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A Global Perspective of the Holidays

Second-grade students at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School hold their folder, which includes a passport for their “travels around the world.”
Second-grade students at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School hold their folder, which includes a passport for their “travels around the world.”

Second-grade students at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School worked toward obtaining a more global perspective through a cultural lesson designed by teachers Laura Kelly, Carleen Parmegiani, Darleen Wells and Maureen Zajac. As part of the activity, students rotated among classrooms and learned about how holidays are celebrated in England, Germany, Mexico and Sweden.

“Each student was given a large envelope labeled ‘My Travels Around the World,’” said Parmegiani. “Using a map and a passport, students ‘traveled’ to all four countries to complete assignments based upon that location’s culture.”

While in England, students sang carols, designed holiday cards, learned about the history of Boxing Day and created miniature cornucopias, which are typically found on Christmas trees in England to symbolize the spirit of sharing plenty with others. 

The stop at Germany included discussion of the Advent calendar and the tradition of gluing sugar on envelopes that contain letters intended for St. Nicholas. “The sparkle of the sugar is the children’s sign to St. Nicholas that there is a letter waiting for him,” said Zajac. “Letters are left on the windowsill at the beginning of Advent.”

The journey to Mexico brought with it a reading of “The Legend of the Poinsettia” by children’s author Tomie dePaola. The story recounts the Mexican legend of how the poinsettia came to be through a young girl’s gift to the newborn Christ. Student-travelers also made paper poinsettias.  

During their time in Sweden, students were told the story of the nisse, a mischievous elf who enjoys playing jokes on families in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. The globetrotters also wrote original gift tag riddles to accompany a present, alluding to what was inside.

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