This lesson gives the students an opportunity to see that every family has traditions they participate in throughout the year.
- A House for Hermit Crab, by Eric Carle; ISBN 0-590-42567-6
- A Busy Year, by Leo Lionni; ISBN 0-590-47273-.
- A Child's Calendar, by John Updike; ISBN 0-8234-1766-2
- Too Many Tamales, by Gary Soto; ISBN 0-698-11412-4
- Thunder Cake, by Patricia Polacco; ISBN 0-399-22231-6
- Dear Rebecca, Winter Is Here, by Jean Craighead George; ISBN 0-06-021139-3
- When this Box is Full, by Patricia Lillie; ISBN 0688120164
Background for Teachers
This activity is called Traditions in Our Family. This lesson gives
the students an opportunity to see that every family has traditions
they participate in throughout the year. The ideal time to begin this
activity is within the first two weeks of school. Do steps two to four
first, at the beginning of the school year, when discussing what each
child did in the summer. Then repeat this activity as each new season
begins. This gives the student a sense of belonging to a family and a
community. Before teaching this lesson, the months of the year and
the names of the seasons need to be reviewed in oral and/or written
form. You may choose to teach the steps of this lesson all in the
succession of a day or over the span of many days, as your schedule
and preference dictates.
In the book, When This Box is Full, by Patricia Lillie (illustrated
by Donald Crews), a child fills a box with things that represent each
month of the year. There are several repetitions of the months in the
story. Therefore, the students can read along. The story ends with
the character (child) wanting to share what is in the box with you,
the reader. After reading the book, the teacher will ask the students
to name each month of the year and each of the four seasons. The
teacher will then present his/her box to the class and the students will
have a chance to see if they can match an item in the box (items may
or may not be the same objects as in the book) with the appropriate
month of the year.
Intended Learning Outcomes
1. Demonstrate a positive learning attitude.
6. Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written, and nonverbal form.
Invitation to Learn
Within the first two weeks of school is the ideal time to do
this activity. Students will sit on the rug as you discuss their
understanding of a tradition. Then teach them the "Tradition Rap".
This rap should be a part of the classroom repertoire throughout
the year. Next, you will read When This Box is Full. The repetition
of this book lends itself to shared reading as the students read the
months of the year with you.
- Read aloud the book When This Box is Full. The repetition of
this book lends itself to shared reading, as the students read the
months of the year with you.
- Students will be in their seats for this activity. You will want
to have prepared name sticks, months of the year/seasons word
strips, and a box of items that represent each month. Name
sticks lend themselves to giving every student the opportunity
to participate in this activity. Select a name stick and ask that
student to recall a month of the year. When the student says a
name, she will place that month card on the board in the right
order beginning with January. After all the months are named,
ask a student to name a season. Discuss what months go with
that specific season and place the season above the appropriate
three months in the northern hemisphere. Then continue using
the name sticks to select a student to come and pick an item
out of the box and match the item with the appropriate month.
Continue this process until all 12 items are matched with a
- Ask the students to tell about some of the things they did in
the summer with their family. Write these things on the board.
Give each child a chance to tell you something, even if it is as simple as watching T.V. Tally items that are repeated. You
might want to let a student tally for you.
- Give students My___________Season paper. Have the students
fill in the blanks of "In the summer I_____________with___
__________." (e.g. In the summer, I went camping with my
cousins.) The student will illustrate a picture to go with the
writing. As the year progresses into Fall, Winter, and Spring,
repeat this activity. Most students should begin to write with
- Put pages into a class book and have the student read what
he/she wrote, to the class. This gives the student a sense of
- Practice The Tradition Rap, then follow instructional steps two
thru four at the beginning of fall, winter, and spring.
- Do interactive writing about the months of the year and the
- Put a "This Box is Full" box in a writing center. Students will
pull an item from the box and write about it.
- Share other books with the students about the months and
seasons of the year and traditions some families enjoy (see
additional resources below).
- Copy the Tradition Rap and have each student take it home and
share it with his/her family.
- Send the Family Questionnaire home with each student and have
the students sit down with their family and answer questions
about traditions they share in their home. Students will return
with the black-line paper and share their family traditions with
- Use the Rubric Check List for Months and Seasons where the
students will name the months of the year and the seasons as
the teacher marks the correct answers.
- Use an assessment where the students will match the
appropriate item to the appropriate month.
- Teachers will check the students' writing using the writing
assessment rubric for writing competence.
Goodlad, J. I., Soder, R., Sirotnik, K. A., (1990). The Moral Dimensions of Teaching. Jossey-
Bass Inc. Publishers, San Francisco, California.
Classrooms contain children of enormous diversity in family
background, culture, language, and preparation for school activities,
as well as huge variations in both readiness and the ability to learn.
Teachers must ask: "How can I meet the needs of every student,
regardless of his/her learning style or disposition?" This lesson lends
itself to helping every child feel a part of a community by recognizing
that all families, schools, and communities have traditions and they can
be a part of traditions that surround them.