Ways to the Heart: Food and Foodways in Hawai'i

Class 1: First Foods



  • Students will map how foods (plants and animals) came to the local landscape/environment.
  • Students will describe how those foods (plants and animals) were adopted into their culture and or traditions.

Materials Needed:

  • Map of Hawai'i/South Pacific
  • Map of local area
  • Activity sheets
  • Hawaiian Foods and their Preparation (next section)
  • The Story of the First Kalo Plant (following section)

First Activity:

A. Distance Traveling

1. Divide students into groups of 5 to 7 students.

2. Provide each group with a large chart paper and marking pen.

3. Instruct the groups that each group will leave home and go on a long distance journey. They don’t know exactly where their final destination will be and what food resources they will find once they arrive. As part of the trip’s preparation they are to conduct research about their destination and make two lists:

a. What possible food sources might they encounter at their destination?

b. What food items/resources should they take with them on this journey?

4. To add clues to help the group you may want to assign each group a journey through…

a. a long voyage up/down a river

b. across a large hot desert

c. through a tropical forest

d. along a seacoast

e. through a mountain passage in… (Andes, Switzerland etc.)

f. to the east/west coast

h. across a wide ocean

5. Post the lists and have students read their lists aloud.

6. Students will then discuss the merits or shortcomings of those food items chosen for the journey.

7. Make a master list of those items common to all.


Second Activity

B. Food mapping

1. Take the list of foods from Activity 1 above.

2. Research and discuss where the particular food and or food source originated.

3. Discuss how that food came to your table.

4. Map the food’s journey.



Third Activity

C. Haloa and the first kalo plant

1. Students will read the "Hawaiian Foods and Their Preparation" and "The Story of the First Kalo Plant" (next two sections).

2. In other parts of Polynesia, ‘ulu or breadfruit is the basic food.

3. Students will discuss the following:

a. Why does kalo become the basic food of Hawai’i?

b. What are the indigenous food staples in your area of the country?

c. Are there any similar stories that make that staple food part of the native culture?

4. Add these native food staples to your food origin map.