SUBJECT: Geography
TOPIC: New Years Around the World
GRADE LEVEL: Lower Elementary
CREATORS: Cathy Baril, Stephanie Colegrove, Lauri Hugelier, Stacey Jenkins, Connie Naumann
 

New Years Around the World

Introduction

This is a social studies unit on New Year's traditions around the world. It is geared toward lower elementary, about the third grade level. This unit focuses on Strand 2 of the Michigan Framework for Social Studies Education, the Geographic Perspective. As stated, the unit will move the students toward the following (broad) goal: "Students will use knowledge of spatial patterns on earth to understand processes that shape human environments and to make decisions about society." this unit will zero in on Standard 2.1 - Diversity of People, Places, and Cultures.

The New Year theme was chosen because, though they may differ in time and place, New Year's traditions are found throughout the world. This is an excellent way to learn about different cultures. Hopeful outcomes are congruent with the goals; that the students will come away with a better understanding of the cultures and traditions of other countries.

This unit will cover five distinctly different New Year's traditions, beginning with those in the United States, and including those in Ecuador, Greece, and China. The unit also covers the New Year's traditions of the Jewish people.

The students will be involved in many hand-on activities including, but not limited to :

This unit assumes that the students, though perhaps not proficient, are readers; that they have minimum writing skills - can write at least simple sentences; and are acquainted with some New Year's traditions.

Skills the students will need to be taught include:

During the course of the unit, the students will inadvertently and-or by design, be exposed to other subjects. The students will listen to traditional music of various countries (music), make traditional decoration(art), and measure ingredients for traditional recipes (math).

This unit lends itself nicely to activities and experiences using the five senses, included, but not limited to hearing (listening to music), seeing (via visual aids), touching (making decorations), and tasting and smelling (sampling recipes).

While the unit focuses on Strand 2 - The Geographic Perspective, it will also touch on Strand 1 - The Historical Perspective in that the students will research and discuss the origins of the traditions. Benchmarks used for each lesson are located at the end of each lesson.

The unit begins with an introductory lesson that focuses on New Year's traditions the students are most familiar with - those in the United States. The unit is designed to last for approximately three weeks, though it could last longer. The field trip will happen near the end of the lesson.

This unit includes the following:

Unit Chronolgy

Pre-Unit: Before students go on winter vacation, they will be told about the New Year unit that will begin when they return. The will be instructed to take note of their own family's New Year traditions.
 
 
Day 1 Introductory Lesson and Mapwork
Day 2 American Lesson and Resolution Booklet
Day 3 Greek Lesson and Activity
Day 4 Greek Lesson Continued
Day 5 Jewish Lesson and Activity
Day 6 Jewish Lesson Continued
Day 7 Ecuadorian Lesson and Activity
Day 8 Ecuadorian Lesson Continued
Day 9 Student Research Project
Day 10 Student Presentation
Day 11 Chinese Lesson and Activity
Day 12 Lesson Prior to Field Trip
Day 13 Field Trip
Day 14 Lesson After Field Trip
Day 15 Concluding Lesson and Evluation

Introductory Lesson Plan

Everyone celebrates New Year. However not all countries celebrate New Year at the same time or in the same way. This is because people in different parts of the world use different calendars and have different New Year's traditions and celebrations. Many other countries celebrate New Year in the spring when new crops begin to grow. Other countries celebrate in the fall when the crops are harvested. However, most countries celebrate New Year on the first day of January. We will learn how different countries celebrate New Year and where we can find them on the map and globe.


 

Objective

To introduce to the students New Year's traditions around the world, beginning with the traditions of the people of the United States. The students will learn what New Year resolutions are and make their own.


 

Rationale

This lesson is in keeping with the Michigan Framework for Social Studies Education. It will help the students develop an understanding of people in other countries.


 

Materials


 

Opener

Since this unit is about New Year's traditions, it will officially begin when the students return from winter break. Prior to the break, the teacher will suggest that students take note of how their families celebrate the new year. The opener, or anticipatory set, will then be to have the students recount their experiences.


