Not Your Average Christmas
We know what you’re thinking. “They made a Christmas unit? Aren’t they all about inclusivity?
How is this inclusive???”
That’s why this is a NOT YOUR AVERAGE Christmas Unit. In this unit, we wanted to create some lessons around why things are the way that they are in the United States around Christmastime. We will explore holiday concepts around economics, history, and sociology! We also recognize that some students are not supposed to engage in any sort of holiday activity at all (for cultural/religious reasons). Our hope is that this will serve as an alternative because these lessons don’t celebrate, but rather educate and allow students a chance to process why this holiday is so prevalent. We would send this content to the families to preview and ask if it is culturally appropriate BEFORE teaching it.
We also tried to include response sheets that are free of holiday clipart. We encourage you to use this unit as a springboard for your own class research as well! We hope you enjoy this unit as much as we do!
The topics that we cover include:
Sociology: What happens if when you don’t celebrate Christmas…but it’s Christmastime? The holiday decorations, songs, school parties, office celebrations… there isn’t any escaping it if that’s “not your thing” or if it’s not a part of your culture. Do we ever stop to process why this might be the case? How did Christmas become so mainstream? How can we be more inclusive?
Economics: Hallmark holidays are holidays that either seem to be invented for the primary purpose of or a holiday that has gotten away from its original purpose. There are holidays such as “Sweetest Day” or “Boss’s Day” that many people believe to be a Hallmark Holiday- but even Christmas has been labeled as a heavily commercialized holiday due to the marketing and spending trends. What would a holiday look like if it was completely uncommercialized?
History: How did Christmas become a Federal Holiday? The United States recognizes 10 Federal Holidays in a year…but what is the history behind how those were selected? Federal holidays usually give people a paid day off work. Unlike many other countries, the United States doesn’t have a national holiday. This is because Congress only has the power to create holidays for federal institutions. Christmas traditions make the holiday seem like it is celebrated nationally (which may be confusing if we are told that you can celebrate any way you’d like in the U.S.) but this is due to the sharing of traditions that started in Godey’s Lady Book- a popular lifestyle magazine in the 1800s.
We hope you enjoy this unit!!
LaNesha and Naomi
Inauguration Day for Primary Students
Inauguration Day is a great time to get some civics and history into your primary classroom! Kids might not know exactly what’s going on, but chances are they know something exciting is happening. LaNesha and I put together a lesson to help you introduce this important day to you students. The activities we included are going to have them looking forward to Inauguration Day and all of the traditions involved!
To teach about Inauguration Day, this resource includes an eBook filled with information about why Inauguration Day is on the 20th as well as the constitutional and traditional events that happen. (Click on any image to be taken to the resource)
Discussion questions have been included on some of the pages to get a great discussion going with your students.
Four fun activities have been included to tie all of the information together.
Click on the Images to be taken to the resource.
We hope you and your students have fun learning about this special day!
LaNesha and Naomi
The Truth About Thanksgiving
If you are new here, hi. We are Naomi and LaNesha and we are passionate about honest and inclusive history in the PRIMARY grades. We even wrote a book about it. Thanksgiving. Please, please, please do better. If you are a teacher, literally research Thanksgiving. What we teach is inaccurate and embarrassing at this point. […]
Unpack Your Impact Free Study Guide
(Click the image above to download the free guide)
Unpack Your Impact is available on Amazon!
We wrote a book! Well, by “we,” I
mean LaNesha Tabb and Naomi O’Brien. It’s
Your Impact and we are thrilled that it is out in the world. We
wanted to create a free study guide for people that are looking to
work through this book with some support. Let’s take a look at how we
decided to create a book club kit for a school that is studying this
So, in our book club kits, we included the book (of course),
the study guide, and a bookmark! The study guide and bookmarks can be
downloaded at the end of this post! We wanted to bring a smile to the
educators’ faces that would be studying this book- so we made the kits
special by adding a cute
little globe (because we wanted to expose students to a WORLD of
MORE) and we filled them with a few
chocolate globes! We also included a pack
of crayons (an awesome administrator provided those for the staff
which was really nice!) We would definitely recommend supporting Bellen’s More Than Peach
Project for crayons if you wanted to add that touch!
Since the book study will
be done virtually, we created the kits and asked the educators to come
and pick up a kit after school. The school is going to be creating a
reading schedule that works for them- but the guide is ready to
support them with question prompts and debates! Check them out
We are so grateful for all Click the image above or here to download!
of our readers and we hope you find this study guide helpful!
Naomi + LaNesha
Not Your Average Pumpkin Unit
*Click any image to be taken to the resource*
Buckle up. This unit is F-U-N. But not like, “label the parts of the pumpkin” fun that you’ve been doing for years. Which brings me to my first point- and I say this with love: do a flipping KWL before you engage in a thematic unit like pumpkins.
Consider the fact that these children- some of them have been doing a variation of the pumpkin unit since pre-k. They have scooped, seeded, counted, and graphed the mess outta that pumpkin. They might already be able to label it and describe the life cycle. They probably did the Pinterest craft. What else can we do?? We have some ideas.
What is it about pumpkins that cause good people to lose their minds? I mean…pumpkin spiced lattes, dog food, and toothpaste overwhelm us on the shelves of the stores. But, why?
Some scientists offer up olfactory memories as an explanation. Olfactory memories are brought on by smell. It’s the thing when you smell something and it zaps you back to a memory without effort. Research has shown that smells of pumpkin spice take us to a time of year that is crisp, fun, and beautiful- autumn! Our unit includes an awesome eBook explaining this concept, and then we create a STEM Smell Lab! We include various scents and ask students to draw or write the memories that they have. Check out some scenes from some of our Instagram teacher friends!
Soooo much fun. Ok- the next thing we focus on? Sociology. Because YAY! We learned all about Extreme Gardening. You know what that is…it’s when you see people growing extremely large crops- often for fun but sometimes for sport. We talked about why people do this and what good can come from it. Then, after seeing tons of pictures of extreme pumpkins (which btw, you have to say it really intensely with your students- like XTREME PUMPKINS! More fun.) we had our own extreme pumpkin challenge…put with paper! All of those extreme pumpkins are grown from the same seeds as a typical pumpkin…but they do special things to get it to grow larger. We give the students the same sheet of paper and tell them that they are to try and build the largest pumpkin that they can with paper! They can cut and glue but they cannot add anything to the pumpkin. Check it out!
Love it. We are having fun, learning about the world…and still studying pumpkins!
From there, we learn a little economics. We introduce the idea of commodities. Remember, we teach kindergarten and first grade. We are skimming the surface. So on the surface, the concept of a commodity is that people produce a product that is standard and predicatable…and often easy to ship. We talk about the ecomomic concepts of a commodity, and then we have a little experiment/simulation! Students are asked to (secretly) draw 5 pumpkins- any way they’d like. Naturally, they are different sizes, colors, and shapes. They share those pumpkins with the class. Then, through a serieis of “calls” that come in from “consumers,” the students go through three rounds of revising and by the end, their pumpkins all look similar. Have a look!
We took a trip back in history and taught students about the history of the jack-o-lantern! They were fascinated to learn that turnips used to be used amoung other interesting facts!
Lastly, for geography we were able to focus on naming all of the continents because there is one continent in particular that can’t grow pumpkins! We have the students name the continents and glue on a pumpkin for each continent that CAN grow a pumpkin.
It is our hope that this blog post shows you how much you can do with a basic thematic topic. There is an entire world out there. toshow children… we can do more than teach the liefcycle of the pumpkin! Let’s go!!!