Halloween is coming up, and it’s a hard one to ignore in the classroom. Sure, you can always use the traditional cut and paste pumpkin activity, but let’s think about how we can capture students’ excitement and use it to deepen thinking and increase knowledge?
Teaching students about the first Thanksgiving feast is standard fare in the primary grades, yet there is a gold mine of fascinating information about the origin of Thanksgiving’s date. It’s a bizarre history that will intrigue your students and could lead down some interesting avenues!
This year, I changed one requirement. Students had to compose a haiku as the body of their card. This gave me a chance to introduce a type of poetry that I like to use throughout the year, while still maintaining the purpose of expressing unexpected thankfulness to someone.
Naturally, the origin of a topic is a great place to start, and the Christmas tree has quite a twisty, knotted history. Some trace the roots of the tree-decorating tradition back to ancient winter celebrations. However, the use of decorated trees as a Christmas-specific decoration is surprisingly new, appearing in the last 500 years or so.
Looking at calendars throughout history is an interesting way to explore multiple perspectives. Nothing is as ingrained in our lives as seven day weeks, twelve months, and 365 days per year. Challenge your students’ perceptions by investigating various solar, lunar, and lunisolar calendars.
Let’s write a persuasive essay about one holiday from the point of view of another holiday’s “mascot.” For example, what would the Easter Bunny think about Christmas, how would Santa feel about Valentine’s Day, and what would a Turkey have to say about St. Patrick’s Day?
Let’s remix a famous Christmas poem, give it a Thanksgiving theme, and teach our students advanced poetry concepts at the same time
Now we’re going to create our own holiday-themed Shakespearean Sonnet. To add complexity (and help our students get started!), we’ll write from the point of view of a specific holiday decoration, tradition, or character.
We take it for granted that January 1st is the start of a new year, but this was not the case for most of history. Stretch your students’ ability to think from multiple perspectives by discussing the various dates people have celebrated the new year.
Three quick thoughts on classroom activities for Martin Luther King, Jr’s upcoming holiday.