New Year's in Japan

New Year's in Japan

by Judie Haynes

December and January are a great time to have your students share their heritage with the rest of the school population.

Winter celebrations is another theme for December/January. It is a great time to have your students share their heritage with the rest of the school population. So reserve that space in your school's center hallway or decorate the wall outside your classroom. The scope of this unit is wide because many of our ESL students do not celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah. You need to look at your student population before deciding how you will introduce this theme. Winter holidays that could be included are Diwali (India), New Year's Day, Epiphany (European), Chinese New Year (Asia).

I am using Japanese New Year to demonstrate how I teach winter celebrations to my ESL students. This lesson is written to follow the TESOL Pre-K-12 ESL Standards.

Lesson Topic:

inter celebrations

Proficiency/Grade Level:

Beginning through Advanced students Grades 1-8

Content Concepts and Skills:

Drawing and labeling pictures about holiday customs and traditions from their countries (Beginners); Explaining holidays and traditions (Intermediate); arranging information into paragraphs (Advanced).

Vocabulary needed:

(for teaching Christmas and Hanukkah in the United States) decorations, lights, bells, sleigh, families, angel, bow candy cane, fireplace, chimney, evergreen, gifts, presents, candles, Menorah, quiet, reindeer, Santa Claus, gingerbread, holly, wrapping paper, wreath. Add vocabulary if you also plan to teach Kwanzaa.

For teaching the Japanese New Year's customs:

Osho-gatsu, kagami-mochi, hatsu-mode, zoni, kites, nengajo, otoshidama, caruta, kimono. bamboo, pine

Materials or Resources

parent and peer interviews, books such as Celebrations! ( Anabel and Barnabas Kindersley with Unicef, DK Publishing, Inc, New York: 1997.)

Instructional sequence

Descriptors and Progress Indicators

During this unit students worked on the following skills:


Activity Downloads

Note: To view the classroom activities, you must have Acrobat Reader intalled. Acrobat is a free application available from Adobe Systems.

PDF fileWho What Where Winter Word Search (9k .PDF)

Related Links

How Weather Affects Our Lives
Cold winter weather in the Northeast region of the United States provides an excellent opportunity to teach a unit on weather to my ESL students.

Resource Picks

Celebrations!
From the authors of Children Just Like Me, comes this wonderful book of holiday celebrations around the world featuring children from eighteen countries. Conveniently arranged by seasons and includes secular holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving, as well as religious holidays from a variety of world religions.

Yahooligans
The kids' version of the popular search engine and website directory, Yahoo!. Features clubs, games, downloads, news, net events, as well as teacher's and parent's guides. There is a terrific culture section.