Aligned with Learning Opportunities Presented at


Ferrum College, Ferrum, VA

Overview & Purpose

The following represent potential activities or projects for students to develop around their visit to The Blue Ridge Folklife Festival. Obviously, no one student or teacher will attempt to do a large number of the projects presented. The ideas are intended to stimulate your thinking and to match in some subjects the units you already have completed or have underway. We are also certain that many of your students will not yet be ready to tackle the more advanced projects presented here. Our goal at this time is to create matches for the 4th Grade SOLs as written. We have confidence that you will adjust any idea to the level at which your learners are currently working. (We hope in future years to have expanded lists for other grades. These may also be helpful to you as you make individual plans.) Please keep these ideas on file to share with other grade -level teachers in your building.

We encourage you to think about having some of the students who do attend the festival serve as "data collectors" and all students or selected groups of students develop the project(s) or solve the problem(s) based upon the data. In that way the entire class can participate in the richness of the opportunity presented by the Festival.

Above all, we hope that you will make your students aware of the wonderful opportunity to learn at THE BLUE RIDGE FOLKLIFE FESTIVAL.

(SOL Activities are written in "to student" terms. You may wish to select those you consider appropriate and allow students/groups to make choices from your selections.)



Identify the physical features of this mountain area that contributed to the food that was traditionally grown and consumed here.

Present to the class--orally or in writing--the cause and effect relationship demonstrated in your conclusions. Support your ideas with the data you have collected.

SOLS Science 4.1, 4.8; English 4.1, 4.2, 4.7, 4.8, 4.9

Identify and report the different energy forms used to prepare food in the traditional manner. Present reasons for your decisions.

SOLs Science 4.2; English 4.1, 4.2, 4.7, 4.8, 4.9

Present through a comparison of data collected (use primary and secondary sources) the changes in the ways that food groups--meat, baked goods and vegetables--are prepared now and how they were prepared traditionally.

This project may be assigned to groups: Recipes from the two time periods are collected. Individual recipes are compared according to their goals--flavor, cost, availability of materials, and speed of preparation.

SOLs History, SS 4.2, 4.5, 4.7; English 4.1, 4.2, 4.7, 4.8, 4.9

Identify dietary changes and social changes that influenced the changes in food preparation noted above.

SOLs History, SS 4.2, 4.5, 4.7; English 4.1, 4.2, 4.7, 4.8, 4.9

Identify the role of social and economic changes on how food has been purchased, prepared, and enjoyed then and now.

SOLs History, SS 4.5, 4.6; English 4.1, 4.2, 4.7, 4.8, 4.9

Identify (taste if possible) contributions to our Virginia food heritage made by specific groups of people.

SOLs History, SS 4.3; English 4.1, 4.2, 4.7, 4.8, 4.9

Translate the following to a graph:
# booths selling food that includes meat
# booths selling snacks or meals that have no meat
# booths that sell sweets only

SOLs Math 4.9

Translate the graph made above into written problems using addition or subtraction of fractions. Solution to the problems should be shown.

SOLs Math 4.10

Choose a food that you like. Interview a contact person at that booth. (Choose an afternoon time for your interview when the booth is less busy.) Find out how much food was purchased for the event.
Ask about the amount needed for one serving.
Estimate the number of individuals this booth could feed if all the food were used. Show how you arrived at your answer.
Convert all the amounts to metric measure.

[This project could be extended by asking the student/group to find from the vendor the cost of the raw material purchased, identify the charge for a serving of the food, note any other costs (packaging, serving implements, etc.), then estimate the amount of profit for the organization if all the product were to be sold. (Operations used to arrive at the answer would be shown.)]

SOLs Math 4.5, 4.6, 4.7, 4.11, 4.13

Create math problems based upon food purchased at the Festival for a family of 4.

Begin with a budget of $50.
Present figures in combinations of vertical and horizontal formats.
Identify the operation used.
Show the solution for each problem.

