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Chapter 19 Seasonal Activities
 
 

The first thing to realize is that, when you are teaching in a foreign country, those seasons and events that have been part and parcel of your life up until now may be totally foreign to your young students. You may have to:

a) adjust your thinking to a completely different calendar
b) learn about local holidays, customs and special events
c) respect customs that may differ radically from your own faith or philosophy.

For example, in Southern Hemisphere schools: Australia, New Zealand, Papua- New Guinea, summer is November and December. Christmas dinner may be a BBQ on the beach!.  In Thailand, summer break runs from mid-March to mid-May when it is hottest. Thailand celebrates the western New Years Day on January 1st but it also has its own New Year's event in April (Sonkran Festival). Seasons in Thailand are not Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Instead they are:
Hot (February to April),
Hot and Wet (May to October),
Hot and Dry (November to January).

Using seasonal themes adapted from English speaking country’s  calendars gives children a useful insight into a culture which is inextricably linked to the language.
Using themes from their own culture provides opportunities for relevant, contextual learning Etopics which your students can easily understand and relate to.  (This can also be of benefit to childrens self-esteem, as an antidote to the West is Best mentality that sometimes accompanies language learning.)

Creating a Seasonal Lesson.
 
Get to know your local calendar.
? When are the important local events and what are they for?
? How can you build these into your lessons as rich language learning opportunities?
? What is the name?  What does it mean?
? What is the theme?
? What is the purpose?
? Is there a story behind it?
? What is the special vocabulary to teach?
? Is there an art, or craft activity, associated with the event, and suitable for adaption to the classroom?
? Is there a song that can be taught (or translated into English)?
? Is there a ceremony to be attended, field trip, classroom visitor to invite?

Christmas, mothers day, fathers day are obvious events from the western calendar, but I’m sure you’ll find local ones that adapt just as well.  All it takes is a little research and imagination.

In Thailand my favourites are
- “Teacher’s DayE  There are no classes on that day, but in the morning, students and teachers gather in the school for a ceremony, during which the students pay their respects to the teachers and present them with flowers.  Nice...something that would be good to see happening in the West...
- “Loy KratongE  People buy little banana leaf boats filled with flowers, incense and candles,  and set them afloat to give thanks for the water. I adapt this as a lesson by pre-teaching language, teaching a translation of the Loy Kratong song, and then letting the children teach me (in English of course) how to make the kratongs.
- The Kings Birthday, which does extra duty as Fathers Day, and National clean-up                             your school, neighbourhood, community Day.  Geat lesson possibilities here.

Some countries forbid teaching anything that is contrary to their national religion or government philosophy.  Teachers must follow a set curriculum.  In other countries, teachers have more flexibility.

Whatever situation you face, you will be able to develop many seasonal activities that are fun and good learning experiences for your young students and that will help them to understand both their own local events and international ones.

Lesson Ideas:

These ideas are based on 'spring'. You can easily adapt most of them to other seasons as appropriate for the area where you will be teaching.

Bulletin Board

Creating a seasonal bulletin board for the classroom is an activity that can be used in preschool or with elementary language learners. Teachers can encourage appropriate behavior, color recognition, name recognition, and lots of opportunity for discussion on what happens that season. Plants are a great choice and very visual. They grow, flower, produce seeds and die - to be replaced by new plants from their seeds.

Materials: Bulletin board, large piece of brown paper, assorted smaller colored
paper, scissors, leaf and flower patterns.

Description: Teachers place on the bulletin board a large tree cut out of the brown paper, making sure you have a branch for each child in your class. Write the children's names on the branches. Trace the leaves and flower patterns onto construction paper, the older children can do this themselves. Next, ask the children to cut them out. With the leftover brown paper, make two barrels one for each side of the tree. Place the leaves and flowers in the barrels.

During circle time talk about how the tree is bare and what happens to trees in the spring? Why does this happen? What can we do to our tree to make it look like it's spring? Ask the children about the branches? What is on them that is not on the trees outside? Have them identify their names. Go over the colors of the flowers and leaves, are the leaves all one shade of green? Why not?

Can there be more than one shade of a color?

