
Our beliefs about health and wellness are part of our personal and family folklore. Collecting cures, home remedies, and health sayings reveals how much a part of daily life our folklore about health is.
Local Learning’s virtual residencies with National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellows take us into the communities and lives of master folk artists.
Local Learning’s virtual residencies with National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellows take us into the communities and lives of master folk artists.
Local Learning’s virtual residencies with National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellows take us into the communities and lives of master folk artists.
Local Learning’s virtual residencies with National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellows take us into the communities and lives of master folk artists.
Local Learning’s virtual residencies with National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellows take us into the communities and lives of master folk artists.
Face to face or distant, celebrations feature cultural elements that we find very meaningful, such as special foods, music, gifts, jokes, clothes. This activity invites you to relish the fun of celebrations by analyzing them and consider how celebrations during the pandemic are the same and different from how they usually occur.
By interviewing family and community members to document their stories, songs, crafts, and skills, we encounter deep local learning, which we can record and share in many ways. Visit our Inquiry Resources to go more in-depth!
Cemeteries may seem unlikely fieldtrip destinations, yet they offer intriguing clues about history and local culture and opportunities to conduct primary research and practice documentation skills such as note taking, sketching, and photography.
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.
So much music surrounds us, we may not always be aware of it. This activity invites you to find and celebrate the music that you hear all around you—all around the year.
There is mystery in every job, even those of students, whose jobs are to study and contribute to school, family, and community life. How do we learn the secrets of doing a good job at our work? Folklife! Occupational culture is one of the dynamic areas of Folklore Studies. By closely observing work spaces and interviewing people about their work culture, we make fascinating discoveries.
Use the Seasonal Round lesson plan to introduce students to your classroom or school culture, as well as their own. Students can learn about themselves, their families, their region, and the world by examining the seasonal round.
Everyone sings. This means everyone knows some songs. Singing alone or with others can make us feel playful, help us through tough times, and bring us together.
Many people in the United States celebrate the national Thanksgiving holiday by sharing a special meal. Although there is a stereotype about turkey and dressing as the iconic meal, we all have different ideas about what foods we want on Thanksgiving Day. Turkey or tamales? Mashed potatoes or sweet potato casserole? Collard greens or green bean casserole? Pecan pie or apple pie? What would your favorite Thanksgiving meal include? Who would share the meal?
This activity invites you to think about how objects in your life have new uses and meanings.
How is the weaving and wearing of lau hala papale (hats) connected to Hawai’ian history, identity, natural resources, and culture?
This activity will help you identify some of your important folk groups and traditional knowledge. You will then create a virtual background that may be used on Zoom or other meeting platforms as a way to share something about ourselves in these online spaces.