Since we are no longer allowed to celebrate Christmas as we used to know it in our school, we do a 2-3 week unit on winter holidays around the world. I take Christmas and model it. This is not your typical research program: what I'm looking for is more the cultural aspects of the holiday. A student can work alone or in groups no larger than 4. In the first week they are talking with each other and family members for ideas. Most students pick their group because they want a specific country, not to be with specific friends. They need to be able to say Happy Holidays in their country's language, show us on the map how you would get from their country to St. Louis, play a game or make a craft,
provide a taste treat from their country, and a short report about what the people do to celebrate the specific holiday. I give them in class time, usually about 30 mins. 3 or 4
times the first and second week and they present on the 3rd week. I have them sign up for a morning or an afternoon to present. Sometimes they will bring a guest speaker. This year I have a boy from France, a boy from Lebanon, and a girl from Russia so they already know what they will be working on. They could also teach the class a song to sing. If they
need help, I have created folders on various countries to get ideas. I add to these yearly because my students give me some of my best ideas. At the end of the year when we reflect on the year this project is usually top on the list of favorites.
1)Collect heart shaped containers (old candy boxes are great) to use as storage containers.
2)Pre-cut hearts in pink, red, fushias, violet in sizes of 1/2, 3/4, 1, 2, and 3 inches. Place each size in different box.
3)Have a folder with 9 by 12 white construction paper.
4)Decorate a file box or empty copy paper box by covering with Valentine gift paper and place the supplies inside.
5)Place the following student instructions on top or side or box.
HEART TO HEART
You are to create a nature picture (animals, plants, trees, flowers) with only hearts. Use the various sizes to create the parts of each item. You may use lines to connect the hearts. Use at least 20 hearts of different sizes. Each picture should have at least 3 items. You may then use your crayons or pencils to color an appropriate background for your picture.
When you are finished, create a title which contains the word "heart" for your masterpiece. Write it neatly at the bottom and sign your name.
6)The "reward" for finishing the heart picture is some candy, of course!
Columbus Day Center
a study sheet about Columbus's first Voyage containing 5 events to number in order a map showing Columbus's route
black line drawings of his 3 ships miscellaneous prints of sailing ships of the period
small pieces of paper that fit the popsicle stick frame
Students read the data on the sheet and number the sentences in correct order and put sheet in folder or envelope
1. On Aug. 12, the men reach the Canary Islands. They stay until Sept. 6.
2. On October 12, 1492, the ships land and Columbus goes ashore on San Salvador Island.
3. On August 3, 1492, Columbus's three ships sail from Palos Spain.
4. On Sept. 23, the men see a dove, but have not seen land for two weeks.
5. On Sept. 30, the men have not seen land for three weeks.
Students then draw one of Columbus's three ships on the small paper, color it, make a frame for it from the popsicles sticks, and glue the picture to the frame. Hang all the pictures on a bulletin board.
Last year before Thanksgiving weekend, I had my students write letters to the people they were thankful for. Their only homework over the weekend was to give the letters to the people they were written to (if possible). I know this sounds very simple, but many of the parents mentioned how much they liked it and how much they appreciated it.
To celebrate the Millennium I have made a center with lots of
different activities. I started out by cutting a science fair presentation board in half so it makes two short boards. That gives me two centers for the price of one board. I used the cover from the book The Story of Clocks and Calendars: Marking the Millennium by Betsy Maestro. Then I made miniature copies of some of the activity pages from Understanding a Millennium by Gary Grimm and John Artman. I
made them about a quarter of their regular size and mounted them on black construction paper. I also used a 2000 calendar. I arranged all these on the board for an interesting design. Then I had some of the worksheets, about
half size, for the kids to do. I also found a Millennium Millie doll from Oriental Trading Co. I made a book for her titled The Adventures of Millennium Millie. This can be checked out to have Millenium Adventures with the kids which they write about. Two other books I used for ideas were This Book is About Time by Marilyn Burns and Celebrate the Millennium by Susan Moger. There is a sheet which gives the
directions and tells which activities the students can choose from to complete the center.I got the start of this idea from a Teacher Created Materials workshop on Centers for the Middle Grades.