Holiday Traditions Around the World

The Owls in Ms. Jessica’s class enjoyed learning about holiday traditions from different countries and cultures. The children love to look at the globe and map together! During December, they located Russia, Sweden, Norway, Mexico and Africa. With winter growing nearer, the Owls first took a look at the Russian Winter Festival: colorful lights, decorations, costumes, horse-drawn sleighs (called “troikas”), ice skating, and music are just a few of the ways the season is celebrated. After seeing the impressive ice sculpture display at the Moscow festival, the Owls got the opportunity to work hands-on with different shaped ice cubes to try and create their own sculptures! 

Next the Owls learned about St. Lucia Day, a holiday celebrated in Sweden, Norway, and other European countries. One of the traditions is to celebrate light overcoming darkness in the winter season by lighting many candles and singing songs. The class watched a short clip of children dressed as St. Lucia singing together. The Owls then got to make their own woven heart, a traditional holiday decoration from Sweden. It was a little tricky, but with practice everyone was able to make a beautiful heart!

Ms. Jessica’s class then learned about a Christmas tradition originating from Mexico called Las Posadas. It is a nine-day celebration during which families reenact the story of Mary and Joseph searching for a place to stay. Large groups of people, often in costumes and carrying candles, travel throughout their neighborhoods singing carols and knocking on doors looking for las posadas (the inns). On the ninth day everyone comes together to share food and drinks and the children break open a star shaped piñata. Of course the Owls couldn’t pass up the opportunity to celebrate with a piñata of their own!

The final holiday the class learned about was Kwanzaa. The Owls learned that much like Hanukkah, a candle is lit for each of the seven nights of Kwanzaa. For each night, a different principle is celebrated: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. They learned that many of the traditions of Kwanzaa are based on customs from parts of Africa, used to celebrate their heritage.


Dinosaur Research

For the Owls in Ms. Jessica’s class, December has been a month of dinosaurs! After seeing how interested the Hoot Owls and Owlets were in dinosaurs the class decided to learn a little more about them. The students learned that dinosaurs are reptiles and hatch from eggs. They did a fun activity using eyedroppers and warm water to free toy dinosaurs from their icy eggs! 

The Owls learned the words carnivoreherbivore, and omnivore and played a game matching dinosaurs with their diets. They also discovered that everyone in our class is an omnivore! The children had some messy fun making dinosaur footprints with paint after finding out that scientists learn a lot about dinosaurs from fossilized footprints.

The Owls have been having a blast researching and pretending to be their favorite dinosaurs, including the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Ankylosaurus, Spinosaurus, and Pachycephalosaurus! 


Hip Hop History

November was Hip Hop History Month so the Hoot Owls learned about the Father of Hip Hop, DJ Kool Herc! The class read When the Beat was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop, by Laban Carrick Hill.

Ms. Traci showed the Hoot Owls a record, and they got to listen to it on a record player. The students then watched some videos of B-Boys and B-Girls (the dancers who performed to DJ Kool Herc’s breakbeats), before trying out our own dance moves! They were definitely working on their gross motor skills and coordination with all their dancing. Most of the Hoot Owls also gave themselves an original hip hop name!


Winter Clothing Drive

Join the Hoot Owls in participating in a winter clothing drive organized by the local non-profit, Hip Hop for Change. The drive benefits unsheltered families and individuals in our neighboring communities. New clothes, gently used clothes and new toiletries will be accepted through January 7th. If you would like to participate, please place your donation in a sealed bag and drop it off in the donation bin outside the Hoot Owl classroom. See below for more guidance.



Before the Thanksgiving break, the Hoot Owls and Owlets in Ms. Jessica’s class considered some of the things they are grateful for. They read the book We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, by Traci Sorrel. “Otsaliheliga” is the Cherokee word for expressing gratitude. The book taught the students many other Cherokee words, and showed some of the traditions and celebrations that members of the Cherokee Nation experience throughout the year.

