What Are Traditions?

Students begin an investigation of traditions, learning that they can be simple or complex, and can vary among families. They read the picture book Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold, and share their own family traditions.

Reading About Traditions

Students read an article, with guidance and support, to learn more about traditions. They preview the text first to identify familiar words and make inferences about the images, then read the text. Students use key details, images, and vocabulary to identify evidence of examples of traditions.

Connecting Traditions to Our Senses

Students read and analyze Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco to learn more about traditions and how we remember and describe them. They identify sensory words and phrases in the story, and then use sensory words to describe a personal tradition. This lesson supports students in making connections about experiences and senses through text and illustration.

Traditions Connect Us to Special Things

Students explore how different kinds of family traditions can keep us connected to past generations and events. They read The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco and watch a short video in which the author speaks about the real keeping quilt in her family, and consider how traditions in their own lives connect them to history.

Holidays and Traditions

With guidance and support, students identify and classify evidence in a text in order to investigate holidays and the role of traditions. They read an informational text to identify “when,” “why,” and “how” evidence about Independence Day, compare their evidence with information about holidays in general, and describe a holiday of their choice.

Food Traditions

Students explore how family traditions can help us stay connected to, better understand, and appreciate our unique families, cultures, and communities. They read Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet S. Wong, in which the main character thinks her parents don’t understand an American holiday, but ends up learning a surprising lesson herself.

Holidays and Traditions (Checkpoint Assessment)

Through this Essential Question, students have explored and appreciated different types of traditions, and how they connect us to people, places, and the past. This final lesson may be used as a checkpoint assessment of cumulative learning throughout this Essential Question. Here, students reflect upon their learning to explain why traditions are important. They each create a “My Tradition” design, inspired by Faith Ringgold’s story quilts, that describes a tradition and explains why it is important.

Families Near and Far

Essential Question

Why are traditions important?

Students explore a variety of family traditions, and then develop an inclusive definition of “tradition." They reflect upon and appreciate their own unique family traditions and explore how traditions connect us to family, both past and present.



4422 N Ravenswood Ave

Chicago, IL 60640