Local and Family Customs

Encourage your students to convince their keypals to "visit" your area using persuasive writing techniques. They must write a convincing essay about their city/town and give details to support their argument. You might want to require the students to find online sources of information as well as printed materials. Teach the students to document their sources and give credit for the ideas of others.

Sharing Cultural Richness

Local Flavor

Many neighborhoods and towns have customs for various times of the year. Where we live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland you will find Native American Pow Wows, Punkin Chunkin events, Pony Penning in July, a haunted house near Halloween and much more.

Our state of Maryland has a webpage just for kids with links all about Maryland. There is also a link to other state websites designed just for kids.

In school there are pep rallies for sports teams, Jump Rope for Heart events, Field Day, bicycle rodeos, and more.

Family Customs and Traditions

What customs do families in your area celebrate? Are there special religious traditions that you and your students can share with online friends? How are the holidays during the year celebrated by the families in your class? Encourage the students to describe and share the richness of their cultural heritage with each other.

  • When and how are babies named? In all countries babies are not named immediately at birth.
  • How are birthdays celebrated?
  • Is there a tooth fairy for the very young?
  • Is there a "coming of age" day in your culture such as the Japanese have?
  • Are there traditional recipes that your family eats on certain holidays such as oyster stew on Christmas? My mother always makes mushroom soup on Christmas Eve. Is this a cultural tradition of the Polish? I must ask her.
  • In the UK the father of the house must enter the house first on New Year's Eve.
  • Do your students know what "red pocket" is in China?
  • Do you and your students and their keypals make New Year's resolutions? Share them with each other. How will the students try to keep these resolutions? Will they make charts or reminders?
  • Are there traditions that are special for weddings where you live?
  • Are there any tales and sagas about your area? Share them with your online friends.
  • What musical instruments are popular where you live?
  • What oral traditions or family stories that have been handed down in your students' families?
  • Are there any family mementos that your students have that they would like to tell their keypal about?
Visit these websites to see more about customs and traditions:
  1. Polish Customs
  2. The Lithuanians

Who am I?

Suggest that your students and their keypals write poems about themselves. Here are samples to give them ideas:

  1. "I Am From..." poems from the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia
  2. "I Am" poems - from Angie's Electronic Classroom
  3. Lineage Poems - from MindSPACE and Lynne Sueoka

Sample "I Am" poem

The first line of each poem begins with "I" followed by a verb. Follow the pattern with your students for this type of "I Am" poem. Give your students a copy of this poem or any other that you like. Ask your students to tell you the main idea of this poem. What do we learn about Autumn? What is most important to her in her life at this time?

I Am

I am a curious girl who loves soccer.
I wonder how computers are run.
I hear the crowd cheering as I score a goal.
I see me in the World Cup.
I want to be famous.
I am a curious girl who loves soccer.

I pretend that I'm a famous soccer player.
I feel the ball coming to my feet.
I touch the soccer ball.
I worry that in the year 2000 the lights will go out.
I cry when the other team scores a goal on us.
I am a curious girl who loves soccer.

I understand that I won't always score goals.
I say I will always play soccer.
I dream I will be a soccer star.
I try to score goals.
I hope I will always play soccer.
I am a curious girl who loves soccer.


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Patti Weeg
April 17, 2004