American Folk Music, Folk Art, and Folk Tales curriculum (homeschooling)

Continuing my series detailing our homeschooling curriculum for 4th grade for anyone who is considering homeschooling to see how we do it in real detail.

As I explained in an earlier post, I try to take an interdisciplinary approach to homeschooling. This year, our theme is our identity as Americans. We are studying American history, American literature, and I created a special unit on American Folk Music, Folk Art, and Folktales. I put so much work into researching resources for this unit and I am quite proud of how it turned out. I tried to work in a lot of content on the music and traditions of Native Americans and the African-American community. If anyone out there has any suggestions or ideas, please send them along.

American Folk Music and Patriotic Songs

TEXT: Wee Sing America

  • We Love the USA
  • John F. Kennedy Quote
  • The Star-Spangled Banner
  • Preamble to the Constitution
  • You’re a Grand Old Flag
  • Three Cheers for the Red, White, and Blue
  • The Stars and Stripes Forever
  • There Are Many Flags
  • America
  • Thomas Jefferson Quote
  • Abraham Lincoln Quote
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Quote
  • America, America
  • America the Beautiful
  • Statue of Liberty Excerpt
  • The United States
  • Presidents of the United States
  • Yankee Doodle Boy
  • Yankee Doodle
  • Old Abe Lincoln
  • Abraham Lincoln Quote
  • Dixie
  • Battle Hymn of the Republic
  • George Washington Quote
  • When Johnny Comes Marching Home
  • Goober Peas
  • The Caissons
  • Marine’s Hymn
  • Patrick Henry Quote
  • Anchors Aweigh
  • Sweet Betsey from Pike
  • I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
  • John Henry
  • Drill, Ye Tarriers
  • Paddy Works on the Railway
  • The Old Chisholm Trail
  • Goodbye, Old Paint
  • I Ride an Old Paint
  • Git Along, Little Dogies
  • My Home’s in Montana
  • Old Texas
  • The Boll Weevil
  • Pick a Bale o’ Cotton
  • Cotton Needs Pickin’
  • Shuckin’ of the Corn
  • Old Settler’s Song
  • Sacramento
  • Blow Ye Winds
  • Cape Cod Chantey
  • Blow the Man Down
  • Erie Canal
  • Down the River

TEXT: Wee Sing Fun ‘n’ Folk

  • Crawdad Song
  • Bought Me a Cat
  • Polly Wolly Doodle
  • Shortin’ Bread
  • Oh, Dear! What Can the Matter Be?
  • There’s a Little Wheel A-Turnin’
  • Jennie Jenkins
  • The Wabash Cannonball
  • Grizzly Bear
  • Train Is A Comin’
  • The Rattlin’ Bog
  • Great Granddad
  • Billy Boy
  • Father Grumble
  • Hold On
  • The Old Gray Mare
  • The Big Rock Candy Mountain
  • Cindy
  • Old Joe Clark
  • Frog Went A-Courtin’
  • Grasshoppers Three
  • The Bee and the Pup
  • Little Red Caboose
  • The Bear
  • The Arkansas Traveler
  • Keemo Kymo
  • Goin’ to Boston
  • The Railroad Cars Are Coming
  • Old Dan Tucker
  • Had a Little Rooster
  • Little Liza Jane
  • Put Your Little Foot
  • Hop Up, My Ladies
  • The Frog in the Bog
  • Pawpaw Patch
  • Buffalo Gals
  • Turn the Glasses Over
  • Turkey in the Straw
  • Jingle at the Window
  • Shoo Fly
  • Rig-A-Jig-Jig

Native American Culture and Music

Audio Resource: Sacred Music: Chants and Dances of the Native Americans

  • Introduction and Prelude: How the West Was Lost
  • Winter Ceremony
  • The Counter-Clockwise Circle Dance
  • Celebrate Wild Rice
  • The Cradlesong
  • Advice for the Young
  • Wishes of Happiness and Prosperity
  • Elevation
  • Intertribal Song to Stop the Rain
  • Heal the Soul
  • Brandishing the Tomahawk

TEXT: More than Moccasins: A Kid’s Activity Guide to Traditional North American Indian Life

Everyday Life

  • Tepee
  • Backrest
  • Wigwam
  • Pueblo Village
  • Weaving
  • Burden Basket
  • Pottery
  • Boxes
  • Parfleche
  • Bark Containers
  • Pouch
  • Canoe
  • Fishing Lure
  • Duck Decoy
  • Special Shield
  • Coup Stick
  • Wampum
  • Peace Pipe

