I am thrilled to introduce you to this week’s guest blogger: Sarah! She hails from my home state, Michigan, and is currently teaching at an international school in Valencia, Spain. After reading this post, I want to apply to teach in Spain immediately and enjoy Las Fallas. Is there an opening at your school Sarah?!
Living in Valencia, Spain in early springtime is exciting. The weather starts to change, restaurant terraces are open, orange trees start to blossom and there is a lingering scent of Las Fallas in the air. Hard to believe a holiday has a scent but this one does! Not most people outside of Spain or Europe know about this holiday but let me tell you, it’s a big deal. As an annual celebration, only in the Valencian province, beginning March 12th until March 19th, Las Fallas honors the carpenter Saint Joseph. For people who live and work in the city, it’s a holiday that you either love or hate. But for a schoolteacher who works in Valencia, it’s a holiday you have to recognize.
This is my second year working at a private school here in Valencia and as part of the curriculum; we study Las Fallas. We study it in Spanish, Music, and Art. Think about the last one: Art. That’s right. As part of the celebration in the school, every class must make a small “falla” based on the year’s theme. Now, being a first-second grade teacher, this is a complicated task (It would be for any year group!), but I’m lucky enough to have the little ones of the school so my falla planning has to be well thought-out and organized.
For the year’s theme, we choose languages and countries. At my school the children study five different languages – FIVE! So we teachers thought it would be a good idea to have the children learn more about the countries, rather than just the languages. Every year group was assigned a different country and told to construct a monument, landmark, or something large-scaled, that could represent the country.
My year group was lucky enough to have the United States (helped me in terms of planning!) but we also have teachers from Australia, England, China, Spain and France at the school. As I said, every year group took a country and designed a falla to contribute. You can use whatever materials you want, cardboard, paper-mache, wood, paper, ect., the only requisite is that it needs to be big.
With my kids and the United States, I decided to do a California theme. I have three classes at this school and with the three classes I decided to have them build something together to contribute and make a big California falla. One class took San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, I assigned another class the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, and finally I gave one class the beaches of Southern California (think San Diego). It’s taken us nearly 5 weeks to make these large-scale models but it’s been really fun and enlightening!
Art can be amazing with little ones. I use to dread art classes with them because I thought they weren’t capable of doing such great things, but I’m wrong. They’re so eager to help you set things up, prepare things, try new ideas, they don’t really mind if the project doesn’t turn out exactly how you wanted it to be. Although it might be overwhelming to work with twenty seven-year olds at one time to make a huge installation, it’s definitely worth it if you are well-organized and have all the right materials. After Fallas, I’m thinking about doing some big art installations to make to decorate the classroom. They just love collaborating making things together, which is a theme I never stop talking about in class. It’s something they can all be proud of when the product is finished and can look at it and say, “I made part of that!” I’ll tell you, it’s quite impressive to see what these little ones can do together when they’re excited about something!