photo of Stephanie Raper

Stephanie Raper
In the Loop Editor


Italian Christmas at the Kidzeum

Snowflakes fall to the ground, laughter fills the air, and eyes sparkle as Grenada Elementary Red Top students are transported to the beautiful country of Italy. The annual Christmas exhibit at the Kidzeum is one of the highlights of the year at GES. This year, students explore the culture and traditions of the Italian people as they celebrate Christmas in Italy.

Kidzeum Italian Christmas

As students begin their first visit, a tour guide perched on a Venetian bridge overlooking a canal with a gondola and a gondolier greets them. The tour of Italy commences in the beautiful city of Venice where students learn how gondolas are rowed and how to greet one another in Italian. Next stop, the Italian marketplace!

While in the marketplace, students discover that Italians prepare most of their meals with fruits and vegetables from the current growing season. They are amazed to learn that most Italians eat around 70 pounds of pasta a year, compared to Americans who eat about 15 pounds each year. Students conclude that Americans need to "EAT MORE PASTA!", so students and staff don their chef hats, enter the Kidzeum kitchen, and create their very own homemade pasta. Students knead the dough, then use a pasta machine to roll out linguini. As it cooks, they discuss immigration and learn that Chef Boyardi traveled from Italy to America and became a citizen of the United States.

The tour doesn't end in the kitchen, however. Rome, Pisa, and Florence are the next stops as students explore Christmas in Italy. While visiting these cities, students learn about Nero, Italian architecture, the Tower of Pisa, Leonardo da Vinci, and other famous Italians and their creations. Hands-on activities include recreating the Mona Lisa, writing like Leonardo da Vinci, and practicing their skills with a yo-yo.

On their second visit, students open the doors to find snow falling inside the Kidzeum. Giggles and laughter fill the air as the children gaze at the multitude of lights glowing around the room and the beautiful Christmas tree donated by the local Wal-Mart. Ornaments created with pictures of each visiting class decorate the tree to honor the Italians' love of family. Italians celebrate many special days during the holiday season including St. Nicholas Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Epiphany. Did you know that Befana, the Christmas witch, visits Italian children on Epiphany?

As the students' visit to Christmas in Italy winds to a close, they write letters to their parents. In Italy, children write letters to their parents on Christmas Eve and hide them under their dinner plates. The letters thank their parents for all they do for them, and promise that the children will be good during the upcoming year. Children also create small brooms during this time to remind them of the legend of La Befana.

The magical tour of Italy allows students at GESRT to experience a different culture right in Grenada. Parents, don't be surprised if you find a pasta maker or pizzelle press on your child's Christmas list. These treats were a huge hit as they traveled the world and celebrated Christmas in Italy!

***Thanks to Melanie Williams, Kidzeum Director, for contributing this article.