If your class is weary of standard Thanksgiving fare, perhaps Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will spark their enthusiasm. Weare featuring Thanksgiving activities including reading, writing, model building, balloon modeling, creating original greeting cards, and sending cyber greeting cards.
Students may enjoy reading a description of the big balloon inflation and a history of Macy's parade with pictures of early and memorable balloons, Selections from these articles could be used for lessons on paraphrasing and summarizing.
After reading about Macy's Parade and seeing pictures of memorable balloons and other parade pictures, students may enjoy creating a model parade. Students could work as an entire class or in teams to determine what should be in their parade, to develop criteria for balloon floats and to plan a contest.
Paper mache could be used for the floats and balloons; however, your students might especially enjoy learning to create balloon sculptures. Although some online directions for balloon sculptures are illustrated, andwritten very clearly, many are tips for improving sculptures and written for experienced balloon modelers. Thus arises an authentic writing task: Assign capable students the job of rewriting confusing directions.
An interesting variation of balloon sculpturing, balloon fabrics involves the interlacing or weaving of balloons to create balloon sculptures. These sculptures could be an excellent creative choice for large, unusual and inexpensive school decorations. For ideas, check photos of a variety of balloon fabric designs including a dolphin, a turkey, a snowman, an angel, a Christmas tree, and many more.
A word about materialsSpecial balloons and a pump may be purchased from clown supply stores. I have linked to one online supplier so that you could see the kinds of supplies available; however, it might be helpful to visit a local shop.
Students might be asked to research Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade or balloon modeling for a short oral or written report. They could also be assigned an I Search or a standard research paper. To get them started, suggest that they skim Web pages linked from Thanksgiving Resources for the Classroom for a topic that interests them. Then, with your help, their topic could be oriented toward your subject area.
Some possible topics:
- The history of a balloon character
- The history of parades
- The logistics of managing a parade
- A comparison of two parades
- The history of Macy's Department Store
- The history of balloon making
- The materials to make balloons
- The steps for making balloons
- Creative new uses for parade balloons
- The history of balloon modeling
- Illustrated directions for making an original balloon sculpture
- Interviews with balloon sculpturers or clowns
- Factors determining the strength of material needed for a balloon
- Factors determining the length of time air will be contained in a balloon
- An illustrated description of how an air pump works
Thanksgiving Holidays Around the WorldFor more traditional reading, yet something students may not have seen a hundred times before, check harvest holidays of various cultures. For other ideas, read Part I of this feature.
Show students how easy it is to send cyber Thanksgiving Cards. This is a great medium for short poems and good humor. For ideas for unusually creative greeting cards, check cut out, pop up and tunnel books in last week's feature on creative display of student work.
I hope some of these ideas will be useful or that they have triggered some of your own creative ideas for celebrating Thanksgiving.