for Holidays in the Classroom
There are many holidays throughout the year. With the inquiry method students can learn about those holidays or the people they celebrate. The activity described below was done in a 4th grade classroom. The students were highly motivated and learned many unknown facts.
When the Presidents' (Washington and Lincoln), birthdays were near numerous books would be gathered from the library about Washington and Lincoln making sure to include reading levels from 2nd to 6th grade.
Before looking at the books, the students write down facts they know about Washington and facts they know about Lincoln. Then the class would share some of those facts.
If the class is in table groups (or make groups), each group picks one of the presidents. As a table group they share their facts with each other to see what information they have. At this time if someone challenged a fact they mark it knowing they would have to check for accuracy. Students also note if someone else has the same fact.
Each table group is then given a set of books (making sure the levels fit the students) and they find facts or interesting information about their president. They are guided to look for facts not commonly known, or information that would surprise others. They are to go beyond what they already know. They research (be sure to include how to use the table of contents, index, captions, etc...) their topic extensively, writing down a minimum of ten facts. They also check the accuracy of a fact if necessary.
Each group is given a large piece of paper (18 x 24 or 24 x 36) where they draw something that represents their president or some of the information learned. They write the "facts" on the back.
Each group then "reports" information to the class. The students hold the poster up so the class can see the picture and they have their notes on the back to help them share what they learned about the president. Each student in the group is expected to share at least one fact.
Other holidays you might want to try: Martin Luther King, Valentine's Day, Veteran's Day, Columbus Day, Black History Month (could be specific people), St. Patrick's Day... etc.