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    Featured Lesson Plan - Development of Cajun Culture as a Result of Migration
    By Sarah Hill and Sarah Lynch
    Grade Level: Grades Six - Eight

    Objective #1: Given a map of North America, students will sketch the migration path that brought the Cajuns from Acadia to Louisiana.

    Objective #2: Given a story and a taste of Cajun cuisine, students will experience an aspect of Cajun culture and gain an understanding of how other cultures influence Cajun cuisine.

    Essential Element: Human Systems

    Standard #12: The processes, patterns, & functions of human settlement.

    Skill Set #1: Asking Geographic Questions: Plan how to answer geographic questions about migration.

    Skill Set #3: Organizing Geographic Information: Prepare a map to organize information about migratory path taken.

    Skill Set #4: Analyzing Geographic Information: Interpret & synthesize information obtained from a children's picture book.

    Geographic Themes: Place, Regions, Movement, Location, & Human Environment Interaction

    Purpose: With this lesson students will understand how migration influences the development of culture.

    Material: Blank maps of North America, colored pencils, CD of Zydeco music featuring the song "Chico Two Step" by the California Cajun Orchestra, Bayou Lullaby by Kathi Appelt, sample of cajun food, poster board, and overheads.

    Background Information:
    Acadia was colonized by the French in the eastern region of Canada in 1604. It was the first European colony in North America. Acadia no longer appears on the Canadian map, due to the Grand Dérangement, which was the huge exodus of Acadians that took place from 1755 to 1762 by order of Governor Lawrence.

    Push Factors:


    1. France and Britain were battling for supremacy in the New World.
    2. Acadia ceded to Great Britain in 1713.

    French and Indian War

    1. The British looked at Acadians with suspicion because they spoke French.
    2. 1755 War brought the situation of the Acadians to a head.


    1. Charles Lawrence responsible for tearing Acadian families apart and cramming them into cargo holds of wooden ships.
    2. One in three people fell ill, starved or froze to death.
    3. The ship stopped at Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina, where the remaining 6,000 Acadians were dropped off.
    4. Acadians were forced to labor as indentured servants in the colonies before they were able to escape.

    Louisiana Purchase

    1. 1803 United States acquired the land the Cajuns fled to (Louisiana) from France in the Louisiana Purchase.
    2. 1812 Louisiana became a state.


    1. Americans wanted the Louisiana land the Cajuns settled because of its fertile farming soil.
    2. In a second exile the Americans drove the Cajuns deep into the swamps and marshes of the Louisiana bayou.

    Pull Factors:


    1. Religious freedom
    2. Opportunities of the New World


    1. Strong family ties drew several hundred Acadian refugees to the backwaters of Louisiana.
    2. Between 1765 and 1785 families were reunited as other banished Acadians made their way to Louisiana.


    1. Music
    2. Discussion of Push & Pull factors of the migration of the Acadians
    3. Sketch migration path of Acadians on map
    4. Read story about the Bayou
    5. Match Cajun vocabulary with definitions
    6. Lesson extension: A taste of Cajun cuisine


    1. Through active listening of Zydeco music, ask students to identify the region of North America that is associated with this music.
      1. Make a list of student guesses.
      2. Ask students what comes to mind when they think of Louisiana and Cajuns. Develop a list as a class.

    2. Through discussion present the Cajun history to students.
      1. Use categories of push & pull factors to begin discussion of the migration of the Acadians.
      2. Use pre-made categories of push & pull factors as a visual on the board.

    3. On a map of North America students will trace the migration path of the Cajuns from Acadia to their present location in Louisiana.
      1. Use an overhead showing France, Acadia, and Louisiana and discuss the history of the Cajuns and reasons for their migration.
      2. Students will draw the migration path of the Cajuns from Acadia to Louisiana using a dotted line on their North American map. Be sure that Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina are labeled on the map. Students will make an X at each place the ship dropped off Acadians (Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina). From the marked X's in Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina, students will draw lines from each X across the United States to Louisiana. The three lines will connect in Louisiana to show where the Acadians fled. Use an overhead as an example.

    4. Read Bayou Lullaby to students as an example of the Cajun language. Be sure to clarify to students that many of the words in the story may be unfamiliar. Explain to students that they should listen carefully to the story to see if they can figure out the meanings of the Cajun words. Students should also take notice of the illustrations, which portray features of the bayou including house types, vegetation, and animals.

    5. Working in groups students will match Cajun vocabulary used in Bayou Lullaby to the correct definitions of these words. On the board students will place the correct term with its matching definition, using pre-written & precut poster board strips. The words and definitions will be written on the poster board strips. The list of vocabulary includes:

      bayou (BY oh): a very slow-moving, meandering stream, found chiefly in the southern part of the United States near the Gulf Coast and often characterized by large marshy or swampy sections. The water is sometimes brackish--a mixture of fresh and salty water, due to backwash from the Gulf--creating ideal conditions for oysters, crawdads (crayfish), and other shellfish.

      chocolat (cho co LOT): the water in the bayous of the Gulf Coast region has a chocolate brown color due to the darkness of the mud that forms in the banks and the decomposition of plant material that releases tannin, a tea-colored astringent that "dyes the water.

      fais dodo (fay doe DOE): in the bayou country a fais dodo is an evening gathering where dancing takes place, but used her the phrase means "go to sleep, go to sleep."

      ma petite (mah puh TEET): my little one.

      petite cherie (puh TEET SHUH ree): my little darling.

      pirogue (PEER oh): a small flat-bottomed boat with high sides, usually steered with a pole; it can skim over very shallow water.

    6. Extend the lesson by allowing students to experience Cajun cuisine by bringing in samples of Cajun food & spices.
      1. Place a list of the cultures that influence the Cajun cuisine on the chalkboard. (Native Americans: corn, ground sassafras, and bay leaves. French: bouillabaisse. Spanish: paella, spices, jambalaya. African: okra plant. German: andouille, milk, and butter. Italian: braising, a slow-cooking technique. Creole: spices) Use an overhead of the state of Louisiana and trace the outline of the state on the chalkboard. Circle the area that the Cajuns inhabit today (New Orleans & Lafayette). Students will draw lines with chalk from the list of cultures to the circled area on Louisiana. This will help solidify the concept that other countries have added to Cajun culture.
      2. Wrap up lesson by questioning students about some possible push & pull factors that resulted in other cultures settling in Louisiana.

    Appelt, Kathi. (1995). Bayou Lullaby. New York: Morrow Junior Books.
    Bail, Raymond. (1998). Cajun Home. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
    Folse, John. (1989). The evolution of Cajun & Creole cuisine. Retrieved October 17, 2001 on the World Wide Web.
    Hoyt-Goldsmith, Diane. (1995). Mardi Gras: A Cajun Celebration. New York: Holiday House.

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