Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Advent Tea

Each year in my fourth grade, I divide my students into small groups. Each group is responsible to host the other students for an Advent Tea.
When I do Guided Reading, my students rotate through centers. Since they are big intermediate kids now, I call them Learning Zones. One of their Learning Zones each day is for planning their tea. I provide china cups, tea and sugar cubes, and an Advent candle ring for the actual event.
During Learning Zones, they peruse my ton of Christmas/Advent books with a planning sheet and decide on a song, scripture, prayer, snack and a craft. Each person on the team must play a part. I start this the week before Thanksgiving. I have a big class for my school- twenty-four this year, so they were in four groups of six each. Each afternoon, Monday through Thursday this week, we've enjoyed or will enjoy, an Advent Tea.
I am so very surprised by what nine year olds come up with. The three teas we've had so far have been completely different. These finger puppets pictured above cracked me up. They had a little puppet stage complete with manger. They had a light man spotlighting (flashlight) the action. So cute. We have enjoyed King cupcakes, Cross sugar cookies and Cloud desserts. We've made a star pencil topper, a glittery ornament and toilet paper roll shepherds and angels. The Candy Cane story has been told, as well as a reenactment of Gabriel with Mary, then Joseph. A piano solo of Little Drummer Boy and lots of carols have been sung. We've even played Pin the Halo on the Angel. Precious really.
Some come armed with tablecloths, holiday paper goods, bows, etc. Others are a bit more simple, but enjoyed all the same.
I do this for several reasons.
One- I'm allowed, and I'm going to seize the opportunity to celebrate my faith together with my students.
Two- It is a great opportunity for children to serve one another.
Three- It is a great opportunity for it to dawn on children how much effort goes into something that lasts less than an hour.
Four- It is a very nice way for us to spend our afternoons during a very hectic time of year.
Five- Children gain a great deal of confidence through these activities. It is no small thing to get up in front of your peers and sing, tell stories, instruct a craft, etc.
Six- Well, I'm not sure how great this is, but I sure end up with a lot of tea drinkers where previously there were none.
These kiddos have really impressed me this year.
The final piece of the project is to write a reflection on what they enjoyed, what went well and what they learned. I always feel much was learned, especially in life skills. It is a rewarding activity.

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