Teacher Feature: Toddlers Explore Family Traditions

It’s Teacher Feature Thursday!

This week we are featuring Anna Wilson. Her two year old classroom was learning all about family traditions and decided to spend a day focusing on decorations.


What were your topics of exploration?

Our class was exploring family traditions and holiday celebrations. It can often be hard to address the holidays at school because people celebrate many different things, but we decided that we could explore some of these traditions together. We spoke to each family to find out what customs they observe. We then made lessons around these ideas so the students could connect what they learn in the classroom to their home life. This particular lesson focused on holiday decorations. We explored the National Botanical Gardens to see the greenery and trains that many of our families talked about putting up each year.

What were your learning objectives? (What did you want your children to take away from the lesson?)

The main objective for this lesson was for the students to learn about themselves and others in a way that they could connect to and understand. We wanted to give students opportunities to become a part of the classroom and community so that each child feels accepted and gains a sense of belonging. We also wanted to provide opportunities for our students to use their senses to explore the objects during the visit.

What was most successful about your lesson?

The students really enjoyed seeing all the wonderful plants and trains. They were engaged and excited.

What could you have done differently? What recommendations would you have for another teacher trying out this lesson?

I would recommend bringing manipulatives for the students to hold. They aren’t allowed to touch any of the decorations in this space, so something they can handle will help them stay engaged.

Here are a few images from her unit on holiday decorations:

DSCN1547The visit began at the U.S. Botanic Gardens. During the month of January the Gardens create lush scenes for model trains and decorate their green house with seasonal plants.

DSCN1559Anna and her co-teacher slowly wheeled the group through the gardens asking the group what they heard, smelled, and saw. The kids also enjoyed communicating with each other through pointing and squeals as they moved around the displays.

DSCN1570They especially loved the little tunnel in the space. Their teachers made train sounds and had the group pretend they were a train traveling underground!

DSCN1573Anna was very careful to give the group plenty of time to look. She would narrate what the group was seeing and ask them to predict where they thought the train would show up next.

DSCN1597After spending a long time looking at the trains, Anna found a quiet spot in front of the Christmas tree to gather the group. She asked the children to use their different senses to explore the tree in front of them. Anna then passed out jingle bells to each child so they could have a manipulative to use while she read Snowballs by Lois Ehlert.

DSCN1587The group explored the bells with all of their senses.

DSCN1602Anna noticed that the group was really enjoying the space and the bells and decided to read a second book (Jingle Bells by Darcy May). 

The class had a wonderful time studying family traditions. Check back next week for another teacher feature!