As a way of incorporating the theme of Christmas into our curriculum our Grade 6 class decided to interview elders in the community about Christmas when they were growing up. As a class, we developed interview questions which covered such topics as traditions, decorations, foods, and gifts from their childhood years. Each student chose one Elder to interview, but as word of our project spread, other Elders wished to be interviewed as well, so some students had more than one person to interview! Students visited Elders in their homes to conduct their interviews, and some Elders visited the school to be interviewed.
After the interviews were complete the students and I planned a Christmas Tea where the Elders were invited to come and share their stories and memories with each other and the students. We decorated the Resource room of our school and made the "tea list". We decided to serve some of the foods that the Elders had mentioned as being special treats at Christmastime when they were growing up. When the Elders were arriving at the school, the students were waiting at the front doors to escort them to the "tea room". The local cable channel was on hand to videotape the entire event for broadcast on the community channel [Video not available] and to have as a future resource. Each student sat with the Elder they had interviewed, and once everyone arrived the Elders began sharing their memories and stories. Everyone was so excited and interested to hear what they had to say. When the tea was ready, the students served the Elders the "Tastes of Christmas" they had helped to prepare.
Prior to the Christmas Tea, the students had worked with the Mi'kmaq Teacher to prepare a Christmas ornament for their Elder. After the tea, each student presented their Elder with their ornament. We took a picture of each student and their Elder together by the Christmas tree. The next day, the students made Christmas cards for their Elders to thank them for attending our Christmas Tea and for sharing their knowledge and stories with us. They enclosed a picture of themselves with their Elder and the cards were delivered. As well, during our school Christmas concert, the Grade 6 class read excerpts of "Elder Christmas Memories" to the audience between class performances.
The students are now going to type all of the interviews and compile them into a book that will be used as a resource for the school and community, and be given to the Elders as a keepsake of our time together.
I feel that by participating in this project, my students have learned so much. Apart from the obvious academic benefits in Language Arts and Social Studies, the students also made connections with Elders in their community. They gave of themselves and showed true appreciation and interest when witnessing the Elders shaing their stories and memories of old. I feel that my students learned how truly valuable these stories and connections are and how much they can learn from the wisdom Elders possess. The students were very proud of themselves when they saw how much the Elders enjoyed their time together and appreciated the efforts of all the students.
Elder Interview Questions
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