Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Growing up, my mom made holidays so special for my family. We didn't grow up with extended family nearby, we were a small little family, and we didn't have much money, but every year I had awesome, creative costumes (yes, sometimes several costumes for any given Halloween-- a girl needs options for school Halloween parades, impromptu / informal Halloween ballet performances, and of course, nighttime trick-or-treating), often either handmade by my mom, myself, or a joint effort. And my mom wonders where I get my creativity from?! I learned from the best! To this day, I am so anti-store bought Halloween costumes, for several reasons: 1) they're overpriced, 2) your options are limited, 3) someone else is going to be going as the exact. Same. Thing. And 4) as already stated, I grew up knowing that purchasing a Halloween costume in a bag was absolutely unnecessary.*

*I may eat my words one day... flash-forward to action-packed motherhood... when a costume in a bag might be the only answer to my child actually having a Halloween costume, due to stress and only twenty-four hours in a day.

All this being said, despite my love of Halloween and holidays, I am not a fan of making seasonal art with my students, unless there is a deeper, cultural connection or personal meaning I can have my students make (for example, I teach Dia de los Muertos lessons, Chinese New Year lessons, Holi lessons, etc. as a vehicle for students to learn about and embrace other cultures and different types of celebrations). But just because I'm not a fan, doesn't mean I won't ever do it.

In grad school I learned that when immigrants were pouring into the public school system at the turn of the century, educating students about the seasons and popular holidays was a way to "Americanize" them. For obvious reasons, those historical roots don't sit too well. This is not to say that there is zero value in teaching students about the seasons... in fact, I think that today's students are often fairly out of touch with anything relating to the natural world. I just don't necessarily believe in teaching them about Halloween. It's already heavily marketed, and they can learn everything they need to know from their families and peers. Another big issue with Halloween-related anything is that several students do not celebrate it, and are not permitted to participate in Halloween-related activities at school.

Soo... when I found my Tuesday kindergarteners way ahead of the kinders I have the rest of the week (it seems that we never miss school on Tuesdays... so all my Tuesday classes wind up far ahead of everyone else if I don't interject with some extra single-lesson units), I did something I hadn't ever done before or thought I'd ever do... I taught a seasonal, Halloween-inspired lesson. Call me a hypocrite :( A big one.

But... aren't these pumpkins cute?

For kinders, I don't have them use glue bottles until the end of the year. Trays of glue and "cotton-tipped applicators" work well for developing those fine motor skills and learning just how much glue one needs.

For the record, while Halloween was mentioned, I did not refer to these as "Jack-o'-lanterns", and we discussed how pumpkins grow at this time of year. Yes, I practically framed this lesson as "let's make a squash with a face".

Happy Halloween!

Lesson inspiration from Deep Space Sparkle. Thanks, Patty!

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