After reading the story, the Owls made their own handprint Thanksgiving turkeys while sharing what they are grateful for.


Marble Tracks

The Hoot Owls and Owlets in Ms. Jessica’s class have been showing a lot of interest in building marble tracks.

This became such a popular classroom toy that they decided to try creating their own marble tracks. Instead of plastic pieces that fit together, the Owls used peg boards, foam tubing, and brass fasteners to create unique paths for their marbles. The class was able to cut the foam tubes into different shapes and lengths to get the exact pieces they wanted. The Owls noticed how fast and far the marbles traveled depending on how they placed their tubes. It was an exciting new way to do one of their favorite activities, and to introduce basic physics concepts!


Pumpkin Seed Estimation

The Hoot Owls practiced their early science and math skills by estimating how many seeds were inside a large pumpkin. Their guesses ranged from 4 to 100,000! After determining their estimates, the Hoot Owls needed to collect data, so it was time to start scooping out the insides of the pumpkin. While not all students participated in the messy job of getting the pumpkin seeds out of the pumpkin, all the Hoot Owls helped in the data collection by counting out at least 10 pumpkin seeds into muffin tins.

Once all the seeds were sorted by tens, the class worked together to count by tens all the way to 367! After all the seeds were counted, Ms. Traci roasted the pumpkin seeds, which the Hoot Owls enjoyed tasting during their Halloween celebration.


Giving Tress

The Hoot Owls have been curious about trees. They learned about the parts of trees and different types of trees. The class read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and learned about the many things that trees give us. The Hoot Owls also read the book Sticks by Diane Alber which taught them about objects that are made out of trees.

The Hoot Owls then created their own giving trees, which was a multi-step activity. First, the Hoot Owls collected sticks that had been piling up on their playground. Next, they painted a beautiful fall background, and then glued their sticks to it the shape of a tree. The students also added some pieces of felt to the trees to represent autumn leaves. Ms. Traci asked the Hoot Owls, “What does your giving tree give you?”  Responses included:

“My giving tree gives me oxygen, shade, maple syrup.”


“My giving tree gives me some of its apples. My giving tree would let me climb it.


My giving tree gives me leaves and apples. I will gather the leaves and eat the apples. I’ll climb up too.


Check out pictures of the Hoot Owls creating their giving trees below.


Collaborative Owls

Student’s in Ms. Jessica’s class have been learning about collaboration, which is their social and emotional learning theme for October. The Owls learned that collaborating means working together to make or do something. It also means using teamwork and listening to each other’s ideas. The students tried out their collaborative skills with a few activities. The first collaborative activity was to build a structure together during circle time. Each student took turns adding one or two blocks to the structure until it was complete. Sometimes pieces fell when they tried to add them, but they encouraged each other to try again!

The children also made a multi-step, collaborative art piece to celebrate fall. First, the Owls used eyedroppers to drip red, orange, brown, and yellow watercolor paint onto giant coffee filter paper. They were surprised to see the color spread quickly over the paper and blend together! Next, each Owl helped cut out leaf shapes from the painted paper. They chose whether they wanted to cut out pre-drawn leaf shapes, or create their own unique shapes.

Finally, the leaves were attached to the tree bulletin board in their classroom. The Owls were proud to see how their individual contributions helped create one big masterpiece!


Wind Research

The Hoot Owls and Owlets in Ms. Jessica’s class noticed that it has started to get windier outside. The call decided to do some research after one Hoot Owl asked “Where does wind come from?” They learned that research is a good way to learn more about something, and that there are many different ways to do research. The class found a book from the library about weather, as well as a video from the internet featuring an expert. Both resources were helpful in teaching the students that wind is a result of air changing temperatures combined with the way the Earth rotates.

After finishing their research, the class made windsocks. Using paper and streamers each student created a tool to help them see which direction the wind is blowing. The Hoot Owls and Owlets enjoyed testing out their windsocks on the play yard!