Using Folklife in the Classroom

photo of Birdie Real Bird working 
	in the classroom with students

An understanding of folklife can open young minds to the richness of their own culture and to a new awareness of and appreciation of the traditions of others. It is a tool that enriches the study of history and culture by adding new avenues for interpretation and new layers of meaning, making it relevant to the lives of students.

“…the residency itself was more than just a series of art projects. Its focus on contemporary and historical Indian culture struck a positive chord in us all.”
Jim Bruggeman, Principal of Irving School in Bozeman

The lessons on this website are designed to teach students about what folklife is, why we create it and what it tells us about ourselves and our neighbors. Once students learn to recognize the existence and function of customs and creative expressions in the history of their community and in the context of their everyday lives, they begin to make connections between themselves and other cultural groups that exist in Montana and around the world. For this reason, folklife is an excellent tool to teach students the value of diversity.

On this Website

Through this website, teachers can access activity ideas that represent a sampling of Montana's rich folklife. Our hope is that teachers will expand upon these ideas and utilize additional folk artists in our registry, all of whom are available for classroom visits. We have included best practices of successful programs in Montana to give teachers models from which to draw ideas and to illustrate the positive results that teachers have experienced from using folklife in the classroom.

For more information about folklife education, we have provided web links to national and state organizations that are doing wonderful work in this area. Please browse these other websites for additional ideas and inspiration.

Activity Ideas

The activity ideas outlined on this website can help teachers satisfy Montana's content standards in social studies, art, communication arts and library media. Each lesson details the applicable content standards and can be adapted to meet specific grade levels and needs. The links provided within each section are intended to complement the lesson and provide teachers with additional, in-depth information and lesson ideas.

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