"What's In a Name?"
Learn about the origins and meaning of your name. Ask your parents who you were named for? Does your name have any special meaning or significance? Where does your name come from, and what does it mean?
A reproducible questionnaire from Scholastic Book Club to help students learn about their names.
"From Generation to Generation: Transmitting Family History, Cultural Traditions, and Values"
According to Elizabeth Jameson: "Jewish women lugged with them the resources to sustain Jewish life and identity: candlesticks, kiddush cups, challah covers, family photographs, and prayer books. They also carried the knowledge to prepare the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. They braided loaves of Sabbath challah, baked unleavened matzo for Passover, and the three-cornered hamentaschen cookies for Purim. Each family recipe for gefilte fish, cholent, kreplach, chopped liver, kugel, latkes, matzo balls, or borscht carried a particular memory of survival from Jewish communities of Russia, Poland, Germany, or Hungary-a heritage passed through generations of women."
Consider the importance the Jewish pioneer women placed on maintaining their religious and cultural practices and values, even when it was difficult. In what ways did their cultural identity help them cope? In what ways, if any, do you think they made their lives harder?
When people immigrate, they must decide for themselves to what degree they will try to hang on to their old culture and to what degree they will attempt to assimilate into the new one. Think about your own family's cultural traditions. Do you have any special foods that you eat or rituals or holidays that you observe? Have these traditions changed over ther years? Do you maintain cultural traditions in the same way as your grandparents? Think about how traditions change over time, and how culture changes and adapts to new circumstances.
Is it still important to maintain cultural traditions in the contemporary world? Why or why not? Think about the family history, cultural values and traditions that have been passed down to you. How did you learn them? Do you want to pass down to your children, if you have them? Which ones? Why or why not? How will you do it?
Explore the different ways that family history and cultural values are transmitted from generation to generation-from family heirlooms to the ethical will.
Think about an heirloom in your family. Conduct research on it. Ask family members about its history. When and where was it made? Who made it? Who owned it in the past? What is it made out of? How is it used? Why is it important? What does it symbolize? What does it mean to you? After learning about the object, do you think of it in a different way?
Pretend you are a museum curator considering acquiring this object for the museum's collection. Write a report about it including its dimensions and as much information as you were able to find out. Include a photograph or drawing.
Hold a debate on cultural preservation vs. assimilation.
Study a family heirloom.
The Ethical Will is a unique way that Jewish parents have passed down their values to their children.
"Families: the Roots of History"
A strong family support structure was a common element among the stories of the Jewish pioneer women portrayed in Andrea Kalinowski's artwork.
Learn about your relationships with your relatives, conduct interviews and research, then organize your findings into a family tree, migration map, other visual presentation. Place events in your family history in a wider historical context by creating a timeline.
A great web site from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Interview guidelines and projects including a family quilt, museum, portraits, web album, and cookbook.
A teacher's resource from the Scholastic Book Club. "Families: The Roots of History"
A reproducible from the Scholastic Book Club. "We are Family - Teaching About Families"
"Immigration-Stories of Yesterday and Today"
Explore places of origin, learn to appreciate cultural diversity by learning about the historical context and circumstances that got you and your family to where you are-ask relatives, conduct research. Study the causes of worldwide migration in our own times. War, religious persecution, political repression, poverty or natural disasters are a few of the factors that might cause people to uproot from their homes and move to a new land. Of more than 100,000 million migrants worldwide, it is estimated that more than 26 million are refugees who have been forced form their homelands by circumstances, not choice.
Imagine that you are suddenly caught in a situation where your continued security or even your life is threatened. You must leave your home tomorrow. What situation caused you to decide to leave your home and family? You can only bring with you what fits in one small suitcase. What should you take? What will you have to leave behind? What do you wish you could bring that you must leave? Think about the things that you value as you pack. What do you imagine your new life will be like? What will your journey be like? How will you travel? Will you need to cross borders illegally? Will you need to bribe people to help you? What hardships and dangers will you endure?
A great site.
Entry point for many Asian-American immigrants.
Simple interview questrions from Scholastic Book Club.
Web site that accompanied the PBS Series "Ancestors."
Building strong communities was crucial to survival on the frontier. Learn about your community and your family's place in the community by conducting oral history interviews. How will you document your interviews. Will you take a photograph of your subject? Audio- or videotape your interview?
Oral history interview guidelines.
Great links. Check out the fabulous "Voices of Youth" Project.
Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife. Click on Education.
Women of the West Museum, "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes," Elementary school students learn about ten amazing women from their neighborhood.
"Family Matters: History from Scraps"
Start a scrapbook of family history.
