Second graders have trouble with the grand scheme of things and mostly focus on what's of immediate relevance to themselves. Sometimes I try to explain the grand scheme of things, but it doesn't always work. Take today's holiday, Memorial Day. One year I was trying to explain the reason we celebrate Memorial Day. "What is Memorial Day?" asked Joelle. "Well," I said. "It's a day to remember people who have died in a war." This didn't really fit with Joelle's understanding of the day off.
"But....it's when the pool opens."
After walking around DC today in near 90 degree heat and swampy humidity, I can't blame Joelle for thinking that today has been set aside specially and schools and businesses closed so that we can fully celebrate the opening of the local pool.
This year, my students' understanding wasn't any better. Upon learning that school would be closed Monday because of Memorial Day, Drew exclaimed, "Yes! Because it snowed!" Mr. Halpern at Look at My Happy Rainbow didn't have much better luck explaining the holiday to his kindergarteners.
Any bigger meaning of holidays is frequently lost on kids--or at least misplaced. DeAngelo one year referred to that holiday in late December as "Santa Day" and Byron once explained to the class that the Fourth of July is when the Earth was created.
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