 

Procedure

  1. The teacher will ask the students to recount their New Year's experiences (e.g., staying up until midnight, blowing horns, or watching the Tournament of Roses parade).
  2. The teacher will list the traditions on the board - parties, noise-making, football games, and parades.
  3. The teacher will tell the students that they will learn about one tradition - New Year's resolutions, and that they will make their own resolution.
  4. The students will guess at the origins of the traditions and the teacher will confirm. ( e.g., a lot of noise is made to scare the old year away and welcome the new year).
  5. The teacher will define the term "resolution" and give examples.
  6. The students will write their own New Year's resolution and read it aloud to the class.
  7. The teacher will collect the resolutions and put together a "Class Resolution Book". Click here for sample page.
  8. The teacher will tell the students that they can add resolutions the next day if they wish.

 

Closure

The teacher will have the students recap what they have learned about the New Year's traditions in the United States.


 

Transition

The teacher will tell the students that, next time, they will learn about the New Year traditions of a country called Greece. The teacher will ask if anyone can find Greece on the map or globe. If not, the teacher will point it out and put a sticker by it so it will be easier to find the next time.


 

Evaluation

The teacher will assess the students through their understanding of resolutions and how well they were able to recap the lesson learned.

Benchmarks: 2.1.4 and 2.1.7

Lesson Plan Day 3: Greek New Year

Objectives

Students will be able to:


 

Rationale

Students will describe, compare, and explain the locations and characteristics of places, and cultures.


 

Materials


 

Opener

Bring in Greek New Year's bread to share with class.


 

Procedure

Students will:

  1. Locate Greece on a map.
  2. KWL about Greece and the beginning of the New Year.
  3. Read a book about the Greek New Year and explain the meaning of the star, boat, and apple.
  4. Teach the Kalanda song to the students.
  5. Pass out paper, crayons and glue to the students and have students make a star, boat or apple.

 

Wrap-up

Have students visit other classroom singing the song and carrying their stars, boats and apples.


 

Transition

A story about the Jewish New Year


 

Evaluation

The teacher will evaluate the students by observing them during KWL and while visiting other classrooms.

Benchmarks: 2.1.2 and 2.1.2
 

Lesson Plan Abstract Day 4: Greek New Year Activities

Bake New Year's Bread (vasilopita)

This cake is served at midnight on New Year's Eve. The head of the houshold cuts the cake and the lucky family member getting the coin is said to have good fortune in the coming year.


 

Learn about Saint Basil

One of the greatest fathers of the Greek Orthodox Church, he was the first to fulfill the need for charitable institutions. He directed the creation and development of orphanages, hospitals, and homes for the aged. His feast day is January 1.


 

Play Greek games

In-the-Pot, Copper Fly, Turtle-Tortle 

Lesson Plan Days 5 and 6: The Jewish New Year

Objective

Students will be able to:


 

Rationale

It is necessary that students be able to distinguish and appreciate the differences and similarities between people and their diverse cultures. Children should also begin practicing self-reflection on their pasts in order to make any necessary changes for a better future.


 

Prerequisite Skills

Students should already we able to distinguish and use time intervals (i.e. weeks, months, years).


 

Day 5

Materials
 

Opener

Blow the shofar (this should get their attention!)


 

Procedure

Read The Jewish New Year by Cone. Allow 12-17 minutes for introduction and pronunciation of Hebrew and vocabulary words from the book. Allow each child to try blowing on the shofar (clean mouthpiece after each child).


 

Wrap-up

Explain assignment to students. They are to write in their journals about their past year and whether or not they would like to do or be anything different this new year and explain why (min. 1 paragraph, allow 20 minutes).


 

Transition

Tomorrow we will finish talking about how the Jewish people celebrate their new year. Be prepared to do something special for someone you like or love.


 

Evaluation

Observation: were they successful in writing in their journals?

Benchmarks 1.1.2, 1.2.4, 2.1.1, and 2.1.3


 

Day 6

Materials
 

Opener

Introduce materials


 

Procedure

Discuss what they remember from the book read yesterday. Recall that the New Year is a time when the Jewish people look back at their past and see if they have done any wrongs. Then they make them right again (i.e. going to a friend and asking forgiveness). Discuss why this is a traditions and if it is good or bad. Explain that the students will make greeting cards to give to their friends and/or family. The should write a special message to them about how they feel and try to make right any wrongs.


