One of the things I’m really enjoying is that it gives me a chance to think deeply about how to use the resources in the classroom. As I was uploading this awesome New Holiday Activity I realized that this could be a one-off creative worksheet as the authors intended.
But it could also spark a discussion comparing holiday traditions. You could even use it as the beginning of a project to design a fully-fleshed out celebration. And then use some of the ideas from everyone’s holiday for your end-of-class or end-of-year party!
Expanding the Project
In the activity as written, students pick a name of a holiday, the date, the reason for it, the activities, any traditions, and the food. However, you can follow-up this up by having students draw costumes or decorations on the back. They might even want to draw out parade routes or traditional dance steps.
Now you can have students share their holidays with each other in pairs or small groups. Be sure that the partners are asking each other questions about their holidays. Students can be asking questions in order to improve their partners’ clarity or to help them include more detail.
Questions that help improve clarity might be, “When do the fireworks happen? Why do people put lights on their houses?”
Questions that help the writer add detail include, “Do the dancers wear special costumes? What kind of food do people have? Can the parade happen any time?”
After talking to a partner, students can revise their holiday ideas. Then they can redo the worksheet or even turn their work into a short essay. If possible, you can even have them do presentations on their holidays. Encourage them to include some “traditions” and activities, within reasonable limits.
Another variation is to use this activity to discuss different ways of celebrating an existing holiday. This works well with one students love to celebrate. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Eid al-Fitr , Hanukkah, Easter, and Sukkot, and New Years, Spring Festival come to mind when I think of my students!
In this case, students would write the name of the real holiday, but then think about how their family celebrates it. They may be surprised to discover the many different ways people celebrate the same holiday. It’s also worth having students compare what they think the meaning of the holiday is. Again, there may be more diversity there than you’d think.
The above activity assumes students are all from the same culture or are in homogeneous groups. Alternatively, you can put students in mixed groups and have them compare events that are usually celebrated, such as weddings, birthdays, or retirements. Or they can talk about a type of holiday such as new years or one where we give thanks. What’s the big holiday where kids get presents? Which holiday involves family sharing a big meal? What similarities and differences exist? I’m always amazed when I do things like this with my students how every culture has special rules for the elderly, for example. Grandpa’s chair or the good chair seems to have a parallel worldwide!