- Grade level: Upper Elementary
- Subject Area: Language Arts, Social Studies
In this unit, students will learn about the values and traditions of particular countries, cultures, and groups through exploration of a holiday of their choice. A holiday is a day on which normal, everyday activity is suspended so that people can acknowledge a special historical, religious, or cultural event. Students are encouraged to select a holiday to study that is relevant to them, either because they celebrate it in their homes, or because they want to learn more about the country, culture, or group that celebrates it. Each student has the opportunity to give a presentation about the holiday she or he has chosen, either on or close to the day on which it falls during the school year. Students discuss the common characteristics of holidays and, on the basis of these characteristics, devise their own classroom holiday that they will then celebrate with other classes.
- Learn more about a country, culture, or group through the exploration of a holiday of their choice.
- Develop a better understanding of why certain historical or cultural events have meaning for certain people, recognizing that different people find different events significant.
- Discuss the characteristics that are common to all or most holidays, despite differences among them.
- Devise a classroom holiday that they can share with another classroom.
- Use the Internet for research.
- Practice their writing skills.
Materials and Resources
In developing our lessons and activities, we made some assumptions about the hardware and software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit the LETSNet Website. We assume that teachers using our Internet-based lessons or activities have a computer (PC or Macintosh) with the necessary hardware components (mouse, keyboard, and monitor) as well as software (operating system, TCP/IP software, networking or dial-up software, e-mail and a World Wide Web client program, preferably Netscape, but perhaps Mosaic or Lynx). In the section below, we specify any "special" hardware or software requirements for a lesson or activity (in addition to those described above) and the level of Internet access required to do the activity.
- Special hardware requirements: server space for completed projects (optional)
- Special software requirements: integrated multimedia software package such as ClarisWorks or Director (optional)
- Internet access: Medium-speed (28,000 BPS via modem) or High-speed (greater than 1 MBPS via network).
Unit Lesson Plans
- Lesson One: Selecting and Investigating a Holiday. Students use the Internet resources provided and their own searches to select and investigate a holiday of interest to them.
- Lesson Two: Presentation of Findings. Students create Web-based, multimedia, or text-based documents of their research findings for presentation to the class when their holiday occurs.
- Lesson Three: Discussion of Common Characteristics of Holidays. Based on the research they have conducted, students participate in a group discussion that helps them see the characteristics each of the holidays they have investigated has in common with the others.
- Lesson Four: Creation of a Classroom Holiday. Based on the research they have conducted and the discussion in Lesson Three, students invent a holiday for their classroom, including name, customs, songs, foods, and other defining characteristics.
- Lesson Five: Sharing the Classroom Holiday. Students invite classes, both in their school and in remote locations, to join them in celebrating their classroom holiday.
Relation to Standards
We have drawn on the historical thinking standards outlined by the National Center for History in the Schools as well as evolving standards for K-12 language arts from the National Council of English Teachers (NCET). We feel that these standards provide excellent guidelines for teachers on how to focus social sciences work in their classrooms.
One Computer vs. Many
The plans for this unit are tailored to fit teaching situations where students have access to several computers with an Internet connection. To accommodate classrooms that do not have access to a computer lab with full Internet connections, students can work in research groups to explore Internet sites and conduct their research.
If you have only one computer with Internet access, you may choose to do one of the following:
- If you have the technology, you may hook up the computer to a TV monitor or LCD projector. This will allow the whole class to see sites in the preliminary stages when students are exploring sites created by other children.
- You may choose to have students rotate through computer with Internet access in groups.
- You may also download files from the Internet and save them to a disk. Then transfer Netscape [http://home.netscape.com] onto your other computers. Now you can transfer the files you down-loaded and saved to a disk to the other non-internet computers to view with Netscape. This will not allow students to explore the pages with hyper-links, but they will be able to access and view the information by opening each file with Netscape.