Virtual Advent Tour: December Celebrations, again!

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Mandala colored by my 2nd grader…

Spending the month of December in a classroom is magical. Energy level is heightened. Children are excited. They work with an intensity that is wonderful to see. They can also be extra wiggly, off-task, and somewhere in dreamland! But this is my 27th year of spending such Decembers with a large group of young ones, and I love it. It really feels like the HOLIDAY season!

Our classroom December is spent with lots of poetry, art, and music. Everything is centered around our study of Families of the World and their cultural traditions. We read, we research, we share information learned. We watch films of families from every continent (except Antarctica!), we memorize poems about the holidays, we decorate our room with lots of color and light. And then, just before school gets out for Winter Break, we invite our parents to come to the classroom and celebrate it all with a “Heritage Feast” with delicious tastes of family favorites and foods from many different cultures.

So for this year’s Virtual Advent Tour (thanks to Kelly and Marg), I’d like to share with you two heartfelt holiday treasures — The poem my students memorize and recite every December, AND a video of one of the most inspiring groups of children (and their incredibly gifted music teacher) performing “Let Their Be Peace on Earth.”

To each of you, from whichever tradition you celebrate, I wish you a joyous, light-filled December, and a very Happy Holiday Season!

December Celebrations!

Every year at just this time,
In cold and dark December,
Families around the world,
All gather to remember.
With presents and with parties,
With feasting and with fun.
Customs and traditions,
For people old and young.
So every year around the world,
In all lands and all nations,
People of all ages love,
December Celebrations!

(by Helen H. Moore)

From the chorus of PS22 in Staten Island, New York:  Their version of the beautiful song, “Let Their Be Peace on Earth.”

Thinking in Themes

Oh dear…there are times when I realize how deeply ingrained “Teacher Thinking” is in my brain. When my own children were little, every once in awhile they would say to me, “Mom, you’re acting like a teacher again.”  This morning I ran into a blatant example of my teacher thinking…

I went to my bookshelves to search for a good read for Dolce Bellezza‘s Japanese Literature Challenge #6.  I enjoy Meredith’s challenges, and thought this would be a good way to gentle myself back into challenges mode after my long hiatus from blogging. I was surprised to find, on different bookshelves, the following books. I realized that I think (without intending to do so) in themed connections!

Theme #1: Professors!

Theme#2: Summer!

Parker Palmer, in his book The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Mind, describes the art of teaching this way:

Good teachers possess a capacity for connectedness. They are able to weave a complex web of connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves.

As surprising as it was to find all these books on my shelves, I realize that I have always thought this way… If I look back at my childhood reading, I find similar patterns. Since I am a 4th generation school teacher, I can only conclude that there must be a gene in the family for that “capacity for connectedness”. One of my college professors, who knew my family well, joked that it was a “mutant gene.”  I’ll bet that many of my book blogging friends, teacher friends, and librarian friends all have this same way of thinking!