SOLs Math 4.5, 4.7



  Write math problems based on the patterns observed in the quilts on display. Operations used and solutions to the problems will be shown.

SOLs Math 4.22

Identify current uses made of traditional crafts. For example, what other uses do people have for bread bowls other than making bread?

Make predictions about potential uses. (You may wish to use a catalogue of events from a past festival to find the kinds of crafts that are usually shown.)
Compare your ideas to answers gleaned from Festival visitors who are interested in the craft being exhibited.
Report your findings to your class.

SOLs English 4.1, 4.7, 4.8, 4.9

Identify the energy forms used to make the crafts you like.

Write your conclusions about why that form of energy is used in the traditional approach.
Compare the traditional method to the way a similar item would be made today.
Specify the advantages/disadvantages you see for both the modern and traditional methods.

SOLs Science 4.2; English 4.1, 4.7, 4.8, 4.9

Identify the simple and complex machines used in craft making.

SOLs Science 4.2

Choose a craft that you like.

Estimate the amount of material necessary for making the craft item.
Find the cost of the raw material needed to make a single item.
Talk to the craftsperson. Find out the number of hours (s)he usually works to complete the item.
From the cost of the item, determine the number of dollars per hour the craftsperson earns.

SOL Math 4.5 (Calculator use is expected.)


Tools & Technology

Based upon what you see at the Festival, make notes of the conclusions you reach about the advances in transportation and communication through time and the changes those advances have brought.

Identify the influence of the move from an agricultural to an urban/industrialized economy on the way food is obtained and prepared.

SOLs History, SS 4.6

Use a non-standard measure to determine the perimeter of the animal petting area. Later identify the number of feet, inches, or yards in your unit of measure using traditional tools for measurement. Using a conventional tool, translate your estimate into standard measure. Translate your standard estimate into metric measure.

SOL Math 4.14

What tools would have been available for preparation of food then and now. This could be demonstrated by identifying the tools used then and now to prepare a specific recipe or favorite food.

SOL Science 4.2--physical features of work

Name and describe the different energy forms you observed:

potential and kinetic
Identify where you saw each and how it was used.
Compare your list to those of other students who attend the
How many different energy forms did you identify from your combined lists?
Using a catalog of events from the Festival, see how many additional energy forms your group can identify.

SOL Science 4.2

Identify the simple and complex machines you see.

Name the types of each and the work they were doing.
Name as many of the simple machines that make up complex machines as you can identify.

SOL Science 4.2

Identify the simple and complex machines you see. Name the types of each and the work they are doing.

Identify the simple machines you see in the complex machines.
Compare the machines used to accomplish a similar task today. What are the advantages/disadvantages of each machine?

SOLs Science 4.2

Identify ways that changes in communication and transportation have impacted the foods eaten by people in this area historically and now.

SOLs History, SS 4.6

Count and name the different traditional tools you see in use at the Festival. Have a contest with a friend to see who can spot the largest number.

SOLs History, SS 4.7

Think about three tools that you use quite often. Find an equivalent traditional tool. Which accomplishes the job the easiest? Makes the best finished product? Is cheapest to operate?

What other comparisons can you make between the tools? Which do you prefer? Why?

SOLs English, 4.9



Attend a folk music session. Listen carefully to the lyrics of the song. Choose a song you like. Use the content and message of the song to develop a creative story that is built on the ideas in the song.

SOLs English 4.2, 4.7, 4.8

Choose three of your current favorite songs. What is each song about? What rhythms are used? Listen to songs from another regional folk music group. Do you find any songs that deal with similar subjects? How are they like and different? How are the rhythms similar and different?

SOLs English 4.1

When you listen to the music at the festival, note the songs that deal with historical events, with places in Virginia, with famous people, with traditional foods or folkways. How many of these items can you hear?

SOLs History 4.6, 4.7



Estimate the weight of three different animals at the Festival such as a chicken, a coon dog, and a draft horse. Be able to identify your process of estimation. Express your estimate in metric units.

