January is flying by, and the crazy busy month of February will be here before we know it! It's a wild month to plan, with just too many holidays and events to squish into a month that's already too short in the first place.
Sometimes it's kind of tempting to skip some of the "minor holidays" in the face of the tyranny of curriculum. But holidays arguably are part of the essential learning in PreK-2 classrooms. Many of our kids truly do not remember who Abraham Lincoln is from one year to the next. And when you compound that with the fact that they've just finished learnng about Dr.King and are about to learn about George Washington, well, no wonder their little heads are spinning!
Of course, learning about famous Americans is a verifiable part of the social studies curriculum. But what about Groundhog Day, and Valentines Day, and Chinese New Year, and Dental Health Month, and, gosh, now even Mardi Gras and the Super Bowl?? Here's how I see it: the celebration of holidays is part of American culture, part of what will eventually become the lives they live. and today, with the diversity in our country, it's even a way for our young students to help their families understand the culture.
So, how to reconcile the time spent on holidays with the need to consistently teach to the Core Standards? Double-dipping, my friends. Two birds with one stone. I guess I should really say cross-curricular teaching. On Groundhog Day, we measure changing shadows. For Chinese New Year, we read and respond to non-fiction passages about street parades, dragons, and red envelopes. We look at maps to see places where Mardi Gras is celebrated.
And we bathe the entire month of February in hearts, hearts, and more hearts. But we use them to make patterns with, write stories about, adorn addition worksheets, and so on.
It's just the way we do it in the primary grades, and it works.
I've heard some upper grade teachers say, "We can't waste time on holidays. We have too much curriculum to teach." Don't tell anybody I said this, but do you think maybe some primary grade teachers are just a bit more practiced at cleverly disguising curriculum as fun? I don't know about you, but I'm a firm believer in the idea that fun is the open door to enthusiasm, engagement, and learning.
So, bring on the hearts!
And bring on the February learning.
Here's a cross-curricular unit to help you infuse Valentines Day fun and learning into your math and literacy centers. There are 19 activities, including syllable sorts, alphabetical order, /ar/ words, spelling pattern cards, opposites, number stories, sums of 14, adding doubles, graphing ... I hope you'll read the description at my TPT store to see the whole list.
Here's a freebie from "Oh, Lovely Literacy!". Enjoy this set of five love-er-ly bookmarks! Fun for your own kiddos, and nice to share if you have a buddy class!