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Featured Resources: Fall Holiday Traditions

Fall Holiday Traditions

Explore how the arts connect with our traditions and celebrations during the fall season

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Our featured resources focus on:
Fall Holiday Traditions

As leaves change and temperatures chill, the season brings opportunities to participate in diverse cultural celebrations. The arts are an excellent way to explore these fall holiday traditions from Halloween (October 31), to El Día de los Muertos (November 2), to Diwali (November 12), and more.

First up, we are featuring our article Beyond Food & Fiestas, which is full of practical suggestions on how to create authentic cultural experiences in your classroom.

Next, we are featuring a lesson for grades 3-5, Comparing Cultural Holidays, which has students compare the holiday traditions of Halloween, celebrated in the United States, and El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), celebrated in Mexico. Next, another lesson for grades 3-5, Haunting Music, has students create a class mural inspired by scary and superstitious musical compositions: Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre.

For K-2 classrooms, we are featuring our lesson Adjective Monster, which has students create sculptures and learn adjectives to describe their monstrous clay creations. 

For grades 9-12, we’re featuring the lesson The Making of Monsters, which has students investigate monsters in film and across cultures, analyze film scores and soundtracks that feature monsters, and create original conceptions of a monster to present in a multimedia presentation.

Up next is a Halloween-themed performance from Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats. What if supernatural creatures were real and have been walking among us in disguise? What if the days surrounding Halloween are their days to shine just as they are? Find yourself bedazzled by this bewitching video concert.

Next, explore a small collection of resources about the spooky sides of the season. Your Brain on Music: Chills and Thrills (part of a series on how the brain responds to music) explains why some music sounds scary with plenty of well-known terrifying audio clips. Halloween Decorating Tips from Theater Designers will help you create a fun visual atmosphere in your home (or classroom!). Discover the tricks of suspenseful sound effects with Creating a Spooky Radio Play and learn about the tricks you can use to rattle readers with The Skeleton of a Scary Story.

But this time of year isn’t just about ghosts and goblins. With Soundtrack to the Seasons, give each season a personal musical playlist to keep the classics with you all year round.

And finally, prepare for the Diwali Festival of Lights, the celebration of the Hindu New Year, by learning about Indian music and dance with Rhythm and Raga (focusing on form, structure, and instruments), Music of India (a three-part audio story on history and culture), and Ragamala Dance (exploring traditional Bharatanatyam dance).

Explore our robust collection of lessons, media, and articles, organized by grade and subject.

We would love to hear your feedback on this collection, as well as your ideas for future collections. And if you have ideas about curating a collection of Kennedy Center Education resources, let us know! We’d love to share your expertise with our educator community.

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Featured Resources: Fall Holiday Traditions

Article Beyond Food & Fiestas

Practical ideas for creating authentic cultural experiences for your students.

  • Language Studies
  • World Cultures

Lesson Comparing Cultural Holidays

In this 3-5 lesson, students will explore the holiday traditions, music, and art of Halloween and Día de los Muertos. Students will create an altar in memory of a loved one.

  • Grades 3-5
  • Visual Arts
  • Social Studies & Civics
  • Sensitive Themes
  • Holidays & Traditions

Lesson Haunting Music

In this 3-5 lesson, students will create a class mural inspired by spooky and superstitious musical compositions. They will learn about orchestra program music by exploring the works of Hector Berlioz’s, Symphonie Fantastique, and Camille Saint-Saëns’, Danse Macabre.

  • Grades 3-5
  • Music
  • Visual Arts
  • English & Literature
  • Holidays & Traditions

Lesson Adjective Monster

In this K-2 lesson, students will create their own adjective monsters using paper sculpture techniques. They will explore the connections between visual art and language arts, and how both are used to creatively tell stories and express emotions.

  • Visual Arts
  • English & Literature
  • Math
  • Grades K-2

Lesson The Making of Monsters

In this 9-12 lesson, students will investigate monsters in film and across cultures. Students will analyze film scores and soundtracks that feature monsters. Students will create original conceptions of a monster to present in a multimedia presentation.

  • Media Arts
  • World Cultures
  • Grades 9-12
  • Television, Film, & Radio

Media Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats in Concert

What if supernatural creatures were real and have been walking among us in disguise? What if the days surrounding Halloween are their days to shine just as they are? Find yourself bedazzled by this bewitching video concert.

  • Grades 3-5
  • Music
  • Jazz & Blues
  • Holidays & Traditions

Media Creating a Spooky Radio Play

Write, record, and scream! A creative way to explore not-too-scary storytelling

  • Audio Production
  • Television, Film, & Radio

Media The Skeleton of a Scary Story

What gives a scary story its boo factor? Learn about the tricks you can use to rattle readers.

  • Literary Arts
  • Fiction & Creative Writing

Media Soundtrack to the Seasons

Feel like giving each season a personal playlist? This handy guide to keeping the classics with you all year round can help.

  • Music
  • Animals & Nature
  • Holidays & Traditions
  • Life Cycles

Media Rhythm and Raga

The music of India is diverse, but there is still a distinct “sound” that makes Indian music unmistakable-- use this resource to learn the basics of Indian music.

  • Music
  • World Music
  • India

Media Music of India

This 3-part audio series explores different aspects of Indian music: Indian musical instruments; the styles of music across India; and what makes Indian music unique—and where it is going

  • Music
  • World Music
  • India

Media Ragamala Dance

Learn about traditional Indian Bharatanatyam dance from the Ragamala Dance company

  • Dance
  • World Dance
  • India
Kennedy Center Education Digital Learning

Eric Friedman 
Director, Digital Learning

Kenny Neal 
Manager, Digital Education Resources

Tiffany A. Bryant 
Manager, Operations and Audience Engagement

Joanna McKee 
Program Coordinator, Digital Learning

JoDee Scissors 
Content Specialist, Digital Learning

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Generous support for educational programs at the Kennedy Center is provided by the U.S. Department of Education. The content of these programs may have been developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education but does not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education. You should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Gifts and grants to educational programs at the Kennedy Center are provided by A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation; Annenberg Foundation; the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Bank of America; Bender Foundation, Inc.; Carter and Melissa Cafritz Trust; Carnegie Corporation of New York; DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities; Estée Lauder; Exelon; Flocabulary; Harman Family Foundation; The Hearst Foundations; the Herb Alpert Foundation; the Howard and Geraldine Polinger Family Foundation; William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust; the Kimsey Endowment; The King-White Family Foundation and Dr. J. Douglas White; Laird Norton Family Foundation; Little Kids Rock; Lois and Richard England Family Foundation; Dr. Gary Mather and Ms. Christina Co Mather; Dr. Gerald and Paula McNichols Foundation; The Morningstar Foundation;

The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; Music Theatre International; Myra and Leura Younker Endowment Fund; the National Endowment for the Arts; Newman’s Own Foundation; Nordstrom; Park Foundation, Inc.; Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; The Irene Pollin Audience Development and Community Engagement Initiatives; Prince Charitable Trusts; Soundtrap; The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust; Rosemary Kennedy Education Fund; The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates; UnitedHealth Group; The Victory Foundation; The Volgenau Foundation; Volkswagen Group of America; Dennis & Phyllis Washington; and Wells Fargo. Additional support is provided by the National Committee for the Performing Arts.

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