Lesson Ideas for Using BrainPOP to Teach About Holidays

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, K-3

BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. offer lots of seasonal movie topic pages. Here are some ideas for using Brainpop to teach about holidays:

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Have students generate and answer their own FYI questions related to a particular holiday. As a class, read the FYI questions on the holiday's movie topic page. Ask students to suggest additional questions about the holiday that were not answered in the movie or on the FYI page. Students can work collaboratively to choose one question to research as a group. Have them share their findings in a class Google Doc or blog post which uses the same format as BrainPOP's FYI. Have students read the responses that other groups composed and facilitate a discussion around them.
  2. Debunk holiday myths. Talk about stereotypes or common misunderstandings surrounding a holiday or its culture of origin. Have students work independently, in pairs, or in small groups to prove that these commonly held beliefs are either true or false (similar to the way the Snopes website works.) Their role will be to research each belief and gather evidence to show that it is either a fact or a myth. Provide time in class or at home for students to conduct their research, and help students identify reliable resources. After they have conducted their research, challenge students to debunk each myth or prove that it's true. They may want to write Snopes-style articles, or a mock advice column in which fictional students write in to ask questions related to the myths. This could be either a paper-based project or a project that is completed entirely online. Display students' work and allow students to read and comment on one another's articles.
  3. Keep year-long holiday journals. Staple together the activity pages from holiday movie topics throughout the year to create booklets for your students, or provide blank (or seasonally-themed) writing paper. Each month, watch the relevant holiday and seasonal movies together, and have students reflect on them in their journals. You may want to have students respond to an essential question as it relates to each holiday (for example, How are holiday beliefs and practices of various cultures are related to time, location, and events?) Encourage students to read back over their journals throughout the year to see how their writing has progressed. Send the journals home at the end of the school year as a keepsake.
  4. Compare and contrast holidays from various seasons and explore their connection to seasonal occurrences. What are the historical reasons behind the dates we celebrate holidays? Which holidays are tied closely to seasonal events? Why? How are the activities, symbols, and traditional color schemes different in winter holidays than in other holidays in the fall, spring, and summer? Use the graphic organizers (such as the Venn Diagram) from BrainPOP Educators to help students record and organize their thoughts.
  5. Explore how various cultures express their beliefs and way of thinking through holiday celebrations. As you study each holiday, mark the country or countries of origin on a physical or virtual map. Encourage students to reflect on how and why holidays are celebrated in different cultures. Are there common themes and ideas that connect certain holidays or celebration rituals together? How have celebrations changed as various cultures interact and exchange ideas with one another?