Next explain how the children can add leaves and flowers to the tree by doing their very best at school, following the rules, cleaning up centers, and doing their best on papers or crafts. At the end of each day have the children who have had a good day choose a leaf or flower to put on their branch. Encourage everyone to participate so that the class tree can become big and full by the end of the month.

(See also 'Photosynthesis' further down the page)

Dr.Seuss Bulletin Board
 

Materials: Pictures of  the children's favourite cartoon characters, Title Oh, the Places You'll Go!
paper and crayons.

Description: We use this bulletin board at the beginning of March.  Place pictures from several Dr. Seuss books on the board along with their titles . Also have simple rhyming words. When the week is over, Leave the title, Oh, the Places You'll Go! on the board and take the pictures off. Have the children draw pictures of what they would like to be when they grow up. Label the pictures and put them on the bulletin board.

Dr. Seuss "Green Eggs and Ham"

Promote language and literacy with this activity which expands upon one of Dr. Seuss' books and includes a cooking experience.

Materials: Green food color, eggs, turkey ham, frying pan and the Dr. Seuss book Green Eggs and Ham.

Description: We talk about eggs for a few days before and discuss size, shape and color. We talk about what is on the inside and about the outside of eggs.
What you do with eggs and how you do it? We discuss where they come from and the different animals that come from eggs.

Then read Green Eggs and Ham. When you get to the part right before he
fries them ask the kids what they think Green Eggs and Ham taste like. Then make a chart by writing the predictions on one side and the actual results on the other side. In order to arrive at the results make green eggs and ham using food coloring. When you cook the ham add water so that the coloring spreads. Eat and record the results on the chart.

Take pictures of the children cooking and eating and create a bulletin board which includes the predictions and results. Beneath a group photograph on the bulletin board write We Like Green Eggs and Ham, Sam I Am.
 

Photosynthesis

During this preschool curriculum activity students learn about the four elements (soil, sun, water, seeds) necessary for plant growth.

Materials: Poster board, colored markers, empty seed packet, (pictures of the type of seeds you are planting are great for later recognition of the plant), styrofoam cups, potting soil, seeds, water, plastic wrap and a sunny window.

Description: Discuss the four elements needed to grow a plant. Soil, seeds, sun and water. Enlist the students to help draw a sun in the upper corner of the poster board. Make sure there are plenty of "rays' extending down the poster.

Draw in the soil (brown) on the bottom 1/5 of the poster. Starting on the left side, draw a black seed in the soil. Draw more seeds every few inches, but including some (green) "growth" in each until you have drawn a sprout.

Extend a few of the yellow sun's rays all the way down from the sun to the sprout.
Add water drops (blue) and a sprinkling can just above the sprout. The class can color in the objects. Display the poster in a prominant place in the classroom.

Next, use the cups and soil to help students plant seeds in their own cup. Add a few tablespons of water, and cover with plasic wrap. Set in a sunny window for a few days (keep warm at night). When the plants sprout, uncover. Review the steps each day to remind students to water their plants.

Grass Heads

During this Spring curriculum activity youngsters will have the opportunity to grow their own grass head and be responsible for watering it daily.

Materials: Old pair of nylon legs, grass seed, soil, small plastic containers (,jar or cleaned cat food tins), elastic bands, googlie eyes (the ones you sew on), pipe cleaners and a spray bottle.

Description:
1. Cut nylon at the knee
2. Scoop in 1 tbsp. grass seed
3. Scoop in preferred amount of soil / compacted (size of a softball).
Work the soil down to foot of nylon into shape of a head.
4. Tie the open end of the nylon tight (snip excess nylon and leave about 3 inches dangling).

Optional:
5. Have the children pinch the soil through the nylon to make it easy to tie an elastic around for ears and nose.
6. Sew on googlie eyes.
7. Make glasses out of pipe cleaners
8. Place grass head on top of small container (have excess 3 inch nylon dangling into the container
9. Pour in 1/2 inch of water in bottom of the container every couple of days.
10. Spray water gently over grass seeds on top 2 times each day.

WATCH THE GRASS GROW and watch the children enjoy creating there own hairdo's.

