With the holiday season upon us there is a lot of excitement in the classroom. Students come in each day ready to tell me about their Elf that is hiding around their house, stories of baking cookies, shopping for presents and lots of other holiday traditions. At school I also have a tradition of exploring holidays around the world with students.
Last year as a second grade teacher I went all out to cover the holidays. Since the seven continents are part of the social studies curriculum it was a perfect fit. I covered thirteen different countries over the course of December. Each day I pretended to be a pilot, checked student made passports to put stamps in, and showed not only videos from different places but take off and landing videos so we could all pretend to actually be flying from place to place. A simple, let’s get ready for social studies was greeted with students quickly grabbing their passports and lining up at the door ready for take off. In fact this year I had a student who was in my class last year (I moved up to third grade) come up and anxiously asked me, “Are we going to do that holiday thing again?” When I responded that we would do something like it he responded with a resounding, “Yesssss!” No pressure right?!
This year I took a slightly different and more advanced spin on the idea of holidays around the world. To tie in more reading and writing this year students are each choosing a country of their choice to do a more in depth look at how people there celebrate the holidays. I created a research guide for them to use to hopefully make this process a bit easier (you can grab a copy of it in my TpT store). Each day before beginning to research I do a mini lesson that connects back to nonfiction text, which happens to be the genre we are currently studying. I also do a mini lesson on some element of writing informational text, note taking, or something else they will need for writing an informational piece.
In addition to a written component, synthesizing the information they have learned, students will also have a creative part to complete. Their choices are to create a Google Slide presentation, make a brochure, or make a video (incorporating our new green screen!) to share information they have learned with others. We just discussed these final projects the other day and there was a lot of excitement around the green screen option. Does this surprise me, no. I mean who wouldn’t want to use the latest and greatest piece of equipment in the room?! But I did want to be sure to provide options that would appeal to all types of learners. I can’t wait to see how their projects turn out!
Since announcing this project there has been a buzz of excitement. Students were eager to start researching and give a little cheer each time I say we will be doing writing. Now that is what I am looking for when starting a new project. Students should be excited about the work they do in school. It should capture their interest and have purpose. I’m hoping that this holiday season will be filled with more joy both at home and at school for my students.