Archived Stories for Union County Public Schools
As the holidays grew closer and students became excited to begin their winter break celebrations, two groups of students gathered to create a symbol of the Winter Holidays from a country far away. One week before break would begin Ms. Christina Mitchell’s class took a field trip down the hall to a Kindergarten classroom to join Mrs. Erin Kaik’s class to learn a bit about celebrations from a different part of the world. Ms. Mitchell explained to students bits of information about German celebrations including that Christmas preparations would often begin before December 1st for many German families and that much time was spent baking spiced cakes, cookies, and other goodies as well as making gifts for loved ones. Often children would receive little dolls of fruit as a traditional Christmas toy.
Students were asked if they knew where the gingerbread man came from and then learned that Germans are known for their tradition of making beautiful gingerbread houses and cookies. The German Christmas pastry is often molded into different shapes and even baked and used as tree decorations. When made as a cookie, the Gingerbread is often shaped as a child, hence the “gingerbread boy.” Germans decorate their gingerbread creations with chocolates, small candies, and frostings. Families often create elaborate gingerbread people, houses, and even villages to display during the holiday season. Students were each handed a foam “gingerbread” to decorate however they chose using a variety of art supplies. Mrs Kaik circulated around and helped students glue googly eyes on their masterpieces. Students from both classes enjoyed the interaction and pitched in to help each other as needed.
While students worked together to create gingerbread ornaments to take home to their families, they were also able to hear more about how German families celebrated the holidays. Students learned that some homes in Germany have several Christmas trees. They can be seen glittering and glowing across the towns. Other traditions discussed included German children’s use of an Advent calendar filled with Christmas pictures and small treats to count the days until Christmas, opening one window each day. Advent wreaths of Holly with four red candles in the center are used in Germany. One candle is lit each Sunday and the last one is lit on Christmas Eve. The final tradition discussed was that some homes don't have a tree out for people to see, but rather they lock a room up before Christmas. On Christmas Eve the parents wake up the children at midnight and take them to the locked room where they watch the door open and see the tree lit up with piles of gifts on little tables.
Both classes worked well together learning a little bit about another country and their way of celebrating a holiday as well as working on learning how to best help each other. At the end of the visit each student had at least one gingerbread to take home to share with family, had exposure to information about another culture, and spent time working together with peers. Special thanks to Ms. Coley, Ms. Smith and Ms. Little for help with this project!
As they say in Germany ; "Frohe Festtage ... Happy Holidays!"
Written by: Christina Mitchell-EC Teacher
Posted: Jan 12, 2015 by Jarrod Stegall