Activities That Work /
B. Holidays

Synopsis prepared by Lee Risley

Back to Table of Contents:
B. Holidays.
1. Dia de los Muertos.
2. Sainte Catherine.
3. Holidays. (Others and in general)

1. Dia de los Muertos.

95/10 From -> Stephanie Campbell <>
Subject: Dia de los muertos activities that I hope will work

Drawing from a variety of sources and a few variations I thought of,
here are some of the things I am planning to do this week as I teach
about el dia de los muertos for the first time (high school, Spanish 2):

1. There is a fenced area adjacent to our school library in which we
will create a cemetery. Students will each make a lapida (gravestone)
out of either a white "shirtbox" or a shoebox (covered with white or
grey paper).

The gravestone can commemorate either a dead person from their family, a
dead historical figure, or, the students themselves! One side will say
"Descanse en paz", the person's name, dates of birth and death
(preterito practice: nacio en..., murio en...). Of course if the
students make their own lapida, the year of death could be, say, 2063.
The other side will say "Aqui yace (name)" and list 5 things (more
preterito practice) the person did in their life. Of course, if the
students do their own gravestones, they could list all the wonderful
accomplishments they intend to achieve in their life. "Gano el premio
nobel de la paz en 2020." My intention at this writing is to set up the
graveyard on Oct. 31, so the rest of the school can enjoy it as a sort
of Halloween decoration. How exactly to get the cardboard box
gravestones to stand up? I think if I nail them into the ground with
four long nails from the inside of the box and THEN put the tops on the
boxes, that might work. The writing would have to be done in permanent
marker so it doesn't run from the dew overnight. Then on Nov. 2, we will
go to our graveyard and bring apples, oranges, nuts, candles, etc. and
sit there for a while. Students will be allowed to visit other students
and ask them about the person they are remembering.

2. Students will make calacas (comic skeleton figures) out of pipe
cleaners and can dress them up or use little props (like toy musical
instruments). I was thinking of having them use decorated hollow
eggshells as calaveras (skulls).

3. This would be preceded by an explanation of el dia de los muertos and
pictures of some of the traditional images that go along with it
(altares, calacas, sugar skulls, etc.)

We'll see how it goes.
Stephanie Campbell

2. Sainte Catherine.

95/11 From-> Kathy Lennox <>
Subject: Re: French activities

Every year at our elementary school, we hold a Ste-Catherine for the
school. It's like a playday with a cultural twist. All students
participate in 13 indoor and outdoor events, which are run by senior
students and teachers. Basically we use a simple activity and give it a
French name: balancing on a bench becomes "Les Raftsmen", tug-of-war
becomes "Scieurs du Bois" , etc. Taffy-making, or "La Tire" is messy but
fun. At lunchtime, crockpots of pea soup made at home or in primary
classes are available for everyone to sample. The complete list of
events is in my school file and I'll post it to you a.s.a.p. This will
be our fifth year running the day, and it's always a great time for

Kathy Lennox
Ajax, Ont.

>Anyone have a tried and true idea to celebrate La Ste Catherine??? We're trying
>to get French Honor Society or club to sponsor a fun activity for all French
>students... a hat contest? All ideas welcome... Any Francophone customs/ activities
>in mind? Merci.


95/11 From-> "Catherine. Bass" <>
Subject: Re: French activities

In my village in France, and this is probably an old Lorraine custom
unheard of in the rest of the Hexagone, we used to celebrate the Ste
Catherine by getting "boys and girls together". The "conscrits" of that
year, wrote up 2 lists of names: one list with the names of all the
single and non-married women (fiancées included) and one list with the
names of all of the single, non-married men. Then, the "conscrits" went
up on a hill with a trumpet, and announced randomly-selected couples.
(If you wanted someone in particular, you could bribe them though.... so
I was told). Of course, the whole village was waiting anxiously to hear
who was matched with who! It was all done in good humor. Then, the guys
had to to buy flowers and a box of chocolate for the girls, and each had
to go that evening to the girl's place and ask the parents for
permission to take their daughter out. Then, there was a big "bal"/party
with all the different couples.


You could use the Ste Catherine occasion to organize a fashion show in
which students will be able to earn a prize depending on the originality
of their hats.

I'm sure there must be a lot of texts, songs etc about hats too There's
the song about the Bretons:

Ils ont des chapeaux ronds, vive la Bretagne ils ont des chapeaux ronds,
vives les Bretons!

(can't remember if there's more to it....)

If you'd like me to, I'll check my tapes of French songs for kids, there
might be something about hats in there.

Catherine Bass

PS: how about translating the cat in the hat!


95/11 From-> Kathy Lennox <>
Subject: La Ste-Catherine activity

Each year on November 25 or thereabouts we hold a St. Catherine's Day at
our school.  It consists of an activity day for all students in our elementary
school who are grouped into 26 teams for the day.

The St. Catherine activities are:


1. Scieurs du bois (tug of war). While tugging, the teams chant "Scions
du jambon pour la mère Nicolas qui prépare du chocolat".

2. Les raftsmen: An obstacle course featuring a bench on which
contestants must balance, recalling the logrollers and river travellers
of days gone by.