Tissue Flower Collage

Provide a fine motor and creative experience for preschoolers with this Spring art activity
Materials: Colored glue, tissue paper squares approximately 3 inches x 3 inches in size.

Description:
1. Have youngsters paint the colored glue over a large traced flower.
2. Have children wrap the tissue on the end of a chopstick or fine tip
marker pen cover.
3. Have each child put the wrapped tissue paper on the glue.
Preschoolers can create patterns, etc.

Paper Plate Umbrellas

Combine movement with this easy hands on art and craft activity by Yvonne S.

Materials: Large paper plates, markers and crayons.

Description: Give each student a paper plate with a small hole poked in the middle. Let the youngsters decorate the backs of their plates with crayons or felt-tip markers. When they have finished, have them stick their index fingers up through the holes in their plates to make the umbrellas.

Comments: My preschool class walks around in a circle saying this rhyme:
It's raining, It's raining,
Oh me, oh my!
But our umbrellas will keep us dry!

Game: Caterpillars and Butterflies

This game from a poem that she found on the Preschool Rainbow. Young children join a group, take turns and use gross motor skill as they run around a circle and find their place again. This is very challenging for the children in Annette's class.

Materials: A circular mat to sit round, a large model butterfly suitable for the children to hold.

Description: Sit together in a circle and recite and act out the poem Fuzzy Wuzzy Caterpillar. At the end choose one person to get up and fly round the circle holding the butterfly model.

Fuzzy wuzzy, creepy crawly
Caterpillar funny,
You will be a butterfly
When the days are sunny.
Winging, flinging, dancing, springing
Butterfly so yellow,
You were once a caterpillar,
Wiggly, wiggly fellow
Little fuzzy caterpillar
In your warm cocoon
The cold winter's over and you'll be hatching soon.
Then you'll spread your wings
On a warm summer's day
And wave us all good bye
As you fly, fly away.

Rainbow Butterflies

This easy art activity helps young children learn about Spring colors.

Materials: Pattern of butterfly, yellow, light green, purple and pink paint.

Description: Copy pattern onto white construction paper and fold in half. Let children paint with 2 or 3 colors on half of butterfly fold and press together. Open and let dry. Next, do the same on the other side and let dry. Hang the butterflies on the ceiling and make the room look bright and cheerful.

Comments: The children really like seeing their colorful spring butterflies on the ceiling.

Flowers and Weaving

During this easy preschool education activity children use hand eye coordination and fine motor skills.

Materials: Paper plate 6", colored yarn, and green paper for stem and leaves.

Description: Make slots around paper plates. Children will weave yarn in and out, making an interesting design. They can color the plates first and then make stems and leaves.

Kites!

Preschool and kindergarten children have the opportunity to develop pre-writing skills through tracing a diamond during this early childhood activity.  Patterning is reinforced using colored bow tie pasta to create the tail.

Materials: Diamond tracing pattern, crayons or markers, pencil, colored bow tie pasta, paper and glue.

Description: The children use a pencil to trace the diamond on paper. Once they have traced their diamond they can color their kite any way they choose. Next, the children use the pasta to create a pattern on their kite tail. The pasta is glued in place on the tail and the children draw on their paper.

Comments: The activity works very well with a mixed age group of children.

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Use green and blue letters. Blue symbolizes the showers and green for the flowers. Cut out big rain drops to give to each child to personally decorate themselves. If you can, fit their names on the rain drops. Add some glitter color. Next have your class make some flowers for the rain to fall on.

Rainy Day Play

Help youngsters identify which types of clothing are needed for rainy days with this early childhood activity.

Materials: Various rainy day clothes (slickers, rain coats, hats, rubbers, galoshes, umbrellas (if there is enough room and supervision), and a audio tape of rain / storms.
Description: During a Spring Theme or a weather unit, this activity could easily be incorporated. Place the various items in a dramatic play area and allow the children to explore "dress-up" on a rainy day. The audio tape allows you to do this activity at anytime of the school year! A fun addition would be to include books about rain and weather and allow the children to "read" in their rain gear! You can also incorporate this fun finger play:

Slip on your raincoat (pretend to put on coat)
Pull up your golashes (pull up golashes)
Wade in puddles,
Make splishes and sploshes (pretend to jump in puddles).

