CURWENSVILLE — Students from Curwensville Area Elementary School took a trip around the world without ever leaving the school building last week.

Each of the classrooms, the library and even the elementary office were decorated to portray the traditions of the country that was housed in that room.

Students pretended to board an airplane but instead of participating in an actual trip, they watched a video with images by Google Earth that transported them to each of the countries represented throughout the school.

Each of the students made a passport that was validated in all of the countries they visited. Students were able to keep the passport as a souvenir of their learning experience. Each class also had a tour guide that escorted them from country to country and told them what they would be experiencing.

Students visited many countries to learn about their Christmas customs and traditions. In Italy they met La Befana and learned about Epiphany, also known as Three Kings’ Day, that celebrates the visit of the Magi to the Christ child.

In Mexico students made poinsettias to symbolize the star that led the three kings to Bethlehem. In Germany, they heard about Martin Luther, a protestant minister who is credited with adding lit candles to a Christmas tree and experienced a miniature evergreen forest courtesy of a donation from Lowes of Clearfield. Students also learned to say Merry Christmas in German, “Frohe Weihnachten.”

In England, carolers came to the door and sang. The Middle East offerings were a nativity featuring live animals and a parade of pilgrims that traveled through the school halls on their way to Bethlehem.

In France, students spoke via Skype with several French citizens including one who was a former exchange student who attended school in the Curwensville district several years ago. They were able to ask firsthand about Christmas traditions in that country.

During a week when many students are so intently focused on the upcoming Christmas holiday, that they have trouble focusing on schoolwork – and Christmas around the world was a welcome learning experience.

Elementary Principal Ken Veihdeffer said he was approached several weeks ago by elementary Instructor Josh Tkacik with the idea. Veihdeffer said he asked him to check with his fellow instructors and if they were interested to move forward.

“I saw a lot of students learning here today without realizing they were learning. They were just having fun,” he explained.

Veihdeffer said students experienced role-playing, made crafts and participated in activities that emphasized science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“It was great to see this today. The older kids were helping the younger ones. It was just really neat to see,” Veihdeffer said.

Third grade Instructor Lindsey Bilger said her fellow teachers are already making plans for a 2018 Christmas Around the World.

“Everyone is looking forward to next year and making plans to improve and add even more to it.”

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