Here are 10 web sites dedicated primarily to traditional American culture and folk life. Some sites celebrate folk life from other parts of the world, too. Sites specifically designed for educators include:
1. Family Folklore (http://educate.si.edu/migrations/seek2/family.html). Includes lesson plans for showing students how to collect their families’ folk histories through words, photographs, and mementos.
2. Louisiana Voices: An Educator’s Guide to Exploring Our Communities and Traditions (http://www.crt.state.la.us/FOLKLIFE/edu_home.html). Takes students beyond interviews and music collections to explore games, stories, and craft projects. Shows step-by-step how to help students with quilting or building and using traditional folk toys, such as wooden tops and bingo games.
3. My History Is America’s History (http://www.myhistory.org). Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, this site helps students focus on their family’s history to learn more about American history. It provides excellent ideas for interactive projects.
4. Story Arts Online (http://www.storyarts.org). This site introduces children to traditional storytelling, using examples of folk stories that can be listened to online. It includes ideas for teachers to help students develop their own stories about their lives and communities.
5. CARTS: Cultural Arts and Resources for Teachers and Students (http://www.carts.org). Provides information about and links to many cultural programs designed for K-12 students.
6. Montana Heritage Project (http://www.ed heitage.org). Includes various student-created projects that record and preserve parts of Montana’s “Old Frontier” heritage. Gives good instructions for teachers who want to show students how to create multimedia projects about their own communities or heritage.
General folk life and folklore sites that will appeal to students include:
7. American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress (http://lcweb.loc.gov/folklife). The congressionally chartered American Folklife Center offers 11 different folklife collections online, many of them focused on regional musical traditions. The collections feature photographs and recorded histories of people who lived in these various communities. The site also includes “A Teacher’s Guide to Folklife Resources for K-12 Classrooms,” an excellent folk primer.
8. Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (http://www.folklife.si.edu). Similar to the Library of Congress site, this destination houses folklife collections. The Smithsonian’s focus is worldwide, and it puts on a number of “virtual festivals” that provide the sights and sounds of traditional ceremonies, such as funerals, weddings, luaus, etc.
9. American Folklore Society (http://www.afsnet.org). This site it a good initial place to begin to understand the importance of folklore. It provides links to various local folklore societies.
10. Citylore (http://www.citylore.org). A New York-centered organization that supports numerous cultural and arts programs online, including poetry and essays about cultural traditions and holidays.