Holiday celebrations 'around the world' at Decas Elementary

Dec 19, 2021

Second grade students at Decas Elementary traveled “around the world” without ever leaving their cafeteria on Thursday, Dec. 16. 

Decas staff — including paraprofessionals and literary specialists — and PTA volunteers facilitated 10 stations’ worth of activities, each based around the winter holiday traditions in different countries around the globe. 

During the event, which was spearheaded by teacher Natasha Pike, the students moved from table to table, collecting “stamps” in their passports and learning about different cultures. Students also completed a craft relevant to the holiday traditions they learned about at each station. 

Assistant Principal Jo-Anne Gibbs said students were also given a packet of journal pages — one for each country. The kids were given about 20 minutes at each station before they were asked to pack their craft into a paper bag and venture off to the next country. 

“They’re having fun and they’re learning a little bit about some different cultures,” she said, surveying the cafeteria full of students busily working. 

She noted that the event was dual-purpose: It was fun and educational for the students, and it also allowed the second grade teachers a block of much-needed free time. 

“It’s giving the teachers a nice break to get to go over to the new school and unpack their classrooms,” Gibbs said. “It’s part of why we put this all together.”

She praised the staff and volunteers on hand who helped run the stations that kept students occupied and engaged in holiday activities. 

“It takes a village,” Gibbs said.

At the U.S. table, students made reindeer food — oatmeal with glitter mixed in, designed to help Santa’s reindeer find their way and enjoy a snack. At the Sweden table, students colored a wreath with candles, which is typically worn as a headdress when celebrating St. Lucia Day. When they reached the Canada table, students decorated a Christmas tree. In China, the students folded construction paper into a fan. 

The second graders visiting France were tasked with coloring a shoe. 

“I learned that instead of stockings they put shoes out for Santa to put stuff in,” said Lydia, who continued carefully coloring her shoe as she explained the craft.

A few tables over, students were in a different hemisphere entirely. 

“We’re celebrating Christmas in Australia by painting seashells and glittering them up for the holidays because it’s summer in Australia,” said volunteer Kelly Churbuck. 

Churbuck said the activity had been going well — and said she’d been pleasantly surprised that students largely had enough time to finish their shells before the 20 minutes was up.

Other tables allowed students to learn about the winter holidays in Italy, Mexico and Germany.

Principal Bethany Chandler said it was a nice opportunity for the kids to do some hands-on activities to learn about other cultures. 

She said that one student, upon “visiting” the U.K., told her, “My Uncle is from England, and I’ve always wanted to go!”