Students in kindergarten to sixth grade at Albert Einstein Academy of Letters, Arts and Sciences’ STEAM campus traveled around the world Wednesday, as they explored the food, games, clothing, history and traditions of six different countries.
The school’s first World Culture Day allowed students to learn about customs from across the globe and take ownership of a country and culture of their own.
“We focused each grade level on a different country,” said Scott Cusack, principal of the Albert Einstein Elementary School. “Since we’re also a project-based learning school each grade had a big project they had to do. It’s almost like we recreated a simplified version of Epcot… they created an exhibit for the countries they studied.”
These exhibits included a drawn Taj Mahal, a Western Wall out of boxes, the Pyramids at Giza out of small boxes and the Great Barrier Reef out of paper drawings.
The all-day event was born out of the school’s World Languages program which spends half its time learning the languages of Mandarin and Spanish and the other half of the time studying culture.
For the first World Culture Day, each grade levels created stations to teach other students about the cultures of China, Mexico, Australia, The Philippines, India and the Middle East which included Egypt and Israel.
“Each country has three stations that are food, craft and activity and they represent their country and act as tour guides to their peers,” said Alyssa Peretz, a fourth grade teacher who helped coordinate the event with the school’s World Language teachers. “What’s most important is that they have that opportunity to teach because that always solidifies that knowledge that a student gains when they are learning.”
For China, student made paper lanterns, explained a writing activity on paper Pandas and taught others how to make Oreo cookie panda bears.
Students studying Mexico created paper mache flower, instructed others on how to make maracas and ponchos out of paper bags and shared quesadillas with their peers.
Students also played games like chess when visiting India and learned how to write their names in hieroglyphics in the Middle East.
The project took three months of planning and teaching to prepare for the schoolwide event during the students’ World Language classes.
Peretz said the World Culture Day allowed the students, who are from countries all over the world, to share their cultures with their peers.
“These are kids that are representative of countries all over the world themselves,” she said. “The kids are also making these connections between what is familiar to them and what they learn in other cultures.”
The school plans on leaving the crafts, activities and posters up at the school for the school’s Open House and World Showcase Thursday, to share the projects with the community as part of the final element of project based learning.
“The final step [to project based learning] is to have an audience or connect with the community and so that’s our connection,” Cusack said. “That makes the project more valuable for kids; they put more ownership into it.”
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