Holidays

Ag_socstudies_holidays

Build a scene to illustrate the events or significance of a particular holiday
Grades K-6

National holidays have been established to commemorate historic events and important people. The President and Congress have designated ten federal holidays: New Year's, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. While a few of the holidays are religious, most commemorate significant events or people in American history. The establishment of these special days encourages Americans to reflect on the events being commemorated.

All holidays have symbols associated with them. Some even have slogans.  The history of some of the holiday symbols has become obscured over time, while the relevance of other symbols is more obvious. For instance, a hatchet is a symbol of Presidents' Day, dating back to the time when Presidents Day was Washington's Birthday. The hatchet related to the apocryphal story of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree. A more recently established holiday, Martin Luther King Day, is often associated with the phrase from his famous speech, ``I have a dream!'' Discussion of some of the symbols or phrases associated with a particular holiday is one way to examine the holiday's importance in American culture.

Preparation
During the initial discussion it may be helpful to have illustrations of some of the symbols associated with the particular holiday being studied. Students will need writing materials for their sentences.

Procedure
The teacher provides a brief history of the holiday being studied.  The history should include the events that led to the establishment of the holiday, how the holiday changed over time, and some of the symbolism associated with that particular day.

Students volunteer examples of symbolism associated with the holiday, as well as examples of how their own family commemorates the day.

Students use the Blocks to build a scene that symbolizes that particular holiday.

Students write sentences to describe the symbolism they have chosen to represent that holiday (this activity is for older students).

Evaluation
Students are evaluated on their use symbols to represent the holiday being studied. The use of   symbols should be both creative and reflective of the day in question, the events that prompted the holiday, or the person being commemorated.

Students are also assessed on their written explanations of the symbolism they chose to represent the holiday.

Extensions
Students choose a historical event or a cause that is not commemorated by a federal holiday, and they use the Blocks to create a collage of symbols and sayings that symbolize that day. For instance, women's suffrage, be kind to pets, and teacher appreciation could all be the themes of new holidays.

Students use the Blocks to create a holiday flag. The flag should incorporate the appropriate symbols in an uncluttered way and, if desired, a motto or saying can be included. Flags can be printed out and mounted.

Students use the Blocks to create a symbolic scene for each holiday during the year. At the end, the printouts are put together for a holiday timeline.

Students use the Blocks to create a card for a particular holiday, such as Valentine`s Day. An appropriate greeting or poem should be written as part of the card.

Each student uses the Blocks to create a collage to commemorate his or her birthday.

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