3. Course à la pomme: Relay race with an apple on a spoon.

4. Vol d'outards: Each team constructs a paper airplane and flies it.
Winning points go to the longest flight.

5. Portage: Piggyback race (match senior students with younger ones).


6. Folkdancing: Teams prepare and perform a folkdance to selected French
Canadian folk music.

7. Loto: Bingo in French.

8. Storytelling: Teams tell the story of St. Catherine or of St.
Marguerite Bourgeoys, a Canadian saint who is also celebrated on Nov.

9. Tableau vivant: Teams choose a scene from St. Catherine or St.
Marguerite Bourgeoys and create a "statues" scene.

10. La tire: I run this event myself. I spend the day making 13 batches
of taffy to be pulled by the teams. The taffy comes from the story of
St. Marguerite Bourgeoys getting children to come to her first school by
offering taffy. Points are awarded for the resulting colour and shine of
the taffy. This one is messy but the kids love it. I have the taffy
rolled and wrapped by volunteers and the children each get a piece to
try at the end of the day. One year the stove didn't work so I
substituted plasticine and had them make models and sculptures.

11. Chapeau: Paper hat making. The winners, chosen from among all the
teams, wear their hats in a parade at the end of the day, recalling the
old French tradition of the "Catherinettes" (unmarried females over 25
years of age) wearing their finest hats that day. We decorate paper
plates with fabric, paper and ribbon scraps.

12. Chaises musicales: An old favourite, musical chairs.

13. Rest station.

At lunch time, pea soup is served to all students who remembered to
bring their mug and spoon. Last year, the primary classes made the soup,
and we usually have 5 or 6 pots made by members of our parents'
committee. It's fun to see the many different ways this soup is
prepared: creamy, chunky, yellow, green, brown... There is never any
left by the end of the day. Pea soup is a traditional French Canadian

We started celebrating "La Ste-Catherine" as an alternative to the
winter carnival, because we can never count on enough snow in Ajax, Ont.
for the outdoor events. Points are awarded in each event and are
accumulated throughout the day. The first place team members take turns
bringing the St. Catherine trophy home, and the top three teams are
presented with ribbons and certificates. Everyone gets some taffy to
take home.

Kathy Lennox

3. Holidays. (Others and in general)

95/10 From -> April Woods <>
Subject: Re: Holiday activities

I teach French 9-12. For Easter, I had a Easter Egg Hunt "Faire de la
Chasse". I printed certificates in French for the students. The students
had to buy them. They earn Francs by getting the highest score on a
quiz, having homework on time, doing extra activities (preparing
bulletin boards), listening to tapes at home, etc... Of course some
students didn't have enough money, but the condition of the hunt was
that every person was to have a certificate. That meant sharing. Also
every person had to "find" at least one egg. Group work at its best. In
the eggs were numbers. When we came back, the students opened their eggs
and told me their numbers. I listed the numbers on the board and put a
vocabulary word by the number. The vocabulary word was their "prize". I
had candy, paddle and ball, nerf footballs, toothbrushes, gum, and One
golden egg they were all looking for. Its prize was <un panier>. It was
an Easter basket with some candy and toys; it (the Easter basket) costs
about $2.. The other prizes for about 35 students cost about $20. I used
my budget. The kids are now in French II, are asking for it again.

April Woods


96/03 From-> Susan George
Re: Cinco de mayo

I'm glad that you responded. I have studied many summers in Puebla, and
still go back to visit friends there, and I had the distinct impression
that the 5 de mayo was indeed a momentous occasion, but didn't have
anything concrete (books, etc) to back it up.

I'm sure you realize however, that in the USA it is blown out of
proportion, and is just another day for Taco Tico (and the other
"mexican" food chains) and the beer companies to have promotions and
sales. for many Hispanics here, at the same time, its a day to reaffirm
La Raza and celebrate as a community.

saludos a todos de Puebla!

Susan George


97/11 From-> Irene Moon <>
Organization: Wadsworth Senior High School
Subject: Vampiro Activity

While this may be a "tad" late, perhaps you can use it next year or as a
quickie 2-3 day mini unit to lighten a transition to another instructional unit.

One of our listeros posted the article "En Defensa de losVampiros" and I
will copy it below for your convenience. I added some graphics and
questions to the original article which we used for communicative
activities, discussion. (Students were given the 2 sheet handout as HW).
After we discussed the article, I had the kids count off by 3's, not
telling them, of course, what they were about to do. Then I moved them
into rows.. all the ones, the twos etc. together.

Next, I told all the 1's they were the Vampiros, who would tell a little
about themselves, where they originate, what they're protesting etc.;
the 2's were to conduct an Entrevista, but devloping questions only on
la comida y habitos de los Vampiros (several paragraphs in beginning of
article); 3's were to write/ask questions about their crueldad and
protesta de las peliculas de Hollywood. I gave them 5-7 mins. to do this
individually in class.

I then asked each Vampiro to tell a bit about themselves; next the
questions began and those conducting the interviews could direct their
questions to any of the wound up that many Vampiros had to
think on their feet with such questions as.....

