Wednesday, January 25, 2012

<<<<<< REWIND: Christmas Projects

This post is utterly embarrassingly late!
I know.
But I hope it gives some good ideas for someone.
I couldn't not share it!
Plus, I had all the pictures :)
Christmas ideas are some of my favorite!
Thanks for putting up with my blog procrastination and hectic schedule **

    Every year I put a pause on American History and do a mini-unit on "Christmas Around the World." To find out what the teaching lessons and centers are like see post "Christmas Celebrations."
     For our big Christmas project, we discuss how everyone one in the classroom has a different heritage/background which help create the diversity that has become America (the tie in to our 5th grade benchmark of American History - wink). I encourage the kids to go home and figure out where their families "roots" are from - specifically a country that is NOT America. We discuss how, unless you are a Native American, your family originated from someplace else. Of course, I always get a few students/parents who fill in that their background is Mississippi/New York/Alabama ... then I have the student analyze their characteristics (tie it into our science benchmark *What What!*) and figure out at least which continent their family most likely originated. From there, I simply let them choose a country because the next step is for them to research their country and how people there celebrate Christmas, or a similar holiday. We create mini reports, type them up, and I have the students create (home project) a HOME MADE (nothing store bought) ornament depicting a unique holiday tradition from their country. The students also have to present their ornament, it's significance, and read their mini report to the class. Last, we ask the families to prepare something unique or fun from that culture for us to try at our Christmas party "WORLD FOOD EXPO." We get all sorts of snacks from genuine cultural cuisine from Italy, Spain, Africa, etc. to root beer or pickles representing Germany. I LOVE it! The more creative the better! December also happens to be 5th grades hallway bulletin board month and so we display all these projects along with a map I created with fun Christmas/Winter holiday facts from around the world.                                                        
^ Pictures with a unique "Fun" facts for different countries
We "hung" their ornaments on the board
 The kids mini reports
I was SO proud at how the students homemade ornaments turned out! Here are just a few of my favorite ...
German "Pickle" Ornament
 The Irish "Candle in the Window" Ornament
 The English "mumming doll" 
(just the head, but if you look up mummers doll the hoods look JUST like this!)
 The French "Yule Log"
A "Porcupine Star" ornament - traditional to Poland! 
     Sitting through student presentations can be quite painful for both the nervous presenter and the bored listener ... so I try and change them up as much as I can. While I know in some schools this practice would be frowned upon, I have not had any one share concern about allowing a student to stand on their chair to  present. I like it because it is different, and kids need different. It also gives them "permission"  to do something that you KNOW they would like to do but think they never can. Third, it gives them something to look forward to in their presentation instead of  just fear that they have to talk up front.
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