Things to Wear

  • Vest
  • Breechcloth and Apron
  • Leggings
  • Armbands
  • Cuffs
  • Anklets
  • Fancy Dance Bustle
  • Women and Girls’ Capes
  • Pueblo Dress
  • Headbands
  • Warbonnets
  • Plains Bonnet
  • Bonnet Case
  • Iroquois Headdress
  • Pipe Bone Breastplate
  • Bear Claw Necklace
  • Shell Necklace
  • Shell Gorget
  • Shell Etching
  • Fetish Necklace
  • Seed and Corn Necklace
  • Silver Bracelet
  • Earring Loops
  • Bounty of Beads
  • Face Painting
  • Mud Head Mask
  • False Face Mask
  • Kachina Mask

Song and Dance

  • Musical Rasp
  • Gourd Rattle
  • Turtle Shell Rattle
  • Whale Rattle
  • Drumbeats
  • Bull Roarer


  • Cradleboard
  • Cradle Charms
  • Corncob Doll
  • Hunting Toys (Deer Hat, Spear)
  • Kachina Doll
  • Dog Travois
  • Spinning Top


  • Hubbub
  • Stick Game
  • Bowl Game
  • Throw Sticks
  • Wooden Dice
  • Shell Dice
  • Stick Dice
  • Walnut Shell Game
  • Kainsish
  • Stick Counting Game
  • Hidden Stick Game
  • Hand Game
  • Moccasins Guessing Game
  • Feathered Darts
  • Hoop and Lances
  • Hoop and Darts
  • Buzz
  • Pin and Target
  • Racket Ball
  • Shinny
  • Ball Race
  • Juggling
  • Pokean
  • Standing Cob Game
  • Cat’s Cradle
  • Ring Toss
  • Foot Races


  • Fry Bread
  • Kneel-Down Bread
  • Baked Pumpkin
  • Corn and Pumpkin Stew
  • Wild Rice
  • Corn Soup
  • Hominy
  • Steamed Clover
  • Baked Squash
  • Fried Squash Blossoms
  • Fish Soup
  • Boiled Eggs
  • Popped Corn
  • Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
  • Beef Jerky
  • Fruit Leather
  • Raisins
  • Peanut Butter
  • Maple Sugar Candy
  • Drinks


  • Puzzling Petroglyphs
  • Pictographs
  • Sign Language
  • Totem Poles
  • Sandpainting
  • Winter Count
  • Smoke Signals
  • Story Stick
  • Owner Sticks
  • Birch Bark Transparencies
  • Talking Feather
  • Storytelling
  • Cherokee Alphabet
  • Navajo Code Talkers

African-American Music and Culture

TEXT: Virginia Hamilton, The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales

  • Animal Tales
  • The Real, Extravagant, and Beautiful
  • Tales of the Supernatural
  • Slave Tales of Freedom

TEXT: Velma Maia Thomas, No Man Can Hinder Me: The Journey from Slavery to Emancipation through Song

  • Remember Me: Songs of Africa (Audio: Drumming)
  • The Middle Passages: Songs that Carried Us Over (Audio: Kum Ba Ya)
  • Lord, How Come Me Here: Holding on to Songs of Our African Past (Audio: Lord, How Come We Here?)
  • When the Hammer Rings: Songs of Work (Audio: John Henry)
  • There Must Be a God Somewhere: The Birth of Spirituals (Audio: Balm in Gilead; Ride On, King Jesus)
  • Have You Got Good Religion: Songs of Biblical Stories (Audio: Were You There?)
  • Love Songs: Songs that Made Our Hearts Sing (Audio: Baby in a Guinea-Blue Gown)
  • Everybody Sing: Songs of Community (Audio: Trampin’)
  • Little Sally Walker: Lullabies and Songs of Play (Audio: Little Sally Walker; Mr. Rabbit)
  • And Before I’ll Be a Slave: Songs of Rebellion and Freedom (Audio: Sing Low, Sweet Chariot)
  • Activity: Coded Messages in Spirituals
  • John Brown’s Body: Songs of Our Soldiers (Audio: John Brown’s Body)
  • The Day of Jubilee: Songs of Emancipation (Audio: Down by the Riverside)
  • From Plantation to Palace: Preserving Our Songs (Audio: Fare Ye Well)

