Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thoughts on Thursday: Favorite Christmas Traditions

My calendar helper and I changed our calendar to December today. My kids were super pumped. But I'm over here freaking out. How did this happen? How is it December already?! I think I'm partly surprised because up until today it still felt like the middle of August. That's the problem with living in South Louisiana. I digress...

So since it's December it's time for another Thoughts on Thursday. My bloggy bestie Jessica from Tech and Teachability and I are here talking about our favorite Christmas traditions.

I come from a fairly large Cajun family. My Christmas memories are filled with big meals, loud talkers, and wrapping paper fights. Seriously even thought all the grandkids are over the age of 16 we still hoard wrapping paper during gift opening and strategize to bombard my aunts and uncles with wrapping paper balls.

In my classroom my favorite Christmas tradition is having my kids complete Christmas Around the World research projects. In years past I taught all of the subjects in my second grade classroom. Christmas Around the World became the sole focus of our ELA and Social Studies block for the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. My kids created Google Slide presentations to share what they learned about the various holidays around the world.

I'd pair my students into small groups and each group would research a different country's holiday. We would spend a week researching using iPads, QR codes, or the computer lab depending on what technology we had available that year.

The entire unit culminated with Christmas Around the World day. Each group would get up and present their projects.

After each presentation we would eat foods and create crafts that corresponded with the particular country. I think Christmas Around the World day is my favorite day of the year.

This year since I only teach Math, Science, and Social Studies, so we don't have as much time to devote to the project. It's going to look a little different, but you better believe Christmas Around the World is still happening in Mrs. Dunckelman's class. Instead of one whole day of presentations, my students are going to present one group at a time for a week. Instead of Google Slide presentations, they'll be completing little booklets. But food and crafts are still happening!

My school is very diverse with a very large Hispanic population. So even though we're in the New Orleans area, many of my students haven't heard about the special Christmas traditions of South Louisiana. So I decided this year to incorporate a little Cajun Christmas tradition into our Christmas Around the World research.

In South Louisiana the Christmas story is a little different. Santa's reindeer can't make it through the swamp, so his sleigh turns into a pirogue pulled by alligators. Families build bonfires along the Mississippi River to light the way for Papa Noel and his alligators. The bonfires are lit on Christmas Eve, and they really a beautiful sight.

If you'd like to share Christmas in Cajun Country with your students you can grab my QR code research mat and reading passage here.

One of the best books you can read to get a good understanding of the Cajun twist on Christmas is Cajun Night Before Christmas.

And here's a little fun with the story. LSU's kicker Colby Delahoussaye is from a Cajun area of the state and has one of the best Cajun accents I've ever heard. Here's a great video of him reading the story!

I hope you enjoyed learning a little about our Louisiana Christmas. Thanks for stopping in to hear my Thoughts on Thursday! Make sure to hop over to the other blogs that are linked up. Join us next month when we talk about resolutions!

If you loved this post and want to save it for the future or want to share it with other teachers you can tag the image below to your Pinterest boards! Hugs, kisses, and tell your mom and 'dem I said hey!


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