With so much excitement generated around the holidays, it can be tough for students to focus on lessons. BOCES 2 teacher Darlene Mikulski found ways to channel all that energy into daily learning accomplishments for her students at Cosgrove Middle School.
Students in the 6:1:1 ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) classroom completed many holiday-themed craft projects in December including colorful Santa art, paper snowmen and gingerbread people, and a decorated classroom door (that was recognized as “Most Inspiring” in the annual Cosgrove Middle School contest). They even wrote letters to Santa, explaining which gifts they hoped to get for family members. Each craft assignment involved learning math and ELA concepts and life skills, like using numbers, counting down the days to Christmas, reading stories and writing, paying attention and answering questions, identifying different colors, and drawing.
The grand finale was a day spent creating a holiday workbook, with each page an introduction to a different country’s favorite winter holiday. For Mexico’s festival Las Posadas, students read a story about the holiday and then answered comprehension questions; they colored and cut out beautiful paper poinsettias to glue into their books. For Sweden, they drank hot chocolate to see if they liked it or if it was not their favorite thing. Mikulski and SBAs Nancy Montfort, Kim Spiller and Vicki Brew also guided their world travelers through Italy and France, helping them complete their workbooks with more drawings and colorful stickers.
After they “returned” from their world tour, students went holiday shopping! Using their Santa letters as a guide, they chose presents for their families from the Cosgrove Holiday Shoppe, stocked with items donated by BOCES 2 employees, classroom staff and their families and friends. Bags were proudly filled with mittens and socks for brothers or sisters, and necklaces for moms. It was a chance to practice the most important holiday lesson of all - thinking of others.