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Library of Congress American Memory Collection: The Great American Potluck

Example Web Site and/or Technical Equipment Required


Website Example:

More Ways

Computer(s), Internet access, word processing software

Activity Description

Use the "Great American Potluck" link to introduce the idea that food recipes in the United States have their own distinct regional flavors, often because of the immigrant groups that settled in different areas.


  1. Make sure that the Web site is not blocked at your school before using it with students.
  2. Prepare the lesson materials including vocabulary preparation.


  1. While teaching about food or diet, include a project in which students create an international cookbook with recipes from their home countries.
  2. Begin the lesson with vocabulary preparation and/or conversation questions related to food and food preparation.
  3. Ask students what the most common dishes are in their countries and in the United States.
  4. Explain to students the meaning of "potluck" and that the cuisine of the U.S. is like a potluck, because immigrants from all over the world have brought their own dishes from their countries to contribute to what is considered "American food."
  5. Open the Web Site Example link (above) to show students some sample recipes by region in the United States. Ask students if they have ever heard of these dishes or tried them.
  6. Tell students that they are going to write a recipe for a traditional dish from the area where they are from. Give students time to write the recipes.
  7. Provide feedback on the writing so that students can revise and edit as needed.
  8. Have students type the recipes on a word-processing program and insert an image, if possible. Compile all the documents into a class booklet with a cover page.

Teacher Tips

  • If students have low computer skills, you can type the recipes for them.
  • The other presentations and activities on the site are worth exploring but are written for a higher reading level and therefore would require more vocabulary teaching before using with students.

More Ways

  • The Classroom Materials [www] section features lesson plans, themed resources, primary source sets, presentation and activities, and collection connections.
  • The Presentations & Activities [www] section offers media-rich historical content or interactive opportunities for exploration to both teachers and students.
  • Other topics include elections, slavery to civil rights, immigration, the history of flight, brand names, inaugurations, women in American history, American songs and poems, Thanksgiving, holidays past, U.S. history timeline, on the home front during WW I and II, the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, inventions, maps, and political cartoons.



  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced


Basic Communication

  • (1.2) Use information to identify and purchase goods and services
  • (1.1) Use measurement and money

Basic Communication

  • (2.7) Understand aspects of society and culture

Basic Communication

  • (6.3) Compute using fractions
  • (6.1) Compute using whole numbers
  • (6.6) Demonstrate measurement skills
  • (6.0) Demonstrate pre-computation skills

Basic Communication

  • (7.7) Demonstrate the ability to use information and communication technology
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.