Resources – whether new links or tried-and-true ideas for working with learners – are a regular part of the discussion at Metro meetings. Since today is Hallowe’en, let me share a personal story and remind you how important story telling in general is in a classroom.
Imagine someone arriving in the midst of the hooplah that is Hallowe’en week. While immensely popular in North America it is not a universal holiday and also has some significant opposition from some Christian groups. In case you are unclear, this short video outlines the history of this day on our calendar.
So if your new learners have come from an area where this celebration is unknown or, worse yet, a place where the popular images of ghouls, skeletons and zombies are much too reminiscent of frightening images of war and destruction, how did you help them look on the happier ‘trick or treat’ side of the day?
Knowing our learners and helping them build the bridge to a new language and culture is critical or a child can react quite negatively as exemplified in the picture book by Robert Munsch. It tells Soussan’s true story when she first encountered a Hallowe’en skeleton at school.
Telling the group a story about Hallowe’en – whether personal or a picture book of your choice – or helping learners share their first impressions of Hallowe’en, can be a great way to make the new ones more comfortable with this eventful day.
The story in a nutshell: A couple of decades ago, when Hallowe’en was not the huge spectacle it is today and was known in few countries and celebrated in even fewer, a 9-year-old arrived in Vancouver on a sunny, warm day. She had been in transit as an unaccompanied minor for nearly 24 hours, thanks to storm delays,rerouting and poor connections. Her adventures included spending hours at airports, almost deplaning in the wrong city and arriving at the Vancouver Airport to find her mother NOT awaiting her – again due to complications of the various delays and rescheduling.
Reunited with her mother and only a couple of hours later, she was ‘costumed’ in whatever was at hand, handed a pillow case and taken by the hand to go Trick-or-Treating. Had she landed in a strange new land? Yes ! Was it scary? Definitely! Did she relish being given all this candy? You bet! In fact she dumped the candy on the carpet and in typically age-appropriate fashion, organized everything into neat categories. Then she lay down and fell asleep next to her hoard.
Yes, that was my own arrival in Canada. I love to tell this story of arriving on October 31st. Of course I embellish and talk about details as may be age and linguistically appropriate for the particular learner group. What story do you have or what writing project can be the result of discussion and story sharing about ‘unexpected’ events?
To finish off this day, have a look at CBC’s photos of Hallowe’en around the world.