Festival of Lights

By: Meridian 1st Graders

Winter is a season when holidays, traditions, and celebrations are all around us and a great opportunity to share and learn from one another.  In first grade, we spent the month of December learning about how families around the world, in the past and in the present, celebrate both religious and non-religious holidays in our literacy unit.  We approached the holidays through the lens of “What is the same and different about many winter traditions?” We investigated why lights, and more importantly candles, are a common theme in many winter holidays!  

The festival of lights is a celebration of light coming back, or the sun, especially in the winter when it’s so dark! We are learning about different holidays and how they celebrate that central idea.

kwanzaaSo far we’ve learned about Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Las Posadas, the Winter Solstice, and a few more we can’t remember right now. Before Winter Break, we will learn about Makahiki, a Hawaiian new year’s festival.

We think it’s important because this might be our only chance to learn about holidays that we don’t celebrate.

When we talked about Hannukah, we learned that though they had only enough oil to light the menorah for one night, but a miracle happened and it lasted for 8 nights!

st-lucias-daySomething that we learned when we studied St. Lucia’s Day is that Sweden has its own language. A lot of us were surprised by that!  We were also surprised that Las Posadas is similar to Christmas. The celebrations we learned about were actually all
similar in some ways. It was nice to know that they share things, and made us curious about the meaning of other holidays around the world. It is so interesting and it was a lot of fun, so we want to learn more about other holidays when they happen.

We are going to try to share what we learned with our families. We also want to read books about these celebrations to find out more because we know there can be a lot of different answers!

Museum of Flight

By: Meridian 2nd Graders

img_20161201_204615We had a blast at the Museum of Flight! We did a lot of activities while we were there, but our favorite was when we all got Eggstronauts (egg astronauts) and we made rockets to launch them in the air. One of the rockets blew up, so the egg went flying into the concrete and it burst! The rockets were made from a plastic bag, a garbage bag, 2 cups of cement, string, duct tape, and a 2 liter bottle. Building the rockets was so much fun. Everyone built it differently, but many of us shared our ideas!

There was a big room with the fastest plane in the world. We didn’t go inside the plane because it is very delicate and special. We went to an exhibit with real
and model planes, and there were a bunch of image4games that we could play. There were rides that we
went on, too! There was also flying gizmo show, with remote control flying machines. Some of them went so high, and one of them did a loop around everyone. It was awesome to see all the different types of things that can fly, from dragonflies to rocketships.

We learned about the race to the moon, space, and how to build rockets. It’s so much easier, and more fun, to learn with live examples!

Family Studies

By: Meridian Kindergarteners and 5th Graders

At Meridian, our students learn about communities and families starting in Kindergarten, and continue these discussions through 5th grade. In the fall, Kindergarteners participate in a Family Studies Unit, and 5th graders engage in a Family Heritage Unit. Kindergarteners (with the help of their parents!) construct puzzle pieces, share what makes their family unique, discuss different traditions and values, and write stories about a particular family experience. They talk about family structures, the roles and responsibilities we have in our families, the holidays they celebrate and more. 5th graders explore how a family’s heritage shapes its identity. They interview relatives to collect information and stories about their family’s ancestors and cultural background, write memoirs, and complete a research project about a country connected to their family’s heritage. These units will culminate with a morning of sharing and presentations before Winter Break. In preparation for our celebration, we asked Kindergarteners and 5th graders to share their learning.

kindergarten[In Kindergarten] we are learning how things and people are different. We’ve learned that sometimes we don’t look the same, but actually are the same on the inside. Families are important, and it’s nice to talk to our families about what makes us special. We think we will keep talking about families for a long time. We don’t understand why yet, but it is fun to learn.  We also talk a lot about Meridian Cares (I care for myself, I care for others, I care for our place) because it is like what we do at home with our families. We do activities that help us learn about why Meridian Cares is important at school and at home.

[In 5th grade] we’re learning our family’s origins and researching details about our families. We are making a video about where we are historically from, and about our families now. We are using pictures, old and new, and finding music, too. The video explains who our family is, where our ancestors came from, and interesting facts about those countries. A lot of people don’t really know or understand their heritage. Learning about that is important because you should know who you are and where you came from. The research process also helps to develop our writing skills. Our family heritage unit ties into other areas of study, and expands into folktales, so it is nice to have overlap. Family heritage connects to Global Studies and exposes us to other cultures and regions. The fact that we are studying people we know and care about makes it more personal and engaging.