TEXT: Doreen Rappaport, No More! Stories and Songs of Slave Resistance

  • Harriet Wheatley, “My Pa Was Never Slave”; Overview of Slavery; The Story of Olaudah; The Story of Peppel
  • In this unfamiliar land…; The Story of Vina; The Story of Adeline; “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?”
  • The Story of Frederick; The Story of Suzie King Taylor; “Steal Away to Jesus”
  • The Story of Caroline; “Gospel Train”; “Go Down Moses”; The Story of John Scobell; “Many Thousand Gone”; The Story of Booker T. Washington

TEXT, Doreen Rappaport, Free at Last! Stories and Songs of Emancipation

  • “Listen Children”; The Story of Jane Kemper; The Story of Booker T. Washington (continued); “Free at Last”
  • The Story of Harriet Postle; Black activists campaigned…; The Story of John Solomon Lewis; The Story of Ida B. Wells
  • “Incident”; “John Henry”
  • The Story of Booker T. Washington (continued) ; “We Wear the Mask”; “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”; “I, Too, Sing America”
  • The Story of Kenneth Clark; The Story of Thurgood Marshall; “Ain’t I Glad We Got Out of the Wilderness”

TEXT: Doreen Rappaport, Nobody Gonna Turn Me ‘Round: Stories and Songs of the Civil Rights Movement

  • Margaret Walker, “For My People”; historical discussion
  • The Story of Mose Wright; The Story of Rosa Parks; The Story of Jo Ann Robinson
  • The Story of Elizabeth Eckford; The Story of John Lewis; The Story of Diane Nash
  • “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize”; historical discussion; “Oh, Freedom”; “We Shall Overcome”
  • The Story of Fannie Lou Hammer; historical discussion; The Story of Sheyann Webb; “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Tun Me ‘Round”

American Folk Art

TEXTS: Richard Panchyk, American Folk Art for Kids with 21 Activities

           William Ketchum, Jr., Grandma Moses: An American Original

           Tovah Martin, Tasha Tudor’s Heirloom Crafts

  • The Origins of Folk Art – Art and Civilization; The Emergence of Folk Art; Geography; American Folk Art
  • Folk Painting and Drawing – Academic Painting and Folk Painting; Folk Portraits
  • Activity: Paint a Folk Portrait
  • Folk Painting and Drawing (Continued) – Landscape Paintings; What Makes It a Good Painting; Watercolor, Pastel, and Tempura Paintings
  • Read William Ketchum Jr, Grandma Moses: An American Original
  • Folk Painting and Drawing (Continued) – Maritime Folk Art, Religious Painting; Sketches, Doodles, and Odds and Ends; Calligraphy; Tokens of Love; Silhouettes; Memorial Pictures
  • Activity: Calligraphy Picture Activity: Silhouettes
  • Activity: Reverse Painting on Glass
  • Activity: Make a Shadow Painting
  • Howard Finster
  • The Decorative Arts – Fraktur; Painted Furniture; Rewards of Merit; The Hex Sign; Stencils; Theorem Painting; Stoneware; Other Pottery; Toleware
  • Activity: Make a Hex Sign
  • Activity: Make a Stencil; Folk or Fake?
  • Activity: Create a Paper Cutout
  • Fabric Sewn and Stitched – From Plant to Blanket; Weaving; Basket Weaving; Knitting and Crocheting; Folk Costumes; Lace; Embroidery and Needlepoint; Hooked Rugs; Samplers; Quilts; Rag Dolls
  • The Mennonites and Amish
  • Activity: Design a Quilt
  • Chiseled, Carved, and Hammered – Carved Furniture; Inlaid Wood; Canes and Walking Sticks; Gravestone Folk Art; Decoys; Tramp Art; Whittling, Carving, and Cutting; Models and Miniatures; Pyrography; Scrimshaw; The Little Town that Carved; Weathervanes and Whirligigs; Games and Toys
  • Read Tovah Martin, Tasha Tudor’s Heirloom Crafts
  • Elijah Pierce
  • Activity: Make a Scrimshaw
  • The Shakers of Sabbathday Lake
  • Found Objects and Scraps – Trench Art
  • Activity: Make a Memory Box
  • Activity: Recycled Fun
  • Mr. Imagination
  • Activity: Decoupage a Box
  • Public Folk Art – Product Design; Trade Cards and Advertising; Cigar Store Indians (Cigar Store in St Augustine); Trade Signs; Building Signs; Tavern and Inn Signs; Roadside America; Murals, Frescoes, and Building Decorations (Note the murals in Flagler Beach, Cocoa Beach, Ft. Lauderdale)

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