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Heritage Arts Build-A-Picture – Teacher's
Interviewing Family & Community Members

Young people can learn about traditional arts and their heritage by interviewing family members and other people in their community. Older people often have experiences and ideas about traditions that they are happy to share. Interviewing requires some maturity on the part of the student, so this type of project is best suited to grades 5 and up.

Before you assign students to interview people, it is best to develop a plan.

Questions to ask on the interview

It is best if students develop a list of questions before they do the interview. They will need help in doing this.

How to document the interview

  • take notes – this is the easiest and least expensive option.
  • take photographs – this will require equipment and some training on how to use it.
  • make a recording (either video or audio)
  • this will also require equipment and some training on how to use it.

Basic equipment for taking photographs or make a recording and the importance of using a Release Form.

What to do with the documentation?

The notes, photographs taken, and recordings your students make can become part of a collection that will be a part of history. So, before you start your project develop a plan for where the notes and recordings will be stored so that they can be preserved. You may want to create a community history collection for your school. You may want to donate the information to your local historical society. To make it easier for you, your students, and other people to identify your materials in the future, it is important to label all notes and recordings clearly.

Labels should include:

  • date of the interview
  • interviewer's name
  • name of the person interviewed
  • place of the meeting
  • topic or topics covered in the interview

What are some ideas for a culmination project?

Student Reports
Students can be asked to prepare a written or spoken report to the class about their interview or series of interviews. It is a good intellectual exercise for students to distill observations from the questions they asked the person and do some additional research on the tradition, rather than just provide a transcript report of what the person said.

It is helpful to explain the word "heritage" to the students first. Here is a simple definition:

Heritage is what we inherit from the people who come before us – from our parents, grand parents, and the generations before them. Usually, we think of inheriting things like jewelry or money. But we can also inherit ways of doing things like making crafts, making music, and dancing. These are traditional arts. We can also call them "heritage arts." They are like the roots of a tree. They help stay connected to the people before us and give us strength to keep growing.

A Heritage Arts Event or Festival
You can develop a small festival for your school or community and invite traditional artists who have been interviewed to demonstrate. Traditional artists who enjoy giving talks are also listed on the NH State Council on the Arts website. The State Arts Council encourages schools and communities to compensate artists for giving presentations and to build up a fund of donations or earned income to do this. Schools and community organizations can also apply for grants from the NH State Council on the Arts to cover costs associated with short term school and community presentations.

New Hampshire State Council on the Arts
19 Pillsbury Street - 1st Floor, Concord, NH 03301