While today, so many schools are marking Valentine’s Day, it’s fun as a visiting substitute to explore a little further!
There was a time when curriculum was heavily influenced by the traditional holidays – Back to School/September, Halloween/October, Thanksgiving/November, Christmas/December, New Year/January, St Valentine’s Day/February, St Patrick’s Day/March –Earth Day/April, Mother’s Day/May, and Father’s Day/June, 4th of July/July. The easiest way to verify this calendar is to look in the bulletin board decorations section of School Supply Catalogs! Nowadays, however, Christmas has to share space with Hanukkah, Los Tres Reyes Magos and Kwanzaa, and there are other opportunities to break out the party hats and paper goods with Dia de los Muertos, Mardi Gras, 100th Day of school, Black History month, Women’s History month, Cinco de Mayo, and so the list goes on!
Given the diversity of today’s schools, from state to state, region to region, and neighborhood to neighborhood, every school community has the opportunity/obligation to decide which of these events to spend time on. If the underlying purpose is to give all of us, as Americans, an appreciation for the rich cultural history on which we are to build our citizenship in One Nation, Indivisible, what would be the best ways to achieve that? A generation or two ago, the impetus was toward erasing ancestral history and becoming one with the melting pot of the country. You wanted more than anything to eliminate differences, forget your roots, and embrace Thanksgiving and the 4th of July! The sheer richness of what was briefly left behind, however, as well as new waves of immigrants who didn’t have that notion in the first place, has resulted in tremendous bounty for us all.
As you head out for assignments this month, bring along books and props about Chinese New Year: Choose some from this comprehensive list. I’ve used “Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year” for many years, and it’s still great, though Ernie must be all grown up by now!
· This is the year of the snake, and in the Chinese Zodiac, snakes have none of the negative connotations of Judeo-Christian mythology. Google information sites - here is a useful one:
And for Zodiac images, try this site:
· Use some of these videos to explore Lunar New Year Lion dances, if you have access to a Smartboard (many schools do) -:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTDc6bg0fm8 An amazing dragon dance!
Have fun! I know your students will.