Saturday, December 17, 2022

Fun Christmas Traditions Around the World

The smell of freshly baked holiday cookies! Whether you are celebrating religious festivals like Christmas or a more secular occasion, you often have your own selection of special traditions that makes your family’s holiday special.  Around the world, there are some beautiful Christmas traditions like carol singing and decorating the home. But there are also, some traditions that are fun and even spooky. Let’s travel around the world to discover some of these extraordinary traditions that are sure to put a smile on your kids, from decorating the trees with spider web ornaments to hiding your mops and brooms. 

Would you like some porridge on Christmas Eve morning? Food is important during the festive season and eating porridge may not be the first thing that is on your wish list. Finish families traditionally eat rice porridge,  topped with cinnamon, milk, or butter. An almond is hidden inside the porridge and the person who finds “wins” and will have good luck.

 Porridge might sound fine but what about going to KFC? In Japan, “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” is an important part of Christmas. People go to KFC, the fast food chain, to eat fried chicken. Every year, on Christmas Eve, KFC in Japan records the highest sales volume. 

Reindeers flying across the sky delivering gifts might sound magical but what about Christmas spiders? Spider web ornaments are used to decorate trees in Ukraine. The spider web decorations are said to bring good luck. According to the tale, a poor woman found her tree covered with sparking spider webs when she couldn't afford an ornament to decorate her tree with. She thought the tree looks stunning especially when the webs glittered in the winter sun. In Poland and German, it's good luck to find a spider or spider web in the Christmas tree. 

A cute cat for Christmas may be on many children’s wish lists. Yet, the Icelandic member of the Christmas Police is anything but cuddling. Jólakötturinn eats children who haven't done their chores. If you don't carry out your chores you not only don't get new clothes for Christmas but you also get eaten by the Christmas cat. 

Admittedly, not a fun tradition but this one from Norway might put a smile on your face. Hiding brooms and mops might simply mean that you don't have to clean your room. Yet, Norwegians are a bit superstitious and they believe that evil spirits may go joyriding in the Christmas sky. The evil spirits return to Earth during Christmas and they steal brooms to go racing. So hiding the mops and brooms is a way of stopping them.

A fun tradition from Slovakia and parts of Ukraine is to throw a spoonful of pudding at the ceiling. The more pudding that sticks, the more luck you’ll have. There is of course a  downside to this tradition. Only the oldest male member of member is allowed to predict the future.

Wishing all my readers a fun and safe Festive Season! And make sure that you also add a pickle to your Christmas tree. If you find the hidden ornament in the shape of a pickle you’ll get an extra present or a lot of good fortune. This tradition could be of German origin but most likely it is a mixture of tales from Germany and Spain. A great project is to further look into this fun tradition! 

I truly hope you enjoy these wonderful Christmas legends from around the world! Merry Christmas! 

Thursday, December 1, 2022

December 2022 Products

 It might be difficult to get your students to focus on certain things during December but it's a great chance to talk about how other people around the world celebrate Christmas. Christmas around the world brings in social studies lessons, diversity lessons and a chance for your kids to explore how people live around the world. 

If you are stressing about coming up with exciting lesson plans for December take a closer look at the Fact Booklets Christmas in France, Italy or Russia. Teach your kids about traditions and expose them to a variety of cultures like Christmas in Germany, the Netherlands or Spain. Carrying out research on how Christmas is celebrated in England may put smiles of recognition since we in the US have adopted many of their traditions. But there are also several surprises and new things to discover. 

Reading about Reindeer is also a perfect activity during December. There is a wide selection of fiction books that you can use. There are, however, several benefits of using non-fiction in the classroom. Providing your kids with engaging topics like Reindeer can be used for research and discussions. If you are looking for a great way to combine reading non-fiction and art, take a look at my The Nutcracker Fact booklet. It has apart from facts about this popular Christmas ballet also Nutcracker craftivities. Creating and decorating a Nutcracker is great fun! Are you looking for more activities to inspire your kids to use art this Festive Season - look at my How to Draw Christmas.

Create a December with Fun-Filled and Engaging Learning Opportunities!  All products are found in my store.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Then and Now!

Change! Some changes happen quickly, such as the new growth of leaves on trees.   Others happen very slowly, like the fruits ripening on a fruit tree. Exploring the changes that have occurred from the past to the present is an exciting theme that is perfect for November. 

Changes in a lot of different areas can be investigated such as transport, toys, cooking, education and technology. Young students do not always grasp the concept of everyday life changes and the idea that people and animals lived differently 100 years ago may be difficult to understand. 

