Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Culture Flags

Our fourth grade curriculum, in part, is focused on culture.  We begin the year with "What's Your Culture?," a mini unit.  Then we move forward to the study of Native American culture, Immigration and Family History, and finally our study of endangered species and adaptation include studies of cultural patterns and traditions that impact endangered species.

The Culture Flag activity is a chance for children to proudly display their culture related to this definition of culture:  Anthropologists study culture.  Culture is the study of the materials, social groups, beliefs, and arts of groups of people.  No two people share exactly the same culture because people belong to many different groups possibly including school, religion, club, team, country of origin, ancestry, neighborhood, city/town, state, country, continent, hemisphere and more.

I begin the lesson by reading People by Peter Spier to awaken their minds to the great diversity of people and cultures that inhabit Earth.  Then I hand out a definition sheet (see below) and we discuss the definition of culture and create an anchor chart of events, objects and experiences related to culture categories:  beliefs, traditions, ceremonies, hobbies/recreation, customs, community, symbols, language, arts, celebrations, heroes, food/clothing/shelter, values and family.

Then, the fun part, creating our flags.  I model the assignment with my own culture flag (see below). Then, students choose a triangular piece of colored paper. I give them a categories sheet (see below) so they can cut out the categories they want to represent on their flag.  After that students use photos, magazine cut-outs and other images to decorate their flag.  It may be a good idea to have students bring in a baggie of images and words related to their culture prior to the flag activity. We hang up the flags in the classroom to proudly display our varied, dynamic collective class culture.

This is a simple activity that creates a broad lens for students' understanding, respect and acceptance of each others' cultures, and the cultures we will learn about throughout the year.  I'm interested in learning about the ways you teach culture in your school--what activities and units support optimal education in this realm?  I look forward to reading about your ideas as well as the feedback you have for me related to this activity.

Related Lessons:
What's Your Culture: The History of Skin Shade
The Museum Project