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Cross-Curricular: Festivals & Cultural Celebrations

A question I often get is how I plan my topics and how I educate my children with their different ages/abilities. So this is a step-by-step guide to my planning process, complete with examples from our current topic: festivals & cultural celebrations, and an explanation on how I make it work for a ‘would be’ Year 1 child and a ‘would be’ Year 3 child.

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Step One: Pick a topic

This can be a topic of interest to your child, something that you would like them to learn about or something seasonal.

Our current topic is festivals & cultural celebrations but our main focus is Chinese New Year which will occur at the end of our 6 week learning ‘block’.

Step Two: Find your objective

This may be something your child wants to achieve at the end of the topic, either producing a piece of work, an experience or learning a new skill. The children both have a writing objective and a personal interest objective:

W will write a letter in the style of a character from the book we are studying and try his hand at a recipe for Chinese New Year. B will write a report on one of the zodiac animals and design a menu to suit it’s diet.

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Step Three: Research for each subject

If you follow a structured approach, you may have a list of subjects you want your child to learn each day. How easily can you cover your chosen topic within each subject? Are resources easy to find? How flexible are you willing to be?

W is ‘reading’ The Firework Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman for his English ‘lessons’. but haven’t been able to find a copy of the book in time due to the pandemic. Luckily there are plenty of videos available on YouTube of people reading each chapter. We will listen to the book being read and then pause it at relevant parts to answer comprehension questions or complete an activity.

Step Four: Write your plan

This should just be a rough overview, I personally try not to write a detailed plan for each day/week. Things change. We also use the Exploring Nature With Children curriculum, I was able to link the weekly topics with our learning topic. If I was too rigid with our week, we may not have been able to explore or do extension activities as the children requested. It’s important to remember we are facilitators to learning.

So when I write a plan,I will include the objective (if there is one), the main idea and any texts we may be using and keep it pretty open.

Here is an extract from my plan:

EnglishW: The Firework Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman (write a letter from one of the characters to another)
B: Write a non-chronological report on a zodiac animal (Science link)
Geography/HistoryLet’s Explore: China
ScienceAnimals including Humans [Twinkl resources]
Art/DTW: follow a recipe for Chinese New Year
B: design a menu for a zodiac animal
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What about their different ages/abilities?

We have a three day ‘working’ week from 10h00 to 13h30 (Mon – Wed) including a morning break and finishing in time for lunch. The children will then spend at least 3 hours every afternoon playing outside. Thursdays are spent at a co-op and the long weekend is for family time. The 9 hours total the children spend doing sit-down work, includes English, French, Maths, Science, Geography/History & the Arts.

A lot of our subjects cover the same topic but W may be expected to write a more detailed explanation or label a diagram whereas B can cut and stick or colour-in. I will try to balance other work out, so that one of them will be set an activity I know they can do independently while the other one is doing an activity that may require a lot of help from me.

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