Three Celebration Options to Add Spark to Your Next Unit

06 December 2015 / Leave a Comment
Each year, our community hosts a holiday parade the first Saturday in December (and it's happening in about an hour from now). This event reminded me of a great idea the fourth grade teacher in my building sponsored last year during American Education Week for her social studies students celebrating the many great tourism options in our state. Celebrations, whether they are for content areas, literacy, math, or just for fun, provide learning opportunities for our families, motivate children to extend learning beyond the classroom, and help parents feel connected to what's happening in the classroom. There is a ton of research showing that parental involvement is an integral part of children's success in school, so today, I thought I'd talk about ways to celebrate learning with your students. I hope these ideas will encourage you to plan something for and with your students.

The first project I introduced was aimed at Virginia Studies which is taught in fourth grade in our school division. Prior to this project, the students had learned quite a bit, and this project was the culminating activity at the end of a grading period. Here are the details on the projects:

The Assignment
Create a parade float using a tissue box as the base for your float, two pencils or dowels for the axles, and four wheels to make it movable. Include features of the tourist site to make it clear where your float is from, and create a travel brochure to go with the float telling about the location.
As I viewed the floats, I was amazed, and as I mentioned, I thought it would be a neat idea for a parental involvement event too. Imagine how neat it would be to create a float about Pinkalious or Nate the Great

Literacy Book Fair
Another options teachers might try are trifold display projects like these projects completed later in the year. These were created by students in grades 2 and up, and the idea came Mandy at Read. Write. Mom!. Definitely check out her page if you want to use this idea.

For some students, the trifold display was just too much to manage. You can make a smaller scale version with a lapbook using two file folders stapled together, or you might have students complete a shoebox project like this one that a second grader did with her mom. They loved the Eloise books (and so do I!). With a little scrapbooking paper, a glue gun, and a few pieces of doll furniture, the display was complete, and the little girl was so proud to have it on display. The best part...she and her mom enjoyed discussing the book as the made the project together. 

At our school, we hosted this event during our annual Scholastic Book Fair. The projects were all on display as the parents and grandparents were in the building for special lunches, etc. In my opinion, timing events like this serves two purposes:  parental involvement AND book recommendations for others. It was great listening to the students exchange ideas and talk about what they loved about the books they'd chosen.

History Night
The last suggestion I thought I'd share is one from my previous school. In Virginia, our students have a long list of important people to learn about as well as lots of details to keep straight for history. To help the children keep it all straight and to help important details "stick", my school gave the students three options for our annual History Night. They were allowed to join a wax museum of historical figures (and they dressed up like that person, memorized a speech, and had a "play button" that they held.) If someone tapped the button, they recited their speeches. Another option was the map room.  In this room, students shared maps they created of the colonies, Civil War battles, and so on. Finally, there was a project room, and this was set up similar to the literacy projects I mentioned with trifold displays and other 3-dimensional projects.

How do celebrations go in your school?  Do you have a few options that you offer your students? Please take a moment and share them. I'd love to get a few ideas myself!  

Until next time, happy reading and celebrating (the holidays that is!)


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