When you write about a family or neighborhood
tradition you are helping kids from many places to understand a
little more about the world we all live in. These stories can also
spark your own creativity, Great writers, like John Steinbeck, Jane
Austen, and even Shakespeare used folklore of people around them
to make their own stories more exciting and "lifelike." When you
write these down, you are helping to record and document stories
from your own history or community that would otherwise be lost.
Your folklore can take many forms.
You can collect games, recipes, proverbs, songs or stories and document
where and how you found them and what they mean. Also try to label
your folklore from our list of folklore types.
Tips for Getting Started
- Take a walk around your school,
home or neighborhood. Imagine you have special glasses on
folklore glasses. If you see or hear anything that looks like
folklore, write it down. You might be surprised at what you learn!
You might want to make a map
of your neighborhood (visual). As you go for a walk, note on the
map folklore examples you see (repeat chart with different types
of folklore -- Oral/visual/cogitative graph.) It can give you a
good picture of the folklore that's around you every day and what
traditions you'd like to know more about
Talk to family members, family
friends, classmates, or teachers. Tell them that you are working
on writing, researching, and recording neighborhood folklore
and family stories. Here are some questions you might ask or
try interviewing yourself with these same questions!
When and where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Were there games you remember playing
as a child? Do you remember the details and rules of the games?
What were special family or community
celebrations you remember?
Were there any games, recipes,
proverbs, songs or stories associated with those celebrations?
Where there any special celebrations
that occurred in you neighborhood that were specific to a local
tradition? Can you describe them and their origins?
Were there special adventures,
dangers, or remarkable events in your family that people talked
about and told? What were they?
What are some favorite family recipes
that may be associated with a holiday or family tradition? Who
passed them down?
Did anyone ever sing songs or lullabies
when you were little? Do you remember the words to the song
and who sang it to you? Are there any family traditions associated
Are there sayings or proverbs that
you remember hearing all the time growing up or that you still
use? Who said them most? Do you know their origins or how they
Once you've collected the information,
you may need to do a little research on your own to find out more.
For example you may want to learn more about a town or for more
background information. Also try labeling your folklore according
to our list of folklore types.
Sometimes, to get an interview started,
it's useful to give the person a timeline. Start with a decade that
people were likely to have lived in or have memories of:
Ask if there are any points on the
timeline that remind them of important events; and if they might
tell you that story.
Doing this kind of interview is called
"oral history;" and today, oral history research is used by scholars,
anthropologists, writers, artists, and historians for their work
and ideas. In some cultures, such as Native American and West African,
all history was passed on and preserved through the oral tradition;
each group of people had a storyteller who was responsible for knowing
genealogy and events of every family in the community. Today, in
places like Mali and Senegal, no celebration is complete without
the presence of the griot [GREE-oh] storyteller/oral historian,
who tells or sings to family members the history of their ancestors
going back many generations.
Now it's your turn to be the folklorist,
writer or griot of your community. Send us your family folklore
and neighborhood stories. We'd love to hear from you and add your
stories to Scholastic's Online Folklore Archive.
Here is a suggested
checklist of what you should include in your submission:
example of folklore (if it is in a language other then English,
please provide a translation).
if it is: a family story, song, lullaby, game, poem, joke, folktale,
riddle, proverb, recipe, special saying or other tradition we've
us with the details on the origins and meaning of your folklore
Where is it from?
shared it with you?
is it being passed on?
do you think it's important?
can, tell us what kind of folklore category you think it is:
oral, material, behavioral, or a combination.
how you discovered it; what research you used (writing, tape
recorder, map, timeline, Photographs) and if you learned something
feeling creative, write your own folktale based on the folklore
you discovered. (For more help on writing a folktale, visit
Folktale Writing with Alma Flor Ada or the Storytelling Workshop)
safety: Please do not disclose (include in the
text) your full name or anyone else full name in your online
Scholastic's Exploring Folklore Project
wants to hear from children in the United States and all over the
world. If you have a story to tell - whether it is in French or
Spanish, Hebrew or Arabic, send it to us, with a short English translation.
We're glad to hear from you. Bienvenidos! Bienvenue! Shalom!