Click on "Hadassah Magazine Past & Present," May '02.
Be History Detective. Learn how to use firsthand accounts to learn about the past.
Create a firsthand account of your own life. Keep a journal for a month. In it, describe your daily routine, the experiences you have and your reaction to them, and any observations you have about the society you live in. Think about the things that you found interesting and important in the first hand accounts from the frontier that you have read. Record your thoughts, feelings, questions, and quotations that you find especially meaningful. With this in mind, include things in your journal that you think someone reading it 100 years form now would find useful in understanding what it was like to be your age in the United States in the early 21st century.
"Who Killed William Robinson? Solve an historical murder mystery using primary source materials.
"Tell It Like It Ought to Be"
Study folklore, folk stories, sayings, humor to learn how they can encode values and transmit cultural history from generation to generation. Listen to a storyteller like Joel Ben Izzy, Joe Hayes, or someone from your own community. Learn how folk culture can influence mainstream and popular culture.
Jewish writer and humorist Sholem Alecheim wrote stories about shtetl life in Yiddish, the vernacular language of Jews. Some of his stories were adapted into the play Fiddler on the Roof, which premiered on Broadway in 1964 and was made into a movie in 1971. Another important Yiddish writer was Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer, who also set many of his stories in the shetls of his youth. One of his stories was adapted into the movie Yentl in 1983. Read these stories, then watch the movies. How were the original stories changed in the movies and why?
Check out a web site for the Africa-American writer and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston and Mary Ellen Riccio's curriculum based on her folktales, with projects including a folktale anthology, class play, illustration, and discussion of dialect.
Web site for award-winning traveling Jewish storyteller Joel Ben Izzy.
The author of numerous picture books, including "The Keeping Quilt," whose whole oeuvre comprises a Keeping Quilt of family memories and cross-cultural understanding.
"Thanks for the Memories"
Create a School or Community Archive.
"Stitching Together Community: Making an Issues Quilt"
Quilts have often been used to make social or political statements. During slavery, quilts were used to indicate "safe houses" along the Underground Railroad. They were used as banners by the Temperance Movement. During the Civil War, they were used to raise money. People have used quilts to indicate a sense of community and to raise awareness. Think of an issue that is important in today's society, or an event you would like to commemorate as a group or individually. Make a quilt that pieces together your thoughts and feelings.
Think about what you would like people to learn from your "issues quilt." How do you hope your project will increase awareness about a social or political issue, help change people's attitudes, or help promote social change?
The Official web site of the AIDS Quilt Project.
Oprah Winfrey's on-line digital quote quilt of reactions to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
"Mixed Message/Mixed Media"
There is an old African saying that until the lions have their historians, the stories of hunting will always glorify the hunters. Similarly, until there were women historians of the American West, the historical view focused on larger-than-life male personalities as romanticized in novels, movies, and other representations.
Andrea Kalinowski's artwork allow us to appreciate the daily lives and experiences of ordinary people, specifically Jewish immigrant women, as the basis for a new understanding of history.
Many historical accounts and media images distort the past and need to be analyzed critically. They can reinforce stereotypes and prejudices and demean people by omitting mention of their experiences and contributions. What things have you read or watched that have influenced your image of the American frontier?
Read in your history text book, supplemented by primary source readings from The American Frontier: Opposing Viewpoints. Primary source material provides perspective on the diversity that existed on the frontier and demonstrates that the American West was not an uninhabited and undiscovered territory, as it is often represented. Develop Media Literacy-the ability to deconstruct the underlying messages you receive from the media and the effect they have on your thinking.
Learn to evaluate content and think independently. Learn the conventions of academic writing. Choose a topic or issue related to the history of the American West to study and think about. Develop a personal viewpoint that challenges conventional wisdom or a commonly held belief, assumption, or stereotype.
Write an essay or lead a class discussion on how this exhibition and your research have changed your preconceptions about the history of the American West. What had you imagined life was like on the frontier and how has that image changed? Were women and children part of the frontier you imagined? What about Jews, women, Native Americans, African-Americans, Spanish-Americans, and other ethnic groups?
New Mexico Media Literacy Project
Official site for the Ken Burns PBS television series on the American West.
American Library Association.
"Celebrating Who We Are, Sharing What We've Learned"
Plan and produce a class or community event for friends and family - include performances, an exhibition, and food.
"Empowering Children in the Aftermath of Hate"
Think about and discuss how Jewish pioneer women were able to maintain their cultural values, traditions and identity under challenging circumstances. What are some examples of how they demonstrated moral courage in the face of personal danger?
