Teach U.S. Holidays

There are three basic ways to integrate civics into English language instruction (IELCE). You can include materials and interactions for the workplace, community, or citizenship. This article will focus on incorporating U.S. Citizenship / Civics Education by teaching about U.S. Holidays.

“Name two national U.S. holidays.” is one of the questions on the 100-question U.S. Citizenship Test. A simple and practical way to integrate citizenship is by introducing various topics using U.S. national holidays. There are many resources for teaching about U.S. holidays. Holiday textbooks and citizenship textbooks have practical short articles about the history and customs for each holiday. Websites like ESL Civics and USCIS provide a wide assortment of materials, short stories, and fun activities. It may be necessary to adjust some of these resources to include the precise information and actual questions from the U.S. Citizenship Test. In addition, I place an asterisk mark before the U.S. Citizenship questions to denote this is what students may be asked during their interview.

Below is a list of federal (national*) and other holidays, dates, and topics:
  • *New Year’s Day (January 1) Other New Year's Days
  • *Martin Luther King, Jr Day (3rd Monday in Jan.) Martin Luther King, Jr and the Civil Rights Movement, 
  • *Presidents Day (3rd Monday in Feb.) President Washington, President Lincoln and the Civil War, President Wilson, F. Roosevelt, Eisenhower, 
  • Tax Day (April 15) 
  • *Memorial Day (Last Monday in May) Wars in the 1800’s and 1900s
  • *Juneteenth (June 19th) Emancipation Proclamation, President Lincoln and Civil War
  • Flag Day (June 14th) American Flag
  • *Independence Day (July 4) Declaration of Independence, Revolutionary War
  • Patriots Day (Sept. 11) 911, Terrorist Attack
  • Constitution Day / New Citizen Day (Sept 17th) The U.S. Constitution and Amendments, 
  • *Labor Day (First Monday in September) Labor movements, Equal pay, Discrimination
  • *Columbus Day (2nd Mon. in Oct.) Columbus discovering the New World, Native Americans living in North and South America, Immigration
  • Election Day (2nd Tuesday in November) Voting Amendments and President, 
  • *Veterans Day (November 11) World War 1 & 2, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War
  • *Thanksgiving Day (4th Thurs. in Nov.) Early American Colonists, Native Americans
  • *Christmas (December 25) Religion and beliefs

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