During the holidays, students are probably already focused on family traditions without even realizing it. Adding an assignment about holiday family traditions that also features video is a way to keep students engaged when the coming winter break has them distracted, while still teaching important social studies and language arts literacy concepts.
In addition, focusing on family traditions gives you an opportunity to teach cultural understanding. Learning respect for different cultures and traditions is an important part of a student’s schooling. Assignments like the one below foster empathy and cultural awareness, while at the same time letting students reflect on and appreciate their own traditions.
Grade and subject recommendations
This assignment would work best for upper elementary or middle school social studies classes or language arts literacy classes (though we offer some suggestions for other subjects below).
Here are a few ways to modify a lesson involving family tradition videos to either extend the assignment or adapt it to other subjects:
- Foreign Languages: Have students try the activity below in Spanish, French, or whichever language you teach.
- Social Studies or Foreign Languages: Instead of having students describe their own family traditions, ask them to describe traditions in different cultures around the world. For example, ask students to create a video illustrating a holiday or popular custom in a given country (e.g. Día de Muertos in Mexico, Lunar New Year in China, Korea, and Vietnam).
- Extension activities: You can expand the activity by having students interview relatives about family traditions or by presenting the videos during an International Week or Diversity Week celebration. Students can also write an essay related to their tradition to accompany their video.
Before the lesson: Consider sending home a note to parents, letting them know you’ll be discussing family traditions in class and creating a video as part of that unit. Ask parents to talk to their children about family traditions, and request that they share images or video clips related to those traditions on a Google Drive, if possible. Students who don’t have personal images can still use stock images and video clips to tell the story of their family tradition. You can find free stock image sites in this blog post.
Session 1: Talk about the concept of tradition — what it is and how it relates to culture and family. Discuss how the holiday season is one with a lot of family traditions, and you’ll be asking them to share some of their family traditions in a video.
Let students know they’ll be creating a video about a family tradition using Animoto. Videos must be under five minutes and share a few traditions the student engages in at this time of year. Even if students don’t celebrate a religious or cultural tradition, let them know they can share anything their family does during the winter that’s an annual tradition.
Give students time to brainstorm. Depending on the age group, you may want to let students try a Think, Pair, Share activity where students talk important family traditions — you can read more about Think, Pair, Share here. You may also want to hand out a graphic organizer like this Brainstorming Web to help students to stay on topic in their video and to decide what elements of their traditions they want to share and how.
Encourage students to bring in materials for their video the next day, preferably by uploading files to a Google Drive. Check out the Before the Lesson procedure for tips on how to make this process smoother and for ways to help students without materials from home.
Questions for discussion:
- What’s a tradition?
- What makes it a tradition?
- Does your family have a special tradition?
Session 2: If necessary, review how to use Animoto. Then, have students work individually to build their family tradition videos based on the brainstorming work they did the day before. Remind them to select music and a style that relate to their tradition.
After the assignment
Assessment: Collect the brainstorming worksheets along with the video itself for assessment based on your rubric. You can find a sample rubric for video assignments here.
Sharing videos: Post your students’ videos on your class website, so families can share in the assignment. Or find an opportunity to share the videos at a class holiday party or International Week.
Have you had your students share family traditions? We’d love to hear about it! Share your experiences with us in the comments below or reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Or if you’ve never used Animoto before, find out how to sign up for free accounts for you and your students.