CM . . . .Volume V Number 16 . . . . April 9, 1999
The most famous event of the winter carnival is the canoe race (course en canot) where teams from around the world attempt to cross the St, Lawrence River. They paddle against strong currents, freezing water and ice. Another chilling event is the snow bath (bain de neige) for which participants wear only a bathing suit (maillot de bain)! Some of the other interesting activities include a soap box derby (course de tacot), cross-country skiing (ski de fond), a dogsled race (course de traineaux a chiens) and a car race on ice (le Grand prix auto sur glace).Two British Columbia teachers have joined forces to create this activity book which focuses on language arts and creative writing. The book is absolutely jam-packed with ideas and worksheets designed to develop students' imaginations and sensitivity toward others and to find an outlet for their self-expression. Twenty holidays, ranging from the familiar to the less well-known, are featured. Representative of the many cultures one might find in a Canadian classroom, the holidays encompass both the religious and the secular nature of the many celebrations that take place throughout the school year.
Each holiday is introduced with a page of notes to the teacher - warm-up or pre-writing activities, teaching strategies and a brief overview are provided. Following the introduction are a number of reproducible stories and worksheets, each of them suited to the type of holiday featured. For example, the section on Thanksgiving asks students to complete a web indicating those things for which they are most thankful while the Hallowe'en activities focus on mood and imagery as the students write ghostly tales. Wordsearches, crosswords and other word puzzles develop vocabulary and provide enjoyment. Students also have opportunities to write short stories and poetry- haiku, cinquain, concrete and partner poems-- as well as to participate in storytelling, speech making and drama (Reader's Theatre, for example). Research organizers, such as charts, story maps and timelines, are also included. With the range of holiday themes and activities, the suggestions offered can easily be adapted to suit one's classroom situation in terms of both grade and ability levels of the students. A list of recommended resources and a language skills index are provided.
Not just another collection of "spare-time" holiday worksheets, this book is a dual celebration-- not only of culture, but also of the richness of language.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, Manitoba.
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