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Invent a Holiday

Subjects

  • Language Arts
  • Holidays

Grade

  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12
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Brief Description

Students apply 12 basic elements of traditional holidays to create a unique holiday; they write a persuasive paragraph "selling" the celebration of their holiday.

Objectives

Students will
  • discuss traditional holidays.
  • learn about 12 elements associated with holidays.
  • apply those 12 elements to the creation of a new holiday.
  • use creative thinking and persuasive writing skills to make a case for adoption of the holiday.

Keywords

holidays, writing, persuasive writing, creative writing

Materials Needed

  • "Elements of Holidays" work sheet (see text below)
  • rubric
  • books about holidays (optional)

The Lesson

Introduce this lesson with a discussion about holidays. Brainstorm a list of holiday celebrations and discuss why those holidays are celebrated. Talk about what some holidays have in common; as students answer that question, they will mention some of the twelve elements of holidays provided below. Write those elements on the board as students share them.

The twelve elements of holidays are:

  • name
  • date
  • colors
  • symbols
  • sayings/greetings
  • songs
  • foods
  • traditions
  • reasons
  • clothing
  • smells
  • stories

After presenting the list of holiday elements above, use a specific holiday to discuss them. For example, you might write Christmas Day (or whatever holiday happens to be close to the date on which you do this activity) beside "name" on the list of holiday elements; continue by writing the other information alongside the remaining 11 holiday elements on the list.

Distribute a work sheet with the 12 elements on it. Challenge students to create their own holidays. They should write next to the 12 elements the name for their created holiday, its date, colors and so on.

Students use the information they have assigned to the 12 elements to write a paragraph to persuade their classmates to recognize and celebrate the holiday they have created. Students must use good, solid reasoning in their arguments as they prewrite, draft, revise, edit, and publish their completed essays. Before students write, share a rubric detailing the standards for the assignment. (See the Assessment section below for some suggestions.)

Writing suggestions: After students complete their drafts, they should have at least two other students read them, offer suggestions for improvement, and sign them. After incorporating the suggestions and rewriting to produce a final draft, students should ask at least two classmates to edit those final drafts.

When the final essays are ready, set aside time for students to share them with the class. When all the holidays have been presented, take a vote to determine which student made the best case for a new holiday. Celebrate that holiday as the culminating activity of the lesson; or wait until the actual date assigned by the student to hold the celebration.

Assessment

You might use the information below to create a rubric to evaluate students' performance on this project. Rate students' performance in each area on a scale of 1-3: excellent, good, and needs improvement.
  • Does the paragraph include a clear topic sentence?
  • Does the paragraph included good, solid reasoning?
  • Did the writer include specifics about the most important elements of the holiday?
  • Does the writing appeal to the reader?
  • Did the writer include a strong ending?
  • Were paragraphs properly indented?
  • Was correct spelling used?
  • Was correct grammar used?
  • Was correct punctuation used?

Submitted By

Katrina Stroup, Alcorn Central School in Glen, Mississippi


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05/14/2004