Be My Valentine



February 14 is Valentine’s Day – a day of romance and friendship. People often give gifts  like flowers, chocolate and Valentine cards  to those they love.  A bouquet of roses, especially red roses,  is a very popular gift on this day.

On this day, we sometimes hear some interesting expressions about love  – here are a few:

I’m head over heels in love.

I think we are made for each other.

My heart is in your hands.

I have a crush on you.

What do you think they mean?  Write a comment with your ideas.

To learn more about Valentine’s day click on this EL Civics lesson .

On Valentine’s day, love is in the air and as you can see in this video, everyone seems to be in love . Try to name some of these couples.

Love is in the Air

Friday, February 14th, 2014 is Valentine’s Day. It’s a day we think about the people we care about in our lives – both friends and romantic loves.  People exchange “Valentines” ( notes expressing friendship and love) ,and gifts ( especially chocolates,  flowers and jewelry).  Most of all, people just take the time in their busy lives to say ” I love you” or  ” I like you” to  others.

Click on this El Civics lesson to learn more about the holiday =>  Valentine’s Day.

Here are some words / espressions we hear around Valentine’s Day.  Do you know what they mean? Talk to your classmates and see if you can make a sentence using these words.

  • “Be my Valentine”
  • candy
  • perfume /cologne
  • cupid
  • bow and arrow
  • roses
  • “Be mine”
  • jewelry
  • candlelight dinner
  • friendship
  • romance

What would Valentine’s day be without love songs? Listen and sing along to these songs . The first is one that Monica showed to her Level 1 /2 class



This is a favorite classic ” Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”


What’s you favorite romantic song?



What’s Groundhog Day?

Groundhog Day is celebrated in North America every year on February 2nd and began with Pennsylvania’s early settlers. There is a legend that on this day a  animal that is called a groundhog can predict whether an early spring will come or whether winter will stay on longer.  Remember that predict means that you guess what will happen (often in the future).

The groundhog is a small animal that digs and lives under the ground. It is also called a woodchuck. In the winter they hibernate ( sleep) like bears and some other animals. According to the legend, the groundhog comes out of his hole on this day after his winter hibernation to look for his shadow. If it’s a sunny day and he sees his shadow, this predicts six more weeks of bad weather. If the day is overcast and he doesn’t see his shadow, this predicts an early spring is coming.

The official groundhog lives in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. His name is Punxsutawney Phil. On February 2, Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob – in front of thousands of followers from all over the world – to predict the weather for the rest of season.

I’m ready for spring… aren’t you??? Let’s hope Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t see his shadow!

 Learn about Groundhog day by looking at these links

Now can you answer these questions?

1. Groundhog day is February _____

a. 2nd

b. 12th

c. 22nd

2. The groundhog hibernates (sleeps) during

a. summer


c. winter

3. When the groundhog comes out of its hole after winter hibernation, it looks for its

a. mother

b. shadow

c. fans

4. If  the groundhog sees its shadow (the sun is shining)

a. there will be six more weeks of winter

b. there will be an early spring

c. it will be frightened and run back into its hole

Martin Luther King Jr Day – Make It a Day On, Not a Day Off

On Monday, January 20th (the third Monday of January)  we observe Martin Luther King Jr Day – a legal holiday that honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He was  a Baptist minister and a main leader of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s..  In the 1960’s African Americans experienced racial discrimination in many parts of America but especially in the South.  African Americans often were not allowed to vote, to go to the same schools as white students or to do many ordinary day to day activities  ( like sit in the front of a bus or eat at the same places white Americans ate). Many jobs were denied to them or they were paid much lower than a white American doing the same job.

The civil rights movement  successfully protested laws and customs that allowed discrimination based on color. It was a long, hard and often dangerous fight by regular citizens to overturn these laws and change the minds and hearts of Americans.  Mr King was a gifted speaker  and organizer who inspired many Americans to challenge the segregation laws by non violent  protests. One of his most famous speeches was “I Have a Dream” given during a historic civil rights march in Washington, D.C in 1963.  

