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Folklife & Folk Art Education Resource Guide

Community and Classroom Cultural Survey

A cultural survey of students and their families is a great way to learn about the folklore of your students and the community. It is also a great way to identify potential guest tradition bearers for a classroom.

Have your students help you create the survey questions. To get started, give examples of questions that are helpful in discovering others' traditions and customs to help them learn more about the cultural diversity of their neighborhood. In a Nevada folklife curriculum, folklorist Andrea Graham suggests questions like: "What do you do to get well when you have a cold?" "Can you think of a practical joke or prank that you have pulled or that has been pulled on you?" "Have you been to a family reunion, wedding, or anniversary party? How did you celebrate?"

Type up the survey form. (You could enlist your students help in preparing the survey.)

Have your students use the survey to interview their adult family members or friends. If your school has portable tape recorders, send a tape recorder home with your students so they can conduct a tape recorded interview. For information on conducting a tape recorded interview see: The Tape-Recorded Interview: An A Manual for Field Workers in Folklore and Oral History, Edward D. Ives. U of Illinois P.

Completed surveys will help you and other teachers understand the cultural diversity and demographics of the community. See the following examples of surveys constructed by fourth and fifth grade students at South Clearfield Elementary.