Holidays and Observances: Looking at Diversity and Culture
What We Already Know
Writing About a Favorite Holiday
Research on Holidays
Making a Display about Holidays
Introductory Activity: What We Already Know
What is a holiday?
- break the class into small groups or pairs
- have them answer the following questions
What is a holiday?
Why do we have holidays?
What are different kinds of holidays?
What kind of things do people do to celebrate or acknowledge holidays?
- Have each group report back to the class
- Write a group composition or paragraph about holidays in general
Activity 1: Writing About a Favorite Holiday
- Brainstorm a group list of different holidays on the blackboard
- Write a list of adjectives on another part of the blackboard: happy,
serious, religious, simple, important, political, traditional, historical,
merry, fun, minor, ritualistic. Ask students if they can think of any
other words that could describe a holiday.
- Match the holidays and the adjectives. You can ask students to write
it all down themselves, do it as a group, or make handouts with the
holidays and the adjectives already printed on them.
Give students some index cards. Ask each student to write down their three
favorite holidays on each of three cards. (Refer to the list the group made
for the Introductory Activities)
students to write a sentence or two about each holiday.
students to pick the one holiday they want to write about.
Ask students to close their eyes and remember a happy time they celebrated
that holiday. Help them remember by guiding them to think about when this
was, who was there, where they were, what they did, what they ate, what
they heard, etc.
Have students draw a picture or make a collage of that good memory. Tell
them it doesnt matter if they arent artists. This
activity is just to get their thoughts moving. (Materials such as markers,
crayons, construction paper, old magazines, and ribbon can make this more
Break students into pairs and have them explain their artwork.
Have students write the story of the time in the picture.
Share the writing in groups.
Ask for volunteers to read their stories to the whole class.
Activity 2: Research on Holidays
students review a big list of holidays. It can be the list you made in the
"Introductory activities or this one:
- Ask each student to divide the groups list into two lists: the
holidays they know about and the ones they either never heard of or
dont know much about.
- Ask each student to draw a circle around the three holidays they would
like to know more about.
- Ask the class to share which holidays they know about and which ones
students do some research on the holidays they dont know about. Students
can work in groups, pairs or independently. (You probably need to offer
a little guidance here. If someone picks Ramadan to research, they will
have plenty of information to review. If someone picks Sweetest Day, you
might want to steer the student towards another choice where their will
be more to explore.)
Here are some questions for students to answer:
- When is this holiday?
- Is this holiday on the same day every year?
- Where is this holiday celebrated?
- Who celebrates this holiday?
- For how long has this holiday been celebrated?
- What is the meaning of this holiday?
- What customs go with this holiday?
- Is there special food, decorations, or clothing associated with this
students write a report based on their research.
Ask students to read their reports to each other in small groups. Have students
respond by saying what they just learned about the holiday and asking questions.
Each student should leave the group with at least two new questions to answer.
students do more research to answer the questions.
students revise their reports to incorporate new information.
Have students read their reports again in the same small groups.
Culminating Activity: Making a Display about
Holidays and Culture.
(Everyone should have two pieces of writing one from each of the activities
above. Students will use both of them in this activity. )
Make a list of all the holidays that students wrote about on the blackboard.
Have students raise their hands and count how many people wrote about each
Break up students into groups based on which holidays they wrote about.
If there are holidays that only one person wrote about, put all of those
into a group called Other Holidays.
Ask each group create a display for each holiday and/or for the Other
Holidays. Ask students to organize what they have already written,
and write captions and summaries.
Put the displays up on the walls or on tables.
Put a blank sheet of paper next to each display so students can write comments.
Have students circulate, reviewing the displays and writing comments.
Note: The nature of your display will depend on your students. If everyone
celebrates and knows about the same holidays, your display will be more
uniform. If everyone knows about and wrote about different holidays, you
will have a different kind of display.
There are pretty many fun activities about holidays on Web sites. Have students
do a search for holidays they havent written about or take this online
(OPTIONAL -- Include real-world actions students can take to follow through
on lesson concepts. These include activities such as interviews, community
based art projects, performances, portfolios and letter or email writing
to relevant government, academic or business personnel. For additional insight
into community-based projects, go to the "Making Family and Community
Connections" @ http://www.thirteen.org/wnetschool/concept2class/month9