What factors contributed to their abilities to endure and overcome their fears, language barriers, poverty, hunger, grief and discrimination to survive and eventually prosper? What inborn qualities of personality? What strength of character and moral fiber developed form experience? What kind of support from family and friends? What cultural values? How did they help themselves by helping others?
Put yourself in the shoes of one of the women, or think of a difficult situation that you have faced in your own life or that you might face. What factors have helped you cope with adversity or grief? Create a work of art expressing your ideas and feelings or write about them.
The web site of the Anti-Defamation League with suggestions about talking to children about September 11th.
The fabulous web site of the Southern Poverty Law Center full of resources for learning about the importance of preserving cultural diversity and combating hatred in the world.
Women of the West Museum, recommended reading list for women's history, all ages.
"Meet a Mentor"
An exhibition like "Stories Untold" involves the work of people in a variety of careers-artist, writer, librarian, archivist, historian, museum worker, anthropologist, and photographer, to name a few. Pick some aspect of the project that might interest you as a career. Find a person in your family or community to interview or conduct research on someone with that career. Write a short biographical sketch of that person.
A reproducible about a cultural anthropologist from Scholastic Book Club.
Learn about who we are and where we came from from the food we eat. Conduct research into which foods that we eat are native to North America, and which ones were brought here by immigrants. Learn about the efforts to preserve heirloom seeds. What parallels can be drawn between cultural diversity and biodiversity?
Grow a heritage garden and create a festive meal to share with friends and family with the harvest.
Seeds of Change Garden from the Smithsonian Institution, includes history, gardening instructions, diversity activities, and recipes.
A wealth of information for teachers about gardening with your class from the National Gardening Association.
"Modern by Design"
Kalinowski uses traditional quilt designs as a symbol of personal narrative. The artist's digital renderings combine these designs with photographs and excerpts from the journals and diaries of Jewish pioneer women in much the same way that a writer might write a biography or autobiography. But Kalinowski's works communicate the stories more directly than any of the elements would do by themselves. As Elizabeth Jameson writes: "Patchwork becomes a precise metaphor for the scraps of documents, letters, memoirs, and artifacts from which historians now piece together the larger patterns of women's lives."
Research the work of an artist who combines personal narrative and contemporary techniques. Some possibilities include Faith Ringgold (African-American), Judy Chicago (Jewish), Victor Masayesva, Jr. (Hopi), May Stevens, Suzanne Lacey, Hung Liu (Chinese), and Martina Lopez (Latina).
An on-line course about Women Artists of the American West.
"Memory & Imagination: Combining Fact & Fiction."
Consider the connections between memoir, autobiography, and fiction.
Choose one of the books from the "Dear America" or "My Name is America" Series. These books are written as if they were diaries. As you are reading, consider the following questions: What time period did the character live in? What was happening then, and how did that shape the character's experiences? Did she encounter challenges? What were they and how did she handle them? Did she have support from anyone to help her deal with her situation? Who supported her and how? Did you relate to the character? Can you think of any comparable that you or anyone you know has gone through?
Learn the conventions of a writing form and for example a diary entry, letter, newspaper article, or obituary. Write a fictional piece in that style, based on your reading or a real life event or experience.
Teachers resources of the "Dear America" series from Scholastic Book Club.
Discussion Guides for the "My Name is America" Series from Scholastic Book Club.
The Bondwoman's Narrative by Hannah Craft, edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Possibly the first novel by an African-American woman. Read how Gates rediscovered this fascinating piece of fictionalized slave narrative and did the detective work to track down its probably author and the family who owned her.
"Something Old, Something New"
During the 1970s, when feminist artists began the process of uncovering women's history that had been largely omitted from conventional accounts, they often incorporated or referenced traditional women's handwork that ordinary women, usually anonymous women, created within the confines of their socially defined roles. In this way, the artists honored the women from history.
In honoring the lives and contributions of nearly-forgotten Jewish pioneer women, Kalinowski's mixed media works merge modern technology with the traditional art form of quilting. By creating her artworks digitally and then handworking them, she has created a very modern manifestation of an age-old art. Why did she choose to do this? How has modern technology affected the choices available to the artist? What kind of parallels can be drawn between the quilt, pieced and layered by hand, and the digital photograph, created through a mechanical process of layering?
Investigate art forms other than quilts that have traditionally considered "women's work." What about making lace, embroidery, needlepoint, or weaving? Find out if they have also been adopted by contemporary artists. Create your own mixed media work about yourself or an historical person or someone you know who is important to you that combines a traditional art form with a contemporary one.
See the links under "Modern by Design."