Monday, 30 April 2012

Teaching by the Season - a thematic approach to holidays.

I have always been drawn to teaching by the season - a thematic approach. I don't know why... Perhaps it's because in days gone by our calendar was governed by the seasons, farming, the church, special holidays etc.

I love planning for Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, spring, end of school year, autumn, Hallowe'en, Guy Fawkes and winter. Teaching takes on a whole different aspect when coupled with a theme. And it makes it so much more exciting for the children.

What I sometimes struggle with is the fact that we teach through the medium of these wonderful themes, but often forget to teach the true meaning behind the theme itself. And yes, I hold my hands up, I'm as guilty as the next person here.

Take Mother's Day for example. I use Mother's Day as an example for two reasons:
  1. We have already celebrated Mother's Day here in the UK as it's a religious thing held on "Refreshment Sunday", the Sunday smack bang in the middle of Lent in the lead up to Easter. It was March this year.
  2. In the USA Mother's Day is exactly what it says on the tin - a celebration of mothers. But what's behind it?
If you asked Joe Bloggs on the street about the meaning of Mother's Day over here, he would tell you it's cards, flowers and chocolates to show their mum how much they care. Traditionally schools will focus on making a card and maybe a craftivity. But it's more than that.

Intrigued, I wanted to find out a little more about Mother's Day in the USA. Yes, it's much the same in terms of commercialisation nowadays, but it also holds a fascinating history which adds an interesting slant.

USA is indebted to one lady, Anna Jarvis, who, singlehandedly and through her own persuasion, managed to begin the long and worthy tradition of honouring mothers all across USA. No mean feat.

We should never forget the story behind the tradition. Teach our children wisely so that they might appreciate and cherish their rich cultural heritage and in turn uphold and promote it with their own children.

I have been working on a pack of activities with exactly those aims in mind. It is a reading and writing comprehension activity that teaches them about the history of Mother's Day, helps them to debate key issues and develops their own persuasive writing.

After learning about Anna Jarvis and how Mother's Day was established, children work in two teams to argue for and against the commercialisation of Mother's Day, taking on roles of reporter, editor, researcher, mentor etc. They present their arguments and peer-assess the other team's performance.

Then the children finish off by writing a newspaper article.

Clicking on the button will take you directly to the pack.

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