Teaching the Holidays all Year Long

As I wrote about in my Activism blog entry below, I am always hesitant to take time out of my annual curriculum map (Yes, I am that OCD) to stop everything for a "Holiday Lesson."  At the elementary level, I completely understand the celebrations, and having seen my husband bring holidays alive in his elementary school, I would not contradict that decision at all.  However, at the middle and high school level, I simply want to address the holiday topics all day, every day, all year long.  Whether it is Black History Month or President's Day or Women's History Month, I want to be teaching the history of ALL people every day. 

With that said, I often create lessons or activities that address the everyone or the contributions of many over those of just ONE.  I love for my students to be able to compare and contrast the lives and contributions of many great people, and to be able to apply their life lessons to their own lives.  In the end, I always want them to be asking theirselves:  "What contribution can I make in this world?"

For those of you celebrating and teaching about Black History Month, take a different approach.  Read my Activism blog entry to get ideas and lesson activities that will open students' eyes to the every day people that have made a huge difference in the advancement of all minorities in our country and in our world.

As for President's Day, there are so many real lessons that can enhance the content learning that we stress every day. 
  • Use flashcards on the presidents for students to study one a day as a bellringer in your Social Studies classes.  Ask students to read about the president and discuss their contributions.  Also allow students to address their weaknesses.  What would they have done differently?! 
  • Set up a walking tour around your classroom where students can visit and investigate the contributions of the presidents.  Encourage students to create "Tour Cards" on themselves, depicting what type of president they would be.  What contributions would they make if president? 
  • Allow students to investigate the presidents, but to also have fun with the information they can find on our great leaders.  Presidents are human, and for middle and high school students seeing this human element, it makes the presidents more real and more interesting.  Discuss the "truth" and allow the lessons to be fun.  Have students create Presidential Facebook pages or Pinterest pins.
For my students,  I wanted them to see that the presidents were average guys that did something extraordinary for our nation and our world.  I wanted my students to see and understand that it could be them in that oval office, and it could be them making the news each and every day.

And next will be Women's History Month.  Oh, don't get me started on all the contributions made by average, everyday women every where! 

Happy Teaching!

Michele Luck