Growth of a Seed

Teach pre-k and kindergarten children how and why plants and vegetables grow with this early childhood activity. Starting with the planting process and then allowing them to care for their own plant.

Materials: Styrofoam cups, bag of soil, measuring devices = 1/2c. and 1 tablespoon, various seeds, newspaper, markers, and water.

Description: Read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein followed by a discussion centered on the various things plants, vegetables, and trees provide us with. Next have youngsters decorate the cups with markers and write their names on the bottom. Have each child put 1/2 cup of soil in their cup and use their finger to make a hole for the seeds. After they have picked out what it is they wish to grow, have them drop 3-4 of the seeds into the hole, and cover completely with dirt.

After the children feed their seeds 3 tablespoons of water the process of growth is ready to begin.

Language: "Tiptoe Through The Tulips"

Preschool children explore language in a concrete fun way during this early childhood activity. Listening and following direction skills are also reinforced.
Materials: Fabric drop cloth and fabric paint.

Description: On a canvas drop cloth I painted a scene. I made a creek with stepping stones and a bridge, some ducks, a few frogs, tulips, grass, a mud puddle, and a lady bug. You can add anything, even a little mobile of butterflies hanging overhead.

The fun begins when I say (child's name) can you walk "over" the bridge? Can you tiptoe "through" the tulips? Can you go "around the lady bug? Can you walk "on" the stepping stones? Can you go sit "under" the butterflies? Sometimes we play this as a board game and sometimes I use it to gather the children for an activity. " Can everyone go stand in the creek while I get out the playdough?"

This is a fun way to practice listening skills and following directions.

The Sensory Table
is filled with coffee or rice. Add silk flowers, make sure the stems are only about 6" so they'll stand up in the 'vases'. Little plastic buckets or vases and trowels are added and they 'plant' flowers to their hearts content.

April Room Decoration & Bulletin Board.
Cut out an umbrella shape with the middle cut out for each child, leaving a border about 3/4" all the way around. We cut

Use contact paper the same shape and back each umbrella with the sticky side shining up through the middle. Look for rainbow, rain drop & baby shower confetti and sequins in shades of blue to arrange on the Contact paper. Or you can use torn pieces of colored tissue paper.

Then top the umbrella with another sheet (the umbrella shape) of Contac paper. Add a pipe cleaner handle and you have a lovely 'sun catcher'. You can use raindrops, fall leaves, Christmas tree shapes etc. If you back your bulletin board with white or yellow these look great on it. They sparkle in the windows and hang from the ceiling too.

A favorite spring song:

'I Wish I Was a Little Hunk of Mud'
Tune: If You're Happy & You Know It
Oh, I wish I was a little hunk of mud
Oh, I wish I was a little hunk of mud
Then I'd oooeey and I'd goooeey over everybody's shoooee'
Oh, I wish I was a little hunk of mud.
After they know it, sing it 3 times, faster each time. Kids love it! Along with this song we always finger paint with chocolate pudding on a great big cut out of a shoe.

Bulletin Board for May

Each child is making a muffin liner flower with a pipe cleaner stem and cut-out leaves. They can fringe the muffin liner if they like. We're gluing a picture of each child in the center of the flower and each class will have it's own flower pot filled with 'Our Classy May Flowers'

Star of the Week

Draw a name from a star basket each week and the next week that child gets a turn to be Star of the Week. Everyone gets several turns to be the Star of the week in a school year.

Get hold of a blue canvas bag with gold stars on it in puffy paint and a letter to the parents in it. Each child is instructed to bring in a poster with a variety of pictures on it (with captions if possible) to display all week on the Star of the Week bulletin board.

You can make pop-up posters, a poster with the child face and a Pokemon body. But almost everyone brings a different poster each time. They bring in a favorite object or toy from home each day that week to share with the whole class and they must tell at least one thing about it to everyone then we pass it around. The Song we sing is:
Star of the Week
Tune; Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
____________ is Star of the Week
He \ She is giving us a peek
At all her \ his favorites that he \ she likes
She \ He is special all this week
___________ is Star of the Week
___________ is special all this week.
 

Chapter 20
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