To learn the Christmas customs of another culture in a foreign country
To compare that culture's customs with our own
To learn and work on comparing/contrasting skills
To create a Venn diagram
Grade Level: 3rd -- 5th
Nine Days to Christmas by Marie Hall Ets (Puffin 1991). (or, this lesson could also be used with Tree of Cranes, by Allen Say).
Recommended: Any/all of the Christmas Around the World series by Thoennes and Enderlein, published by Hilltop (Informational books about Christmas in various countries) *
Optional: Let's Celebrate Christmas by Peter and Connie Roop (Millbrook 1997).**
Venn diagrams (can be copied or drawn on paper by students) -- it you've never done a Venn diagram, they are basically just two circles placed next to each other, with enough overlap to create an extra writing space in the middle
Pencils, crayons, and markers
1. Read Nine Days To Christmas (Teacher may choose the form of reading -- read to the class, read individually, or read with reading buddies)
2. As a class, discuss what was different about the Christmas celebration in Mexico from our celebration in the United States. Have students come up with some other things that might differ in other countries. (decorations, gift-giving, food, etc.)
3. Announce to the class that they will be comparing Christmas customs in the United States with those of another country. Put the students into groups (one group for each Christmas Around the World book available, or for each country you want to study).
4. Let the groups know which country they will be comparing with, and give them a copy of the corresponding Christmas Around the World book. Remind the groups that they should work together and that each person should be active in the work (each person should have a turn writing things on the poster and looking at the book).
5. Give each group a copy of a Venn diagram or have them draw the overlapping two-circle diagram on a sheet of paper. Instruct them to label the top of one circle "United States" and the other one according to their country.
6. Let the students work in groups to come up with similarities and differences between Christmas in the U.S. and Christmas in their country. Differences go in the respective circles, things that are the same go in the overlapping part of the circles. Students should be encouraged to both write and draw pictures.
As a class, students can talk about some of the interesting things they found out about Christmas in other countries. What was alike? What was different? What would you like to try?
* Students could also use encyclopedias or the internet to research Christmas in different countries. The Christmas Around the World books are recommended because they are well written, appealing, and contain a lot of information.
** This book should be used if you have students of different cultures who might not know a lot about Christmas celebrations in our country.