 

Wrap-up

Show the Israeli flag with the Star of David; challenge the student s to try making their own stars. Children will be allowed to work in small groups of 3 or 4 and can use reference books for picture ideas.


 

Evaluation

Participation, discussion and observation.

Benchmarks 1.1.2, 1.2.4, 2.1.1, and 2.1.3.


 

Transition

Look at a map or globe and let children try to find Israel. Then have them look for a country called Ecuador. Tomorrow we will discover how Ecuadorians celebrate the new year.


 

Extension

Write favorite part of Jewish New Year in journals using vocabulary words.

Lesson Plan Days 7 and 8: Ecuador New Year

In Ecuador the whole family participates in their New Year's celebration. On December 31st each member of the family donates a piece of clothing such as a shirt, pants, shoes, or hat. The family then proceeds to make a strawman by sewing the clothes together and stuffing them with straw. This strawman represented the old year (Ano Viejo). Then a member of the family writes out a last will and testament naming all the faults of each family member. At the stroke of midnight, the will is read and the strawman is burned. It signifies the cleansing of the New Year. All of the faults that were listed are supposed to disappear.


 

Objective

Students will be able to:


 

Rationale

To make students aware that people in other areas of the world might celebrate New Years differently than Americans.


 

Materials


 

Opener

The teacher will ask the students to brainstorm different activities their families do to celebrate the New Year. Once the discussion gets going the teacher can introduce that there are other traditions for New Years in different parts of the world.


 

Procedure

Students will

  1. Have a discussion on some New Years traditions their family participates in.
  2. Be read an excerpt from Happy New Year by Emily Kelley.
  3. Recive a handout about Ecuador New Years.
  4. Compare and contrast Ecuador New Years with American.
  5. Make out a last will and testament listing all their faults.
  6. Divide into cooperative groups of 5-6 children.
  7. Stuff their shirts and pants with straw to make strawman.
  8. Attach the brown bag for the head.
  9. Fasten their last will and testament to the strawman and set the strawman in a chair.
At the end of the week the strawman can just be thrown out in the garbage instead of burning it.


 

Wrap-up

The teacher will ask the students to share out loud some similarities and differences between Ecuador and American New Years.


 

Transition

The next lesson will be having the students research their country and how they celebrate New Years.


 

Evaluation

The teacher will see if the students can participate in the discussion about the similarities and differences between Ecuador and American New Years. The teacher will also observe to see if they completed their assigned task of making a strawman and writing out a last will and testament.

Benchmarks: 2.1.2, 2.1.2, and 2.1.7

Lesson Plan Abstract Days 9 and 10: Student Research Activity

Materials

This is a two day activity. The materials needed are as follows:


 

Day 9

  1. Divide the students into groups of three.
  2. Have the groups choose a country whose New Year traditions they will research. The will choose from a list the teacher provides.
  3. The students will supply the following information on paper:
    1. Name of the students in the group.
    2. Name of the country (and find it on the map and globe).
    3. Date the country celebrates New Year.
    4. Two or three of New Year traditions of that country.
    5. Origin of those traditions.
    6. Favorite foods of the country.

 

Day 10

  1. The students will finish the research and then draw or paint a mini mural on poster board depicting their chosen country's New Year traditions.
  2. They will then review their research and present to the class.

Lesson Plan Day 11: Chinese New Year

Objectives

Students will be able to:


 

Rationale

To have students be aware of different customs around the world.


 

Materials

For Chinese firecracker decorations

For almond cookies
 

Opener

Chinese New Year is a lunar holiday that begins at sunset on the day of the second new moon following the winter solstice. This is usually between January 21 and February 20. The usual Chinese greeting is "Gung Hei Fat Choi," which means "good luck." New Years is a time in which the Chinese hope to escape their bad luck. This is the biggest celebration of the year for the Chinese because it lasts 15 days.


 

Procedure

Students will:

  1. Be instructed about Chinese New Year customs.
  2. Be assigned to construct Chinese New Year decorations.
  3. Be assigned to make Chinese almond cookies with the help of the teacher and parent volunteers.