He worked hard to make people understand that black people should always be treated equally to white people. He gave speeches and led rallies to encourage African Americans to protest without the need for violence.

One peaceful strategy was for African Americans to have sit-ins. This is where they would sit in a restaurant seat that was supposed to be only for white people. They would politely ask for some food and refuse to leave until someone gave them food. Another strategy that King used was leading boycotts. This is where people would refuse to buy goods or services from people who did not treat white people and black people the same

In 1964, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The year 1964 was also when the Civil Rights Act was passed. This act banned many kinds of discrimination against black people. King then moved on to a bill that would make sure that black Americans would be allowed to vote. This led to the 1965 Voting Rights Act. It made it against the law to stop somebody from voting because of their race.

King had clearly made enemies in his rise to fame.  On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing outside his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was preparing to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.

To learn more about Martin Luther King Jr see this El Civics lesson.

This video shows us some of key changes that Martin Luther King helped make in this country

Many people honor Mr King’s memory by making the holiday a Day of Service to our nation and communities.  They seek to change society for the better one person at a time.  They encourage us to think of this day not as a day off but to make it a “day on” by volunteering for a social project .


This week, Americans will celebrate a truly American holiday – Thanksgiving. This short video explains the history of Thanksgiving:

To learn more about Thanksgiving, search the internet for answers to these questions!

  1. In what year did the Pilgrims celebrate the first Thanksgiving? Where did they celebrate? Why did they have this celebration?
  2. Approximately how many people attended the first Thanksgiving? What groups of people were represented?
  3. Who issued the proclamation making Thanksgiving an annual national holiday? When? Who led the campaign to make it official?
  4. On what day each year is Thanksgiving celebrated in the United States?
  5. Name three popular ways to serve leftover turkey.
  6. How long did the first Thanksgiving celebration last?
  7. Name 10 foods thought to have been eaten at the first Thanksgiving and 5 traditional Thanksgiving foods that were probably not eaten.
  8. How many pounds of sweet potatoes did NC produce in 2010?
  9. Why did President Roosevelt change the date of Thanksgiving?
  10. How heavy was the fattest turkey ever raised?
  11. What happens to the live turkey given to the president each year by the National Turkey Federation?
  12. What percentage of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving?
  13. How many towns in the U.S. are named Turkey? Where is the closest one?
  14. Who designed the first giant balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?
  15. Which character has appeared as a balloon in the Macy’s parade the most?

How many answers did you find? What did you learn?

Veterans Day – November, Monday 11th

Next Monday, November 11, is Veterans Day. A veteran is a soldier who has served in any of the US Armed Services like the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force or Marines. Many veterans have fought in wars for the United States and risked their lives. Some have been injured or killed.  On this day we honor all veterans, alive or dead, for their service to our country.

One of the worst wars where many, many American soldiers were killed was World War I (1914 to 1918). The  “armistice”  or truce to stop the fighting for WW I was signed by countries on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. When people heard the news, they celebrated, danced in the streets, hugged strangers and went a bit crazy with happiness and relief.

When the U.S established Veterans Day as a federal holiday, it was on Armistice Day, November 11th.  At the time, everyone hoped that that terrible war would be the last global war but unfortunately, the US has been in more wars since that time.  Even today we are in a war in Afghanistan where our Armed Service risk their lives for America.   Let us remember all our veterans on this day and give them the respect they are due.

For more information, click on this El Civics lesson – Veterans Day and look at these videos .








Trick or Treat

Pumpkins are sitting on many porches, ghosts are hanging from trees, and people are starting to wear strange costumes . What is happening???  It’s that time of year – Halloween!

