Buddy Up to Help Students Who Don’t Celebrate Holidays or Birthdays

Do you have students in your class who don’t celebrate certain holidays?  If so, this tip on buddying with another teacher is for you!

Network with other teachers and find out who shares your dilemma.  You can buddy up and help your students feel welcome and happy during holiday and birthday celebrations.

An email to the school is a good way to find your matches.  Ask if anyone would like to get together and plan for how to help students who don’t celebrate holidays (and/or birthdays.)  You could also coordinate this at staff meeting. If several teachers are in the same boat, you should all be buddies.  After all, one teacher’s class might be hard to reach during an impromptu birthday celebration, and it’s nice to have backups.

Early in the school year, arrange a joint activity for your classes, or at least trade students so your non-holiday child can meet the other class.  (The child could bring a friend or two to make this less awkward—and less obvious to the host class what you’re doing.  It will be harder to connect it with religion.)

Set up a standing arrangement for birthdays.  Your child can help (or just visit) another class during birthday celebrations.  (If the child wants this.  In my experience, some students who are Jehovah’s Witnesses have no problem being there but not participating.)

Make plans for holiday parties.  Include de facto holiday parties, like your “Fall Festival.”  (Everyone knows that’s Halloween.)  Schedule your party at a different time than your buddy’s party.  The affected students can visit each other’s classrooms during party time.  Try to plan a fun or engaging activity for that time.

Contact the students’ parents.  You might find out that the parents plan to keep their child home during certain parties or holidays.  This is good to know in advance.  In this case, you should still host your buddy class’s child, because that student still needs a positive place to be.

Tell the principal and other staff about your plans.  Someone else may be in the same situation and just didn’t realize you were organizing.  Your principal may want to remember this technique for future years, maybe after you have moved on.  Your principal may want to talk about your idea at a principals’ meeting.  Other schools may use your idea.

My students really enjoy hosting these kids from other classes.  They go out of their way to make the guest child feel welcome and valued.  I think that buddying up like this benefits all students and builds a stronger community.


 

Write spooky Halloween stories using a sensory word bank

HalloweenIt’s not often that students are truly interested in imbuing their writing with sensory details.  Halloween is one of those rare occasions.  Here are some tips for encouraging students to write vivid details.

Practice as a class

Working together, choose a spooky setting and story premise.  On the board, create a chart with five columns, one for each sense.  (Sight, smell, taste, sound, touch)  Fill each column with at least three examples.  Then, encourage students to try turning the sensory details into sentences that could fit into a story.

Create individual sensory word banks

Once students start writing their spooky Halloween stories, they are more interested in action than description.  A little planning can go a long way.  Encourage students to brainstorm sensory details for their stories.

Separate description from storytelling

Writing a Halloween story with vivid descriptions might be too much for your students.  You could encourage students to write descriptive Halloween paragraphs and illustrate them.

Create a grab bag of sensory details

Cut scratch paper into eighths.  Give each student five scraps.  Then, have each student write a sensory detail on each scrap.  Put all the scraps in a grab bag and redistribute them.  Challenge students to create a paragraph that incorporates all the sensory details they pulled from the grab bag.

Read spooky stories and descriptions aloud

As students work, take frequent breaks for sharing.  You can choose good examples or allow students to volunteer to read their efforts to the class.  Students will be motivated by seeing their peers succeed at description.

Happy writing!

You might enjoy these other Halloween posts at ClassAntics:

New Orleans Halloween: teach a Fall Festival lesson about the culture of New Orleans.  Includes a FREE powerpoint of New Orleans cultural symbols and landmarks, book recommendations, and music tips.

A good way to organize a Halloween Party: learn how to create a party for your whole grade level by setting up a rotation.  Each teacher need only prepare one activity.

Do any of your students opt out of celebrating Halloween or other holidays?  Read how to accommodate that student in a pleasant way in the post Buddy Up to Help Students Who Don’t Celebrate Holidays or Birthdays.

Make it a theme day with Halloween Math Worksheets.

Posted in Holidays,Writing by Corey Green @ Oct 23, 2017

 

A Good Way to Organize a Halloween Party

… I mean Fall Festival!

