A personal perspective, well it is my blog after all… (wink wink)!
I’ve been in teaching long enough to have seen the trends of let’s celebrate to “do not mention the word…” I’ve witnessed tons of candy, parties, celebrations, costumes, and sheer bliss pulsing out of the bodies of children. I have also seen the removal of all fore mentioned, with perhaps only a worksheet with a themed sticker.
I believe Halloween is a cultural holiday, as much as Christmas and others. While there are religious connections, that part is well handled within the home and among family.
It is impossible to avoid the idea of an upcoming holiday with the commercial products displayed in abundance. So why would you remove an option to celebrate?
The exuberance of students during celebrations – no matter the celebration, in school, is necessary and down-right fun! I think back to my memories, particularly Valentine’s Day; I simply loved decorating my paper-bag “mailbox”. The writing out my cards for my classmates held an anticipation for me, filling in all my classmates names, wondering how they’d feel receiving my Valentine, how many Valentine cards would I receive. The treats that came along with the day were minimal compared to today, therefore, the occasional lollipop was super sweet!
Often, because of the structure of most schools, children are intensely encouraged to focus on doing; do this, do that, correct this, improve here, add more in this, no you can’t, you’ll have to wait, check the rubric, is it complete, is it your best. A decompression and alternate focus of the daily routine is a must!
One: Send out a letter 30 days prior to the big day. Ask families to submit the supplies and directions to making a craft, food treat (depending on your school’s policy), or some type of constructing/building related to the holiday. Ask for participation and volunteers to help run the day of eventfulness.
Two: Celebrate outside! Again, enlist the assistance of families – create a festival on a classroom scale, or connect with other grades or the school, that takes place in nature. The celebration could include hikes, running, hopping, crawling type games, painting rocks, sticks, or leaves. I believe the options in nature to be boundless.
Three: Pose a project-based learning activity around the upcoming celebration. Ask students, “How could we best celebrate holidays in our classroom? How could these celebrations contribute to our learning of reading, math, social studies, science, and so on?”
Four: Suggest a high-end celebration. An opportunity to dive into what that might mean, how it would look, and how that type of celebration could take place.