On October 31,  little witches and monsters walk the street. They knock on doors  saying “Trick or Treat”  – they are  asking for candy “treat” or they may play a “trick” on you

What is happening??? It’s the fall holiday of Halloween. It’s not a legal holiday and no one gets the day off.  It is a cultural holiday that some people enjoy. Children dress up in costumes, sometimes scary ones like a ghost or sometimes not so scary ones like a princess or action hero.  Often they wait until dark and then walk with their parents to neighbors home  or maybe to a mall or community center party where they can “Trick or Treat”  for small candies.

Not just children dress up. Many adults may put on a costume too and there are often costume parties around Halloween and prizes for the “best” or most original costume.

Learn more about Halloween in this El Civics lesson

Now here are a few videos on Halloween

Some words we use on Halloween

This practices asking someone what costume they will wear on Halloween

Now let this Halloween skeleton teach us a bit about our body

Now dance the Halloween night away with this popular song …. the “Monster Mash”




At the end of this month, Americans will celebrate Halloween. Halloween is celebrated in many countries throughout the world. This video explains how Americans celebrate Halloween.

For advanced reading practice, here is an article from How Stuff Works that has a lot of great information. And if you just can’t get enough, here’s another one.

How do people celebrate Halloween in YOUR country?


Columbus Day – Monday October 14th

Every year on the second Monday in October, Americans honor Christopher Columbus for his discovery of the New World (the Americas). Columbus was not the first man to reach American- there were many native Americans that had moved slowly into the Americas from Siberia during prehistoric times.  But once Columbus came back to Spain with the news of what he found,  Europeans “discovered”  there was a whole new world out on the ocean that they never knew about.

This video gives soooo much information on Columbus, why he sailed into a dangerous ocean, what he was actually trying to find and what he found instead


As always, the El Civics site gives a wonderful lesson on this holiday =>  Columbus Day.

Test your knowledge  with this crossword

Level 3 /4 students may want to practice their reading skills with the short history of Columbus  When you are done, take the quiz at the bottom of the page.


Because Columbus was an Italian by birth, Columbus day is also a day that many Italian Americans use to celebrate their Italian heritage and contributions to America. What would America be like without pizza and pasta that Italians brought over. Too horrible to imagine!  So on Columbus Day, enjoy a nice Italian meal and raise a glass of wine to Christopher Columbus.

What and When is Easter?

Easter is the  most important holy day of the Christian Church. It is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ,  which is the central event in Christianity.  Christians believe that Jesus died for the sins of the world on Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) and then rose from the dead on the third day (Easter Sunday).  Christians hope that they too will experience a resurrected life in heaven.

The exact day of Easter falls on seems pretty old-fashioned.   The Western Church (Catholic and Protestant) continues to observe it based on the rules of long ago.  It is based on the lunar calendar and tied to the start of the solar spring.  It falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21 (the vernal equinox). It can’t come before March 22 or after April 25.  This year, Easter falls on March 31st!

Easter is the most important holiday for Christians. (photo used with permission from flickr via stringberd)

However, the Orthodox Churches wanted to tie Easter to Jewish Passover, given the relationship between Passover and the day of Christ’s resurrection. The Jewish calendar determines the date that Jews celebrate Passover, so Easter for Orthodox Churches can vary by as much as five weeks from the Western Church.

The Easter Bunny has pagan (non-religious) origins and has no connection with the Christian celebration. Rabbits have been associated with springtime since ancient times. It is believed that the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring, Eostre had a hare (rabbit) as her companion. The hare symbolizes fertility and rebirth. Later Christians changed the symbol of the hare to the Easter bunny.  The idea of an egg-laying rabbit was taken to America in the 1700’s by German immigrants.

The tradition is that on the Saturday night before Easter Sunday, the Easter bunny leaves colored Easter eggs, chocolates and maybe some small toys in an Easter basket for every child.  Another tradition is the Easter Egg Hunt.  On Easter Sunday, parents hide eggs outside in the yard and the children go on an egg hunt to find the eggs.  The children  place the eggs in their Easter baskets as the run around hunting for more eggs.  (information from,uk)

For more information about the Easter holiday, visit: