Holidays kindergarten lessons

Photo by Alexandra Retter 

 

Jefferson Elementary School students Katelynn Reps (left) and Heidi Hang learn about holiday traditions from around the world in teacher Amber Scott’s kindergarten classroom.

by ALEXANDRA RETTER 

 

In perfect unison, the kindergarten students repeated the word “poinsettia.” With eyes locked on their teacher, Amber Scott, the students learned about holiday traditions in Mexico, such as poinsettias and pinatas. Throughout December, students in Scott’s classroom at Jefferson Elementary School study holidays from around the world.

Students pretend to travel to a new country each day. Using Google Earth, they “fly” from place to place. They also get a pretend postcard from a child describing how they are going to celebrate the holiday in their country. 

Over the course of the month, students gain an understanding of holidays including Diwali, Hanukkah, Epiphany, Kwanzaa and Chinese New Year. They also learn how Christmas and New Year’s are celebrated in different countries.

Scott hopes students learn from these lessons to accept others and be respectful of all cultures and traditions. When children are introduced to various cultures early in their lives, they are more easily able to be accepting of others and adaptable, she said. “Having kids be aware of other cultures is really important,” she said.

The lessons focus on many of the holidays involving light and some meanings tied to it, such looking to the future and setting goals, Scott said. The lessons also center on many U.S. traditions coming from other cultures.

Students learn about Kwanzaa’s roots in African American history. Additionally, they learn about Christmas traditions from throughout the globe, such as the story of families hiding a pickle ornament in Christmas trees to have children search for coming from Germany. Scott recreates this tradition by hiding a pickle toy in her room for students to find. They also learn about La Befana, a friendly holiday witch from Italy. 

To celebrate New Year’s in Spain, Scott shared with her students, people eat 12 grapes before midnight, one each second over the 12 seconds before the new year. 

Scott invites fellow educators and students to join the celebration. A teacher for the Rios Spanish Immersion Program who is from Spain taught students about New Year’s traditions in her home country. Another of Scott’s colleagues knows someone from Germany, so the friend virtually talks with students about German holiday celebrations. Though interns from other countries were not able to come to the district this year for the Rios program, they have shared their traditions from places such as El Salvador in the past, too. A student from Russia last year described the holidays there and showcased nesting dolls. “Being able to have the kids included in that learning is what makes it fun for me,” Scott said.

After students travel to another country for the day, they work on their research books. In these packets, they complete fill-in-the-blank questions, for example, about the holiday they studied that day. “We try to hit as many continents and as many holidays as we can,” Scott said. 

Education@winonapost.com