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
Not Your Average Apple Unit
*Click any image to be taken to the resource*
It’s that time of year. You know what time we’re talking about.
We love an apple unit as much as the next teacher…but when you think about the fact that so many of our beloved apple units consist of similar content from Pre-K to around 2nd grade…it makes you want to rethink our apple unit! If our students have been taste-testing, graphing, stamping, and learning the lifecycle of apples for years, how can we shake it up? What else can we tell other than our Johny Appleseed narrative?
We have a few ideas.
Let’s start with Johnny. Johnny’s folktale is cool- but Johnny is so much more interesting than we might have been taught. We love to teach our students about the traditional legend- but then we sprinkle in some historical facts! Like the fact that Johnny wasn’t “poor” because of his bare feet and tattered clothing. He was actually very rich! A businessman, even. He’d plant orchards all over because at the time, there was a law in place that said that if you planted an orchard, you could claim the land. Plant and claim he did…and sold it to make a good amount of money!
We could get some geography in! We learned that the fist apple seeds were found in Asia. Eventually they were spread and traded on the Silk Road. We thought it would be a great way to tie in apples and geography in! Our students can learn what the Silk Road was and why it was a thing…then they can trace the routes on a map. The Silk Road shows up throughout history for so many reasons, the connections will be endless!
Honestly, this one is my favorite. We learned about the concept of market research after trying to guess what America’s favorite fruit was. Most children assumed that it was the apple- but really, was the banana! We read about the people who have the job of studying these spending trends and how that informs the way we spend and shop!
We learned about the job of an apple picker…which is HARD work! Another interesting thing to consider is the concept of mirgrant workers. Many apple pickers are seasonal/migrant workers and in recent years, apple farms have reported that they are struggling to get the apples picked because workers are concerned about coming to the U.S. This is an interesting idea to grapple with. What happens to a farm if the crops can’t get harvested? Lots of interesting concepts to learn!
For a STEM connection, we ended up doing an experiment with fresh and frozen apples. That’s because we learned that some of the apples that we buy in the store can be up to one year old! The industry calls them “birthday apples!” They are kept in a temperature-controlled storage rooms. Students are SHOCKED when they learn this!
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And…if you liked this one….we have LOTS more where that came from! Check them out!