You can start a project about Then and Now by asking your students if they have seen any changes in their community such as new stores, houses or schools. This may be a first step to comparing and contrasting life in the past with life in the present. Sending a Fact Booklet home with students to read is also a helpful way to engage family members to share their experiences with their kids.

By using a variety of materials and resources in the project you can demonstrate how education and technology have changed. The Fact Booklet Then and Now is perfect for using pencils while Digital Task Cards, Boom Cards, shows how technological developments have led to the use of tablets, desktops and mobile devices in the classroom. Your students can enhance their Then and Now vocabulary or practice their math skills by adding, subtracting, exploring concepts such as shortest, longest, or exploring picture graph information. The design of these digital task cards uses a mixture of graphics to further enhance their understanding of what things that were used in the past and what is used today.

This November make sure that every child is given the wish to learn. Happy November Teaching! 

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Tuesday, November 1, 2022

November 2022 Products

Your students may wonder why people should vote and this is the perfect question for introducing a project about Voting Time. In the US, Election Day is held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.  Use a Fact Booklet to support your students to find out more about this day. Making your own Voting Hat is an educational activity that your students will enjoy. Check out my resource Election Time Activities for more inspiration and educational eye-opening activities. Use Write the Room to enhance your students’ vocabulary and also to get them moving. Pictures of ballots, voting boxes and party mascots can be used as inspiration for writing a story about Election Day.

Thanksgiving is celebrated at the end of November so there is plenty of time during November to learn to draw  Thanksgiving Day. Students grow in confidence when you use Directed Drawing activities and the drawings are perfect for illustrating the findings when using a Fact Booklet about Thanksgiving or Pilgrims. Color by Code activities is educational and fun! Students love watching the images associated with Thanksgiving emerge while practicing sight words, numbers, addition, and subtraction. A brilliant way to work on fine motor skills!

You might also like to learn more about Indigenous Americans during this month. A project about Indigenous Americans is perfect during November which is called Indigenous Americans Month. A great opportunity to increase awareness of historical contributions and realities of Indigenous Americans. A chance to learn about the varying traditions and to enhance awareness to better understand the present experiences of Indigenous Americans. 

Use the Storybook Companion Cactus or Stone Soup to compare different versions of the same story and get a glimpse of Mexican culture, crafts, and foods. The book Cactus Soup is a version of the story Stone Soup. This book has a Mexican twist making it a perfect way to move over to December where your students can explore how holidays are celebrated in Mexico. But first, enjoy all the wonderful learning opportunities that November offers! 

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Sunday, October 16, 2022

What can we learn from pumpkins?

October and the pumpkins are everywhere! The traditional color of pumpkins is bright orange. But students will discover if they carry out their own research that there are red, white, blue and green pumpkins. Today, pumpkins are associated with Thanksgiving as well as Halloween.

Pumpkin carving is the traditional way that many people celebrate Halloween. Carving is a rather simple thing to do but there are of course master carvers who create fantastic art from the ordinary fruit.  The tradition to carve a Jack-o-Lantern comes from an Irish myth about Stingy Jack. He tricked the devil so God did not allow Jack into heaven and the devil did not let him into hell. Jack is forced to wander around and people in Ireland started to carve faces out of turnips to frighten Jack away. 

The delicious smell of pumpkin soup is a sign of October. But how do you make pumpkin soup? And what else can you make from pumpkins? Students love using a Fact Booklet to learn about this special fruit!

Yes, pumpkins are actually a fruit and not a vegetable. So even if the pumpkins that we eat in October are not sweet, pumpkins grow from the flowering part of the plant and hold their seeds in their flesh.  The word pumpkin comes from the Greek word   “peopon”, which in English, translates to “large melon”. Many fruits are used as vegetables like pumpkins and tomatoes. 

Students love it if you give them a variety of activities from counting pumpkins and seeds to picking out pumpkin geometrical shapes and recognizing the different steps in the lifecycle of the pumpkin. Seasonal resources provide a real-life connection so they grab students’ attention. 

We are often impressed by giant pumpkins. But is the bigger roundest pumpkin the best? Well, size and shape are important but a small and crooked pumpkin can be delicious. Kids tend to pick unique pumpkins if you go to the pumpkin patch. They love unique colors and shapes. So maybe a bit surprisingly pumpkins can even teach us about the importance of diversity when you socialize and make friends. Who wants to be friends with the person who stands out? The humble pumpkins offer your students great opportunities to grow and develop as humans! 

Wishing you a Happy and Colorful October!
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