A back-to-school lesson that fosters community and teaches about Hawaii at the same time.
- Develop a peer relationship within the classroom
- Become comfortable with their surroundings and each other
- Construct a friendship lei
- Brainstorm and discuss classroom rules
- Establish classroom rules
- Welcome Back Lei printable
- Tissue paper
- String or yarn
- Whiteboard and markers
- Optional: Chart paper and markers
- Construct an example lei for class presentation using the directions from the Welcome Back Lei printable.
- Create a Hawaiian luau classroom setting. You can easily stimulate classroom excitement by providing some simple decorations purchased inexpensively or made at home.
Step 1: Determine students' prior knowledge of Hawaii. Start a class discussion with the word "aloha." Have students repeat the greeting. Discuss the word's meaning. In the Hawaiian language, it means hello, good-bye, and love. Discuss what students say good-bye to as they enter a new school year, and then discuss what they say hello to as well. Before moving on, ask students if they know that the abbreviation of Hawaii is "HI" and why that makes this state meaningful for the first day of school.
Step 2: Ask students questions about their experiences and knowledge of Hawaii, such as "Has anyone traveled to Hawaii?", "Has anyone ever made their own lei?", "Does anyone know the history of the lei?", "Does anyone know when Hawaii became a state?".
Step 3: Model how to construct a lei using the directions on the Welcome Back Lei printable. Explain that each color of tissue paper in the lei can represent something different, and then discuss and write on the board what each color represents for students. For example, if a student decides that the color red represents a favorite summer movie, he or she would write their favorite summer movie title on the corresponding tissue paper, so when they are asked about the meaning of red, they will be able to respond to their peers. This is a creative way for students to introduce themselves to the class.
Step 4: Encourage students to share the lei they created with the class.
Step 5: Engage students in a discussion of the process of creating a lei, comparing and contrasting their summer activities with their peers.
Step 6: Explain to students that, just as the lei is made with different flowers, seeds, or shells of different colors, sizes, and aromas, so is a classroom made up of different kinds of kids. Explain that you are each unique, different, and special in your own way. As you come together and are interwoven into one group, you are much like a lei that an artist makes from combining different flowers. The result is something better than each flower alone. In this classroom, you are stronger together. You are a team. An artist works with rules of design, and a team designs rules to become its best.
Step 7: With the theme of teamwork in mind, work with students to brainstorm classroom rules that meet your school's discipline policy. Have students suggest about five rules and record them on the whiteboard.
Step 8: Discuss the importance of each rule on a scale of one to five. As students begin to rank the rules, they will gain a sense of meaningful possession of each rule.
Note: Because students participated in making the classroom rules, they will be more likely to accept consequences when the rules are broken. You may want to consider creating classroom incentives for good behavior.
Step 9: After the rules are prioritized and agreed upon by all, write them on a sheet of chart paper, or type them up and print out a large copy, to post within the classroom.
Optional: Create anticipation about this lesson by explaining that Hawaii is not only our country's newest state, but it is also an incredibly unique state, composed entirely of islands, and home to not one, but five volcanoes. Encourage students to brainstorm things they want to know about Hawaii, or have them create a list of things they would want to see if they were to visit the state themselves.
Supporting All Learners
- Students can work at their own ability level. Students who struggle to complete the lei may work with a partner to make a partner lei.
- Invite ESL students to represent their native language with a color in their lei. Discuss how many different languages are spoken by the "team."
Encourage students to take their leis home and share their first day of school with their parents.
- Develop peer relationships
- Assess the importance of classroom rules
- Was there enough time to complete the lesson?
- What can be done differently to make the lesson more meaningful to students?
- What other methods could you use to introduce the classroom rules?
Assessment should be based on the completion of the lei and the participation in developing classroom rules.