Anyway, I learned a cool organizational technique from other teachers.  Basically, the teachers at your grade level each develop a 15 or 20-minute Halloween activity.  On the afternoon of the party, set aside about two hours.  The classes rotate to each teacher’s classroom.  Parents who attend the celebration can travel with your class, helping them to complete the activities.

This cuts down on your workload and helps you fill the entire afternoon.  Additionally, it’s a party that doesn’t revolve around food.

Ideas for activities:
> Read a story and do a simple craft
> Decorate jack-o’-lanterns (use orange construction paper or an orange paper plate as the pumpkin)
> Make Tootsie Roll Pop ghosts with lollipops and tissue paper.  I simplified this by having students draw the details on their ghost rather than glue things.  Gluing things leads to problems.  Other teachers are braver than I am about crafts.
> Play Halloween charades
> Halloween Pictionary
> Halloween Hangman

A quick search for Halloween activities yields many good ideas.  Start planning now so you can send home letters requesting supplies!

The morning of your party, do Halloween-themed math from math-drills.com.  The math is at all levels, so you are sure to find something for your students.


 

New Orleans Halloween

bookThis year, try a New Orleans theme for your Halloween/Fall Festival party.  You can work in geography, history, culture, and Halloween fun.

I did this last year and I can tell you that both the kids and parents just loved it.  It was a nice modification of traditional Halloween-at-school activities.  Parents appreciated the educational angle and they learned something, too.

I grabbed everyone’s attention by showing them that the Disney Haunted Mansion is in New Orleans Square.  I told them that the Disney Haunted Mansion movie is set in New Orleans, too.

Once I had everyone’s attention, I showed them a New Orleans PowerPoint I created.  You can click to download & share it, too (large file: 3+ MB).  It shows pictures of New Orleans to help get everyone in the mood.  I downloaded the Disney “Grim Grinning Ghosts” Haunted Mansion song along with some classic New Orleans jazz to play while we looked at the pictures.

Everyone loved learning about the New Orleans jazz funeral.  I told the children how it evolved from African funeral customs.  A New Orleans jazz band plays a sad song or dirge on the way to the cemetery, and happy tunes for the procession out.  Click here to learn more about the New Orleans jazz funeral.  Here is a sample:

Eileen Southern in The Music of Black Americans: A History wrote, “On the way to the cemetery it was customary to play very slowly and mournfully a dirge, or an ‘old Negro spiritual’ such as ‘Nearer My God to Thee,’ but on the return from the cemetery, the band would strike up a rousing, ‘When the Saints Go Marching In,’ or a ragtime song such as ‘Didn’t He Ramble.’  Sidney Bechet, the renowned New Orleans jazzman, after observing the celebrations of the jazz funeral, stated, “Music here is as much a part of death as it is of life.”

Because I teach third grade, I don’t explain how the New Orleans above-ground cemeteries are necessary so that the bodies don’t wash out on the streets during floods.  This would be very interesting to older students, though.  For third graders,  I  show  pictures of the beautiful New Orleans cemeteries, famous cultural landmarks of the city.

Make sure to teach the kids about New Orleans food, like jambalaya and po’boys.  Explain that po’boy sandwiches can be any simple filling in bread, but that most people think of a shrimp po’boy.   My mom said that when she lived near New Orleans, red beans and rice was everybody’s Monday dinner because Monday was laundry day and the mother was too busy to cook something difficult.  Practical details like that help history and culture come alive for students.

Parents and students alike are very interested in my story about the New Orleans streetcars.  I explained that if you ride the car to the end of the line, the driver will have everybody stand up so he can reverse the seat backs.  In that way, you always ride facing forward.  Click here to see the concept.  The picture is part of my New Orleans PowerPoint presentation.

For a literacy connection, I recommend reading the New Orleans Magic Tree House book A Good Night for Ghosts.  Your students will enjoy learning about New Orleans and Louis Armstrong.  The book touches very, very lightly on segregation.  You can expand on that or wait for another learning opportunity, your choice.   (If you like, teach your students that Ruby Bridges integrated William Frantz Elementary in New Orleans.)  A Good Night for Ghosts shouldn’t be too scary for your class.  It has a mild ghost scene that turns out not to be ghosts after all, but Louis’s friends.

Happy Halloween!

Posted in Academics,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Oct 10, 2017