| By Gale Staff |
Elementary and middle school students undoubtedly have a challenging time getting back into the swing of things after the long holiday season in December. Let’s be honest—the return to the classroom after winter break is a struggle for all school employees too. Make use of Gale resources to plan engaging lessons to help ease everyone back into the academic schedule.
Dive back into the school year with an on-theme subject like New Year’s Day. Gale In Context‘s databases are curated by grade level and packed with unit plans and activity ideas to celebrate the new year and get a fresh start.
Teach Students about the Calendar Year
Ask your students: why are there 365 days in a year? Most of the world’s countries follow a westernized annual system called the Gregorian Calendar, which is designed to reflect how long it takes the Earth to travel around the sun. Each year is divided into 12 unequal months; once the 12 months are over, we begin a new cycle. January 1st marks the first day of the new calendar year, and the corresponding holiday, New Year’s Day, is observed throughout most of the world.
Activity Idea: Have students research a culture that doesn’t follow the Gregorian Calendar. When and how do these communities recognize a new year?
Explore New Year’s Day Traditions Around the World
With so many different cultures observing New Year’s Day, it’s exciting to consider the rich diversity of the holiday’s customs. For example, Filipinos set off fireworks, blow horns, and bang on pots and pans; a tradition said to help ward off evil spirits for the year to come. In Greece, families share the St. Basil’s Cake, a special cake that has a coin hidden inside one of the pieces; whoever gets the slice is said to have good luck for the rest of the year—and maybe a sore tooth! Brazilians wear white clothing on New Year’s Day; a tradition meant to inspire good fortune and peace.
New Year’s Day celebrations vary in the United States as well, with different cities hosting their own cultural events. Philadelphia’s Mummers Parade, held on January 1st, is a centuries-old, masquerade-themed festival that attracts thousands of visitors each year. Dozens of American cities hold a Polar Plunge when attendees jump into nearby freezing bodies of water to symbolize a fresh start. Millions of Americans celebrate New Year’s Day by watching a college football game. Many Irish-American families cook a New Year’s Day meal of corned beef and cabbage, whereas those with Italian heritage might whip up some pork and lentils. Both meals are meant to bring the eater good luck for the upcoming year.
Activity Idea: Have your elementary or middle school students research another country’s New Year’s Day celebrations using Gale In Context. Ask them to consider how they personally celebrate New Year’s Day in their own homes and encourage them to make a Venn diagram of the differences and similarities between their family’s celebrations and those of another country.
Create a Welcoming Environment for Elementary Learners
Welcome back your younger students with the engaging, fun New Year’s Day lessons and activities in Gale In Context: Elementary. Students can easily navigate book articles, magazines, pictures, and more, and the information is always written with elementary learners in mind. Content is crafted using simple sentence structures and colorful images. Plus, many articles include a “Words to Know” section that defines more challenging vocabulary.
Elementary students can explore New Year’s Day customs around the United States and the world in a controlled, distraction-free environment. They can find related concepts via embedded hyperlinks and helpful suggestions. Maybe you can all learn the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne together? Bonus points if your class actually sings it! Or, create a lesson plan around New Year’s resolutions, and instruct your students to discover the history of this practice.
Activity Idea: Have each student write or draw their New Year’s resolution. Hang these commitments around your classroom or library and have students reflect on them periodically throughout the semester.
Re-Engage Your Middle School Students
Let Gale In Context help you reinvigorate your sleepy pre-teens. Gale In Context: Middle School is expertly crafted to balance the academic needs of your middle school students. They can practice their critical thinking and research literacy skills with engaging, age-appropriate content. Gale’s middle school content integrates with the curriculum standards for grades six through eight, so you can rely on our digital archives no matter which subjects you teach.
Make it easy for your middle school students to explore the New Year’s Day theme independently. They’ll find everything from magazine articles on New Year’s Day surfing traditions to podcasts to New Year’s Day recipe ideas.
Activity Idea: In the United States, New Year’s Day often marks the first day of new legislation. Encourage your students to research any new laws taking effect in your state as of January 1st.
Are you ready to make a New Year’s resolution to streamline lesson planning with Gale In Context? Learn more about the products or contact your rep.