Ask a vendor at the Festival the weight they attribute to the animal. Compare your estimates to their responses. Express the differences as > or < .

SOLs Math 4.1, 4.11

Develop a story chain including as many animals (that you see at the Festival) as you can that expresses their estimated weight in terms of > or <.

Example: a chicken weighs < a turkey, a turkey weighs < a dog, a dog weighs < a ___, a ___ weighs < a _____; but a _____ weighs > a ____, a ____ weighs > a_____. The idea is to use the named animal to compare to another, then at some point to use the same animal to reverse the comparison.

SOLs Math 4.1, 4.11

Watch the log-pulling contest. Identify the roles played by efficiency, friction and inertia in this event.

SOLs Science 4.2

Talk with individuals who have animals or other exhibits at the Festival about the historical contributions made by plant and animals to life in this area. Make a list, using one column for plants, one for animals, of the contributions you find out about at the Festival. Draw a line at the end. Add as many other contributions as you know about from other sources.

SOLs Science 4.8; English 4.7; History,SS 4.7



Visit the car exhibit. Which car do you like the best? What do you like about it? Find the oldest car. How many ways can you name that it is like/different from your family's car?

SOLs English 4.7


Additional SOL Applications

Collect information from the Blue Ridge Institute, Ferrum College, 365-4416,  about the size of crowds attending the festival for the past 5 years. Also identify if possible what the weather was for each of those years.

Develop a graph using weather and crowd size as your coordinates.
Two days before the Festival, develop an estimate of the size of this year's crowd based upon the weather forecast and the trends from the past five years.
After the festival, compare your estimate with the reported attendance.
Describe the crowds using terms: "closer to, between, a little more than".

SOLs Math 4.1, 4.6, 4.29

Explain your prediction based upon cause/effect relationships.

SOLs Science 4.1

Use the resources at the Festival--access to knowledgeable individuals and specific items-- to explain how physical characteristics, transportation, and climate influenced the crops, products and industries of Virginia.

SOLs History, SS 4.2

Enjoying the Festival

Listen to stories told by vendors, craftsmen and women, musicians and/or storytellers at the festival. Analyze what you have heard, identifying the difference between fact and fiction and noting the ways you went about determining what was real and what was story.

SOLs History, SS 4.7

Interview one of the vendors. Ask questions about how services provided by the government have changed. What services were provided during their childhoods? What services are provided now?

SOLs History, SS 4.6

Create math problems based upon an amount of money one has to spend at the festival. Identify cost of items purchased and amount of change received.

SOL Math 4.5

What is your favorite part of the Festival that you would hope is still included 50 years from now?

Imagine yourself at a Blue Ridge Folklife Festival 50 years in the future. How old will you be? What would you choose for your role as a vendor?

If you sold food--what items from the present would you choose to sell?
What crafts that you or members of your family make would you like to demonstrate?
What kind of music of today would you like to perform?
Name some tools or technologies that you think would have historical interest 50 years from now.
What kind of transportation used today do you think would interest people 50 years from now? How do you think cars, trucks, airplanes, and other means of travel used today will be different?

Use your answers to create a future-time story or a report to present to the class.

SOLs English 5.1, 5.3, 5.7



Any of the ideas presented above can easily be linked to SOLs for English by having students:

  • research the topic in advance, 4.9
  • construct questions they wish to have answered at the Festival, 4.9
  • collect information at the Festival, 4.9
  • evaluate and synthesize information for use in writing, 4.9
  • use available technology for research, organization, writing, and presentation, 4.9
  • seek ideas, opinions, and information from persons at the Festival, 4.1
  • use evidence to support opinions, 4.1
  • listen to and record answers to their questions and information volunteered by vendors and others at the Festival, 4.1
  • organize information for clarity, 4.1
  • write narratives and explanations according to 4.7
  • edit final copies of writings according to 4.8