Huntsville Elementary School first-grade teacher Andrea Perdew greeted students entering her classroom last Wednesday with a new phrase to learn -- "Bon jour."
Perdew and Huntsville's three other first-grade teachers used four days last week to expose their classes to Christmas traditions and customs from other countries. Perdew said the idea behind Christmas Around the World was to help her students identify with people from other cultures.
"We have the largest percentage of Hispanic students in the county here and we thought this would be a good opportunity to provide our classes with a multicultural emphasis," she said. "The Christmas season just offers a really good opportunity to see how people in different places celebrate and the different customs they bring to the holiday season."
The four first-grade teachers selected France, Mexico, Switzerland and Hanukkah for this year's class lessons. First-grade classes rotated between the teachers one period each day for four days to hear a lesson on each culture.
Perdew chose France because it had a very special meaning for her. She told students she had visited France three times, but it was one trip that made a special impression on her.
Holding up a model of the Eiffel Tower, Perdew explained the history of the structure to the students seated on the carpet before her. She told students French engineer Gustave Eiffel built the tower -- the tallest structure in Paris -- to be the entrance arch for the 1899 World's Fair.
"A lot of people did not like the tower at first, but it has since become one of the world's most recognizable structures," Perdew said.
Perdew told the students about a trip she once took to the top of the tower with a close friend of hers.
"When we got to the top, he got down on one knee and proposed," she said. "That's why France and the Eiffel Tower will always be special to me. It's where my husband asked me to marry him."
In Brianne Bracken's class, first-grade students learned about the legend of the poinsettias from Mexico. Students learned about the Jewish tradition of Hanukkah in Laura Southard's classroom, playing the dreidel game after making a paper model of the traditional toy. Students heading into Janice Fitzgerald's classroom learned about Christmas traditions in Switzerland.
"This was such a wonderful time for these students to see how much they have in common with children around the world, while still being so different," Perdew said. "It's been a lot of fun."
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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