Line of Inquiry
Why are Congo Square and the people that gathered there important to New Orleans history and culture?
Teaching Strategy

Congo Square History: A Gathering Place - The Significance of Gathering
Kindergarten-3rd Grade

Explore Which of these audio and visual resources will activate imagination and draw students into this investigation?
"Congo Square," by Adewale Adenle Photo: Unknown
"The Bamboula" Creator: Edward Windsor Kimble at The Historic New Orleans Collection

What Does Congo Square Mean to Me?

Asia Rainey, Writer/Spoken Word Performance Artist:

Congo Square: the people, their music, the songs and influence on jazz. Featuring commentary by Wynton Marsalis and Gerald Early.  


Luther Gray // History of Congo Square from Positive Vibrations Foundation on Vimeo.

Positive Vibrations Foundation: Luther Gray  


Spirits of Congo Square  


Engage What activities will lead students into finding answers through this line of inquiry?

Activity One

Before beginning work with students, be sure to review the Description included in the links section of this Teaching Strategy.

1. Using a world or U.S. map in your classroom as a reference, ask students, “Where is Congo Square located within the United States?”

2. Show students the video: “Spirits of Congo Square,” linked in the Video section of this Teaching Strategy. Ask students, “What did people do when they gathered in Congo Square?”

3. Lead students through an exploration of the five senses, asking them to imagine what it was like on a Sunday in Congo Square:

  • What can you see?
  • What can you hear?
  • What can you smell, taste and touch?

4. Listen to the Oral History, “What Does Congo Square Mean to Me?” (Asia Rainey), linked in the Audio section of this Teaching Strategy. Ask students:

  • What does this artist remember when she thinks of Congo Square?
  • What does she imagine?

Activity Two

1. Lead students in a discussion about the places they know where people gather together:

  • What are some popular days or events when people gather?
  • Where do those gatherings take place?

Create a class chart to record responses from the class. On the left side, list some popular days or events when people gather. On the right side, record where these gatherings take place.

2. Ask students to draw a picture of their favorite gathering(s), and then share with their group and/or the class.

When students present their drawings, mention that each picture shows what the students can see. Ask them to use one of their other senses to help describe each picture. What would they hear, smell, taste, or touch at each gathering?

Connect How do these investigations support other academic goals and objectives?

Curricular Connections

Literacy – Speaking and Listening:
  • Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.2.2
  • Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.2.4

Reflect & Assess How will you know what your students have learned? back to top

Sample Reflection or Assessment

1. Listen and visually assess student ability to listen to and answer questions in relation to the narrative and visual media.

2. Create a rubric to help measure student success. Possible measurements could include:

  • 4: Student actively listens and can answer questions without mistakes. Student can help others understand the assignment.
  • 3: Student actively listens and can answer questions with few mistakes.
  • 2: Student listens and answers questions, yet with several mistakes.
  • 1: Student gives little effort and has difficulty comprehending information, answering questions and completing tasks.