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Traveling the World, Family by Family

First Grade Memorial Elementary School student Matthew Xu displays his project on China during the March 28 World Fair. Students choose a country of their own heritage to research including fun facts about holidays, food, and clothing.

First grade students at Memorial Elementary School traveled the world and back in one afternoon during their third-annual "World Class Fair."

As part of their curriculum, first-graders at Memorial recently finished reading Captain Bill Pinkney's Journey by Bill Pinkney, a true story about a man who sails around the world and visits the lands of his ancestors during his journey. A few years ago, the first grade team of teachers decided to extend this activity by having the students learn about their own ancestry.

Students were asked to choose a country of their own heritage and research and recreate the country's map including the capital, and the country's flag, using the flag's authentic color and design. The students also needed to research fun facts about their country such as facts about climate, holidays, traditions, language, foods, and clothing.

While researching their individual countries, students also did research on the continents, each bringing in facts about a specific continent to share with the class to put together for a group collage. "This made learning about the countries more meaningful for the students, as then they knew which continent their country was in," said First Grade teacher Renee Luzzetti.

On March 28, family members were invited into the classrooms to take a "world class tour" across the countries to see the students' presentations and hear about where their families may have come from. Countries represented included Italy, Ireland, Guatemala, Lithuania, Sweden, Brazil, and China to name a few. "We have a lot of different countries this year. It is wonderful; there is a lot of diversity here," said Luzzetti.

One of those countries represented was Brazil, where first-grade student Isabella Wilson's mother and grandmother came from. "Brazil has a lot of beaches and produces the world's best coffee," said Isabella. She said one of the most interesting facts she found during her research was that Brazil has the biggest rainforest in the world. "This was a fun project," she said.

Thousands of miles, or one classroom away over in Alyssa Couture's first grade class, Matthew Xu gave a presentation on China, where his ancestors are from. "The first paper was made in China, the most important invention in China is ice cream and fortune cookies were not made in China," Matthew stated about some of the interesting facts he learned about the country. Matthew included pictures from a recent trip to China with his family and also brought small Chinese clay soldiers that were over one thousand years old to use as a visual aid for his project.

Back in Upton, families walked through the displays, getting an education in geography and history without becoming too jet-lagged. "This is wonderful," said Luzzetti about the Fair. "The children were all very excited about today," she said.


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