Teaching New Year's Eve Around the World

Attention all tired, worn-out, harried teachers: I have good news. Christmas Break is right around the corner!  Bad news: With any break comes the dreaded Sunday Night Blues.  But if you're feeling anything like this guy, then I have just the thing to help you make the transition back to school in January.

  One year after teaching Christmas Around the World before vacation, I realized that many of my ESL students didn't know about the tradition of celebrating New Year's Eve.  Thus, this lesson was born to help us transition back to school in January.  I loved that it was a spiral review of some of the countries we had learned about, and a fun and engaging way to get us back to our typical learning routine.

Sometimes when we return from break we have a short week, so this lesson is designed to take as much or as little time as you need.

As with all of my lessons, I include lots of pictures and videos to appeal to my highly visual learners.  I always start this lesson by discussing NYE traditions in the USA, since it's (somewhat) probable that the kids have watched the ball drop or celebrated in some fashion.  For students who have never celebrated NYE, starting in the USA builds background they can relate to.  From there we hop over to the UK, then I cover Spain and Mexico as one lesson, and finally Canada and France as one lesson. 

To learn about New Year's Eve in the USA, I start by playing a video of the Times Square Ball Drop.  This one is long, but it shows the musicians, the crowded streets, the countdown, and the fireworks.  I usually skip around to let the kids see all the important parts. 

We also learn about the song "Auld Lang Syne" since it comes up in a few other countries we'll read about.  I like the Lea Michele version- easy for the kids to understand!

To learn about NYE in the UK, I play a video of Big Ben and the gorgeous fireworks behind him. 

Did you know about the Spanish tradition to eat 12 grapes at midnight? Some people say to eat 12 grapes in the 12 seconds before the New Year, and some say to eat them in the 12 seconds after...it's up to you which tradition you agree with.  I love to let the kids try the tradition firsthand, so I buy a big bag of grapes at the grocery store and portion them out, and we play along- so much fun! (Just beware of choking hazards!)

Lastly, we learn about traditions from Canada and France.  I tend to focus on Canada, since some people go ice fishing, and my students are always fascinated by it! I've showed this video in the past, but there are plenty available on youtube!

For each country in the unit there are visual vocabulary cards, student friendly definitions, and a paired passage.  There are also some venn diagrams and writing prompts at the end for fast finishers or extension.  

Lesson plans for the first week back? Done! It makes my break a lot more enjoyable when I don't have to worry about what we're doing- no Sunday night blues! 

For Auld Lang Syne, my friends! Happy New Year!


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