Part 1 The Seasonal Round
Lesson 1 Birthday Calendars
English Language Arts, Social Studies
Purpose of Lesson
Students are introduced to the concept of the seasonal round and how folklife traditions vary from season to season. They begin charting dates of personal interest on seasonal round calendars by starting with birthdays. They research birthday traditions in their own communities and around the world.
Lesson Objectives/Louisiana Content Standards, Benchmarks, and Foundation Skills
1. Students learn the concept of the seasonal round and how it influences folklife.
2. Students interview family members and others to collect and compare birthday traditions.
3. Students analyze data they collect on birth dates.
4. Students research and compare birthday traditions in their communities and around the world.
2-5 class periods
Supplies for making a big class calendar, computer software or art supplies for drawing ideal cakes and assembling a cake quilt; optional: copies of a one-page yearly calendar. If your students will be doing fieldwork, you may need digital cameras, audio recorders, or video recorders in addition to notepads and pencils as well as appropriate fieldwork forms. Print out and duplicate any worksheets or rubrics that you will be using.
Background Information for the Teacher
You will be able to create any type of seasonal round calendar you choose by using blanks of the Seasonal Round Worksheet to fill in various findings. The circle can become a chart that displays many types of data: birthdays, school events, community events, family celebrations, state holidays, national holidays, international holidays, climate variations, changes in work and play, agricultural activities.
Print and copy a Seasonal Round Worksheet for each student and yourself. If you are going to create a class chart of birthdays, print out and label an extra copy. You may enlarge it on a copier, or design and decorate a large wheel to hang in the classroom. You may also want big seasonal round calendars for later projects in the following lessons. If necessary, adapt a large one-page yearly calendar by dividing it into quadrants defined by the solstices on June 21 (longest daylight) and December 21 (shortest daylight) and the equinoxes, when daylight and darkness are nearly equal, on March 20 (vernal equinox) and September 22 (autumnal equinox). If using the Calendar Clues Worksheet, print and copy one for each student. Bookmark weather information for your community and make a chart for students to graph the changing sunrises and sunsets so they can watch the solstices and equinoxes through the seasonal round. If using Venn diagrams, Venn Diagram shows how to use them for comparisons.
4th Grade Activities
1. Give students copies of the Seasonal Round Worksheet. Ask them to indicate the current month by marking a large "X" inside the circle. Then ask them to mark a small "x" on the circumference of the circle to indicate where they think the day of the month would fall. Students should compare results and as a class reach consensus on where the "x" for the date should fall. Repeat this procedure for their birth months and dates, then ask students to write their full birth dates in the correct month, for example, 7/23/2002.
2. Create a large class seasonal round calendar that will stay posted all year and begin class documentation of the seasonal round by marking all the students' and the teacher's birthdays, using initials and perhaps a small drawing or sticker. Or, just make a class birthday calendar on a small seasonal round calendar or a yearly calendar. As a class, analyze the data. In which quadrant do most birthdays fall? Which month? Do more boys or girls have birthdays in certain months? Ask students to use the Calendar Clues Worksheet to help them draw conclusions from the data they have collected by first stating an observation in the Because column, then analyzing what data caused them to conclude this and recording it in the I can tell column. For example, "Because 6 boys and 2 girls have birthdays in March, I can tell that more boys have birthdays in March." Then progress to a larger block of time, for example, "Because 11 of the 20 students in our class were born between March 21 and June 21, I can tell that most of our class members have birthdays between the spring equinox and the summer solstice." Students can create categories to calculate, noting how many students are certain ages for example. They could begin recording their conclusions in a class book called "Calendar Conclusions."
3. Ask students to take their personal calendars home and add birthdays for family members, pets, and friends. Students may compare results in small groups or as a class and add the data to their charts or graphs from Step 2 above.
4. Use this as an opportunity to study birthday traditions among students and their families and around the world. First, ask a student to describe a birthday party to the class, their own or someone else's. Appoint a scribe to take notes. Class members should ask questions to get details. Discuss with the class how others celebrate. Many children in the United States have similar parties, which vary more by age group than other factors, but students may have unique family customs that differ. Even recent immigrant students figure out birthday party protocol quickly, employing popular culture character themes, cake, candles, wishes, ice cream, treat bags, and the "Happy Birthday" song. They may celebrate with other cultural traditions privately, however. Add the notes, essays, and stories to the class "Calendar Conclusions" book, or start a new "Birthday Traditions" book.
5. Ask half the class to interview adults of various ages about childhood birthday traditions perhaps choosing a specific birthday such as their 10th (see Unit II ) and half to research birthdays around the world in books and on the Internet. Students could compile results of both studies in a classroom exhibit including interview recordings or short transcriptions, drawings, photographs, artifacts, foods, games, and multimedia slide presentations.
4th Grade Explorations and Extensions
1. Print out Venn diagrams or draw by hand to compare and contrast two birthday celebrations, such as those of a boy and a girl, people of varying ages, or different cultural groups.
2. Research the history of the "Happy Birthday" song.
3. Invite a family baker or a commercial baker to interview about how they learned to bake, favorite recipes, tricks of the trade, best cake, worst cake. Or, make a fieldtrip to a local bakery to watch cakes being baked and decorated and to interview bakers about how they learned their trade, special language or tools, or stories about memorable customers.
4. Decorate an ideal birthday cake using art supplies such as colored paper, markers, paint, glitter, and pipe cleaners or computer software to draw and decorate cakes with clip art or other graphics. Make a slide show with all the drawing, or hang cake artwork in a class "cake quilt" design on the classroom wall. Alternate cake squares with text square from students' own stories about birthdays. See the sample cake quilt.
5. Compare the baking, buying, and eating of birthday cakes with other Louisiana cakes, for example wedding cakes, King cakes, Valentine's Day cakes, Christmas or other holiday cakes in discussions, essays, or drawings. Make and decorate a large Venn diagram comparing all the cakes that students identify.
6. Invite an older adult to class to teach a birthday party game from childhood such as Drop the Handkerchief or Button, Button. Students' family interviews from Step 5 of 4th Grade Activities above might reveal someone who would be appropriate.