Teaching students with significant cognitive disabilities about our national holidays can be both challenging and fun. It’s fun when the students have some basic understanding of the holiday, such as Thanksgiving, with the turkey and family gatherings, and the 4th of July with the picnics and fireworks. In these cases you have a basic framework to work with, making it easier to engage the students. They often have some remembrance of the celebration and perhaps many of the symbols that are associated with them (American flag, turkey, pumpkin, fireworks). With this scaffolding already in place, you may only need to teach one concept (for example “long ago”) to help the students get a more meaningful understanding of the holiday.
Other national holidays, such as Columbus Day and President’s Day are more difficult. How do you make ColumbusDay relevant to students who have no concept of the distant past, let alone perhaps a year ago? How do you explain sailing ships, “discovering” America or Native Americans? In my National Holidays unit (available to members), concepts are broken down into their simplest form and with the use of visuals and repetition students make connections and gain understanding.
Want FREE visuals to supplement your Columbus Day instruction? All you have to do is sign up for the enable2learn newsletter (which gives updates on new material that is added to the website, teaching tips and more), and I will also include October clipart perfect for your October calendar.