Tools for Teaching

Tools for Teaching from Smithsonian Folkways provides ideas and resources for educators to inspire their use of Folkways music from around the world. Information about these sounds and the cultures that create them are a valuable resource to courses in history, geography, language arts, social studies, visual arts-and of course music and dance.
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Learning 12-bar blues form though singing and theory provides students a medium for discussion of the blues. Students will have the opportunity to write and perform their own 12-bar Blues verses.

Smithsonian Folkways - Lead Belly Sings for Children - Lead Belly

Soran Bushi, a Japanese work song, allows for exploration into Japanese culture (work song/environment/nature) as well as exploration in creative composition/ arranging. This unit takes students on an aural journey from the boats of the Hokkaido fishermen to their own perspective & interpretation, giving students a sense of pulse and rhythm as they compose and arrange, inspired by Japanese traditional music.

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Students will be introduced to the three pieces of Aboriginal music from the Northern Territory of Australia. They will perform rhythms with body percussion and on rhythm instruments. They will listen for particular melodic patterns and show them through drawing as well as singing on neutral syllables. They will act out the story of a song.

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Explore rural nomadic life in Mongolia and the highly impressionistic music and arts of the Central Asian steppes. Students learn to imitate sounds of the natural environment through improvised dance, instrumental performance, and throat-singing.

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This lesson uses music from Romani performers to explore basic musical concepts. Students show ternary (ABA) form in movement, sing a Russian folk song in English, practice showing phrase structure and finding and showing beat, and discriminate a rhythmic pattern at various tempi.

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GRADES: 3-5; 6-8; 9-12; K-2 Immerse yourself in the lively mood of Samba and Carimbo. Learn the basic steps and dance along with the music. Identify the instruments and play along with others. Learn about the relationships of of Samba and Carimbo with other musics such as jazz and swing.

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Vocal music is a key expression in many cultures. It often ties an ancestral past (history, identity, ritual) to the present through story-telling, text, song, and dance. This unit focuses on a selection of vocal music from Indonesia and asks students to explore the ways in the vocal music expresses culture. In doing so, this unit focuses on an Indonesian lullaby, a Sikka work song, and Kecak vocal orchestra.

Smithsonian Folkways - Lullabies of the World - Various Artists

Chinese music consists of many regional traditions that differ in form, style, quality and repertory (Lau, 2008). This curricular unit introduces some difang yinyue (regional music of China) and encourages children to discover characteristics of Chinese music by "travelling" around the eastern region of this country.

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Lesson Plan Wednesday! #Smithsonian #Folkways just published its 100th lesson plan! These expertly-crafted lesson plans from around the world can be adapted to fit many different classes and age groups.

Smithsonian Folkways - Tools For Teaching - Map

The sentiments of the winter holiday season continue with this new lesson plan from Smithsonian Folkways Magazine. Bring an historical perspective of Christmas to the classroom via song renditions by Elizabeth Mitchell and others. #Christmasforever #ElizabethMitchell

Smithsonian Folkways Magazine - Lesson Plan - Joy to the World

¿Cómo se construye la identidad? Take a look at this special bilingual resource kit that explores the history of the Mexico-United States border. Learn about the Chicano movement and how identity is constructed in communities close to the border.

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage - Borders And Identity

NORTH AMERICAN Suggested Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8 View Full Lesson Plan

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NORTH AMERICA. Suggested Grade Levels: 4-8. View Full Lesson Plan: Students will use Mike Seeger’s performance of “Josh Thomas’s Roustabout” as a gateway to exploring vocal expression within a limited-tone sequence.

Classic Banjo from Smithsonian Folkways

BAHAMAS, UNITED STATES. Suggested Grade Levels: K-2. View Full Lesson Plan: We are all born with the rhythm inside us, our hearts thumping out an ongoing, ever-present beat that is individually felt and yet also commonly experienced. Through these experiences, children will discover the commonalities shared in drum beats and rhythms across cultures, as well as learn about the rich diversity of drums on the planet.

Smithsonian Folkways - Adventures in Rhythm - Ella Jenkins

NORTH AMERICA. Suggested Grade Levels. K-3. View Full Lesson Plan: In this lesson are opportunities for teaching and learning about some ways in which music is aligned with visual art. A sampling of songs from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is presented, alongside the cover art relevant to the songs.

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NORTH AMERICA. View Full Lesson Plan: This unit is intended to introduce students to the culture and music of Mardi Gras Indians, an important African American phenomenon that takes place in New Orleans. Students will examine the tradition and its culture-bearers, listen to and analyze Mardi Gras Indian music, and examine the multiple cultural influences that have contributed to the tradition.

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AFRICA. Suggested Grade Levels. 3-5, 6-8. View Full Lesson Plan: These lessons will provide intermediate-level children the opportunity to hear improvised flute performance for solo, duet and octet ensembles. Students will learn to identify diverse musical elements, including steady beats, rhythm, melody, harmony and expressive qualities in an improvised setting.

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ASIA. View Full Lesson Plan: 3. In this lesson, students will develop an understanding of the mode of Namdo Korean folksongs, as well as the call-and-response musical form. To illustrate these features, this lesson focuses on the 5,000 year-old Korean dance known as “Ganggangsullae” (“Kang-Kang-Soo-Woo-Nae”).

Arirang: Korean Song and Dance Ensemble

SOUTH AMERICA. Suggested Grade Levels: 3-5. View Full Lesson Plan: The Paraguayan harp is a cultural emblem that represents not only the nation of Paraguay and its traditional music, but also the ideals that contribute to a collective notion of paraguayidad (i.e. “Paraguayness”). The Paraguayan diatonic harp serves as a melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic instrument.

Latin American Festival

NORTH AMERICA. Suggested Grade Levels K-2. View Full Lesson Plan: Open the eyes of your students to the beauty and power of American and world folk songs and stories through the iconic figure of Pete Seeger. Explore his important work in promoting peace, understanding, community, and wonder through song.

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EUROPE. Suggested Grade Levels: 3-5. View Full Lesson Plan: Irish Music: Experiences in Dance, Singing, and Instrument Playing. Explore the world of Irish culture through playing, singing and dancing. Students will learn to differentiate styles of Irish music and start discussing the cultural context of song and dance.

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EUROPE. Suggested Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8. View Full Lesson Plan: Irish Bodhran and the Celtic Classics: Singing, Dancing, and Playing with Cunla and Patsy Ory Ory Aye. Play the bodhran accurately and with a steady beat. Learn listening, singing and dancing skill through the traditional song “Cunla”.

Smithsonian Folkways

SOUTH AMERICA. Suggested Grade Levels: 6-8. View Full Lesson Plan: Capoeira: Martial Arts Meets Music. Performance videos and live recordings immerse students in this musically and visually exciting tradition from Brazil. Students learn to recognize the differences in several Brazilian musical genres.

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SOUTH AMERICA. Suggested Grade Levels: 6-8. View Full Lesson Plan: Dance Traditions of Argentina. The goal of the lesson is to introduce students to two contrasting dance traditions from Argentina: the Chacarera and the Tango. Elements of the music used to accompany both types of traditional dance will be explored.

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SOUTH AMERICA. Suggested Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12. View Full Lesson Plan: Dança!: Movement and Music of Brazil. Immerse yourself in the lively mood of Samba and Carimbo. Learn the basic steps and dance along with the music. Identify the instruments and play along with others. Learn about the relationships of Samba and Carimbo with other musics such as jazz and swing.

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