 

Wrap-up

Compare how the Chinese celebrate New Years versus a New Year celebration that the students are familiar with.


 

Transition

Explain to the students that they will be taking a field trip in which they will participate in a Chinese New Year's parade.


 

Evaluation

Check for completion of Chinese New Year decorations and participation in cooking.

Benchmarks: 2.1.2, 2.1.2, and 2.1.7

Lesson Plan Day 13: Field Trip Possibilities

Windsor, Ontario has a Chinese community that hosts Chinese New Yer events, many of which are designed specifically for schoolchildren. These are structured acitivites that change from year to year that focus on the Chinese New Year celebration.

Contact: Red Sail Restaurant
Windsor, Ontario
(519) 969-6921


 

Toronto, Ontario is home to North America's largest ethnic Chinese population. The Chinese New Year can fall anywhere between January 20th and February 19th. It is the biggest event of the Chinese year and is celebrated throughout Toronto. The celebration lasts for a week, so there are plenty of field trip possibilities.

Contact: Chinese Community Centre of Ontario
84 Augusta Ave.
(416) 365-0917 

Lesson Plan Day 15: Concluding Lesson

Objective

To conclude the unit on New Years celebrations around the world and to evaluate the students' learning.


 

Rationale

This lesson is an important component in any thematic unit.


 

Materials


 

Opener

The teacher will organize a game to help the children review for their evaluation.


 

Procedure

  1. The teacher will hold up an artifact and name it.
  2. The students, working in teams will name the country of origin and find that country on the map or globe.
  3. Other teams will have the chance to name one or two New Year's traditions of that country, or a favorite food.
  4. The teacher will add the information to the chart.
  5. After the chart is filled out, the teacher will have each child fill out a brief questionnaire listing a favorite traditions and the country of origin and locate it on a map. The only condition is that they may not choose the United States or the country they researched. This is the evaluation.

 

Closure

The teacher will reiterate briefly what the students learned.


 

Transition

The teacher will tell the students about the next unit they will be studying.


 

Evaluation

The teacher will know that the students learned the lessons when they can accurately complete the evaluation questionnaire. 

Our Class Resolution Book

NEW YEARS AROUND THE WORLD

Country/Culture Continent New Year Date Origins Traditions Food
United States
 
 
 
 
 
Ecuador
 
 
 
 
 
Greece
 
 
 
 
 
China
 
 
 
 
 
Israel
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sources

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Bernhard, E. (1996). Happy new year. New York: Lodestar.

Carrier, R. (1991). A happy new Year's day. Montreal: Tundra.

Chaikin, M. (1986). Sound the shofor. New York: Clarion.

Cone, M. (1966). Jewish new year. New York: Crowell.

Cooper, J. (1989). Celebrations: New year. East Sussex, England: Wayland.

Dobler, L. (1962). Customs and holidays around the world. New York: Fleet.

Dossey, D. (1992). Holiday folklore, phobias and fun. Los Angeles: Outcomes Unlimited Press.

Freeman, K. (1947). the Greek way. London: MacDonald.

Groh, L. (1964). New year's day: A holiday book. Champaign, IL: Garrard.

Ickis, M. (1970). The book of festivals and holidays the world over. New York: Dodd & Mead.

Johnson, L. (1996). Happy new year round the world. Chicago, IL: Rand McNally.

Kelley, E. (1984). Happy new year. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda.

Liang, Y. (1961). Happy new year. New York: J.B. Lippincott.

Livingston, M. (1987). New year's poems. New York: Holiday House.

Lisear, W. (1977). Jewish holiday book. New York: Doubleday.

Modell, F. (1984). Good-bye old year, hello new year. New York: Greenwillow.

Polon, L., Cantwell, A. (1983). The whole earth holiday book. Illinois: Scott & Foresman.

Van Straalen, A. (1986). The book of holidays around the world. New York: E.P. Dutton.

Warner, P. (1994). Kids' holiday fun. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Waters, K., Slovenz-Low, M. (1990). Lion dancer: Ernie wants a Chinese new year. New York: Scholastic.

Weathervane Books (1972). Greek cooking. New York: Crown.

Webb, L. (1995). Holidays of the world cookbook for students. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press.

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