Union students take in cultural Christmas traditions

Emily M. Hobbs Staff Writer

December 12, 2013

Union Elementary students are being exposed to cultures different from their own through an activity called “Christmas Around the World”. On Wednesday, starting in the morning, the kindergartners at the elementary school rotated around through different classrooms each decorated according to the traditions and thematic colors of the countries they represented.

While in the classrooms, the kindergartners broke into groups, each with its own group leader who passed out packets to the other students in their groups and wore visors decorated to denote their titles.

Kindergarten grade chairwoman Sadora Hayes stressed that all of the teachers have been working really hard on the projects, offering a hands-on approach to learning for the youngsters.

“This has been a group effort,” said Hayes. The teachers, she said, worked diligently on their decorations and research, something clearly demonstrated through their decorations in the hallways and on the doors to the classrooms. Students have worked on a variety of activities including learning about the countries’ flags, their holiday traditions, what they eat and the languages they speak.

In Amy Bass’ class, students learned about Columbia and those in the class that spoke Spanish were able to translate words for the other students to repeat. Spanish is the native tongue in Columbia, and Ms. Bass’ class was able to repeat the Spanish words. Colombians light candles on Dec. 7 in preparation for the holiday season, and the class repeated the Spanish word for candles, which is candela.

“In Columbia the children don’t write letters to Santa,” said Bass. “The children in Columbia write letters to baby Jesus instead.” The students colored the Colombian flag in their packets, which were like cultural passports. These passports had the students draw and color everything from the flags of the countries, different foods, and in Columbia’s case there was baby Jesus in the manger because of the cultural history of the country. Students stayed focused on their work, especially as Bass and her teacher’s assistant Pam Merritt worked the classroom guiding the students.

Other countries that students had a chance to experience included Australia, Italy, and Germany. In the kindergarten hallway students have displayed artwork and a paper tree decorated according to German tradition. Ornaments played a major role, and students colored Christmas trees as well as described the other components of the German Christmas tradition like gingerbread.

Kindergarten teacher Cindy Riley encouraged the students to draw the Australian flag in her classroom, which consists of a red Union jack in the top left with blue background and six stars with varying number of points that are white. The students followed along while she used the overhead and were able to replicate the flags in their packets.

“I want them to try to get it all,” said Riley. She encouraged the students and explained that the flag also as the same three colors that our flag in the United States has.

Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at