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Showcasing Vallye Blanton and "Weekly Holidays"

"In my classroom, we celebrate at least one holiday a week -- from the birthday of the Statue of Liberty to National Sandwich Day -- and they are all fun and educational," says Vallye Blanton, a literacy coach at Lake Park (Georgia) Elementary School.

Until three years ago, Blanton taught fifth grade at her school and had even greater opportunity to capitalize on the many holidays that occur during the year, especially one of her favorites -- Thanksgiving!

"I use many Thanksgiving activities," she explained. "We measure the dimensions of the Mayflower and rope it off on the playground. Then we have 102 people stand inside to demonstrate how crowded it was. We write poetry, do artwork with cornucopias and Indians, and make pumpkin pie."

Blanton also teaches a character trait activity with turkeys. She writes stories about six turkeys, and students pick out their character traits and write the traits on turkey feathers. The students create stories with Indian symbols and make totem poles from coffee cans. In past years, Blanton has had her classes write paragraphs describing what famous people or characters, such as Snoopy, Harriet Tubman, and the president have to be thankful for. The students have kept November calendars and written what they themselves have to be thankful for each day.

In addition, Blanton has distributed questions about the Thanksgiving holiday and had students research with the atlas, dictionary, encyclopedia, and even a cookbook to solve them. Each of her students is asked to bring a favorite Thanksgiving dinner recipe for inclusion in a class cookbook. With an abundance of holiday-themed activities, others might have preferences, but Blanton reports that she enjoys them all equally.

"I really don't have a favorite activity," Blanton told Education World. "My students love the Thanksgiving activities and all our holiday celebrations. Behavior is great, students achieve more, and attendance improves when we make learning fun."

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Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
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