Si vives por siempre, por que es necesario comer/beber sangre?
.........respuestas: para mantener la vida eterna, por que me gusta etc.

Como prefieres tus victimas? hombre? mujer? gordo? flaco?
........solamente chicas. No me gustan los gordos porque hay demasiado
colesterol en su sangre

Que es el sabor de sangre?
.......respuestas: muy salada, sabor de fresa

Que es la pelicula favorita de tu vida?
......Entrevista con el Vampiro

Believe me, it was lots of fun and kids were enthusiastic. It was better
than I had know. one of those times when an academic task
gets "funer" than you guessed it might. This would be very enjoyable to
do as an intro or part of a mini unit on humor. We're reading it as an
intro to the Imbert short stories I posted to FLTEACH.

Irene Moon.....see below

En Defensa de los Vampiros

     Soy un vampiro.  Durante el día, duermo en una tumba.
La tumba está en un castillo en Transilvania.  Transilvania
es un país en Europa.  Es un país bonito con mucha historia.

     Muchas personas piensan que los vampiros somos
monstruos.  No es verdad.  Somos aristocráticos y muy
elegantes. Por ejemplo, nuestra ropa es de color negra,
siempre muy correcta.  No usamos ropa de otro color, sólo
     Nuestra comida?  No comemos hamburguesas, ni pollo
frito, ni papas fritas.  Qué comida más horrible!  No tiene
vitaminas. Nosotros bebemos la sangre de nuestras víctimas.
     La sangre es muy nutritiva.  Por esta razón vivimos
muchísimos años.  Y por eso tenemos dientes largos, fuertes
y blancos. Nunca tenemos que visitar al dentista.
     La sangre tiene muchas vitaminas.  Por eso tenemos ojos
que ven en la obscuridad.  Vemos perfectamente bien en la
obscuridad de la noche.  Nunca salimos de día; sólo salimos
de noche.
     La sangre no tiene muchas calorías.  Es obvio.  Los
vampiros no somos gordos, ¿verdad?  Somos siempre flacos.
No tenemos que estar a dieta.
     Pero los vampiros tienen mala fama.  ¡Qué injusto!
Dicen que somos feos.  ¡Qué absurdo! Somos muy atractivos.
Siempre estamos divinamente pálidos porque nunca estamos al
sol.  Yo nunca salgo al sol.  Sólo salgo cuando está
obscuro, o salgo a la luz de la luna.  Prefiero la luna
     Dicen que somos crueles.  No es verdad. Mis víctimas
nunca sufren.  Cuando visito a mis víctimas, ellos salen por
la noche y me llaman.  Además, mis víctimas reciben vida
eterna.  ¿No es maravilloso vivir para siempre?
     Muchas personas de California, en los Estados Unidos de
América, vienen a Transilvania.  California es el estado en
los Estados Unidos donde filman las películas.  La ciudad
donde filman las películas se llama Hollywood.  Los
norteamericanos vienen a nuestro país a filmar películas de
terror.  Filman las películas en los castillos antiguos y
abandonados.  Pero nunca invitan a los vampiros verdaderos a
actuar en las películas.  Y en las películas siempre hablan
mal de nosotros.  Siempre somos los
     ¿Por qué hablan mal de los vampiros?  Mi vida es
solitaria pero aristocrática.  ?Por qué tenemos tan mala
fama?  ¡No es justo, y yo protesto!

As you answer these questions, BE CERTAIN to put it in YOUR
OWN words, not those of the cuento.

1.  Que hacen los vampiros durante el dia?

2.  Por que no son monstruos?

3.  Como es la dieta del vampiro? (Favor de explicar en detalle.)

5.  Segun (according to) al vampiro no son crueles…..

4.  razones porque no son crueles:

6.  Que protesta este vampiro?

7.  Crees en los vampiros?    Por que si?   Por que no?

8.  Por que es comico este ensayo?


97/11 From-> Irene Moon <>
Organization: Wadsworth Senior High School Subject: Imbert Activity

We are just finishing a little mini unit on cuentos de fantasia &
related halloween themes.
Yesterday we did the two embryonic stories I posted to the list called
Tabu and La Arana.
The effect was were left looking like Cheshire
cats...just like Imbert probably hoped.

We discussed the questions I included in the post and when I got to the
last one, I changed it and asked them if any of them had animalitos
cuando eran ninos y si...hablaban con ellos. They were very eager to
share stories of their favorite stuffed toys.

On FLTEACH I mentioned that I bought a bunch of the cheapie beanie baby
clones when they were being sold off and they had been bagged, just
waiting their turn to make an appearance in class. Well, this. p.m. I
had the idea to take them to class on Monday and will let each pair.
reach into the bag and pull out an animalito. Then they'll write an
embryonic story, similar to the Arana, but based on their animalito. I
may have enough that pairs might be able to choose 2.

Just thought I share are intrigued; they know that Mon. is
going to be Animalito Day, but they think that I'm bringing my

Irene Moon

Back to Activities That Work Table of Contents


Return to  [FLTEACH Main Page]


W3 page maintained by address & address
Copyright © 1998 Jean W. LeLoup & Robert Ponterio