Celebrating Our First Teachers and Costuming to Catch Attention

My mother was one of my best teachers. She visited my class. I miss her; especially I did yesterday on Mother's Day.

My mother was my first teacher and one of my best. She visited some of my classes. I miss her, especially on Mother’s Day.

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

Mother’s Day is around the corner in the US today, now that the calendar has turned to May.

This annual special Sunday for moms is celebrated on different days in different parts of the world.

In India, for example, people of the Hindu faith celebrate mothers in an October festival they call “Durga Puja.”

In Japan, Mother’s Day dates back to the Showa period. The modern traditions began in 1913, marking the second Sunday in May as the day to celebrate. Japanese children say, “Haha-no-hi!” – “Happy Mother’s Day!”

In the UK, Mothering Sunday falls on March 6 each year.

The US and the Ukraine share the second Sunday in May each year to recognize the many contributions that mothers make to our lives.

As it is celebrated in the US, Mother’s Day was first observed on May 10, 1908 in West Virginia, in honor of Mrs. Reese Jarvis.

This thanks to efforts begun in 1858 by her daughters, Anna and Elsinore.

By (US) Presidential proclamation on May 9, 1914, the second Sunday in May was declared to be observed as Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day celebrations are centuries old.

Research shows that Mother’s Day can be traced back to springtime celebrations in ancient Greece that honored Rhea, “the mother of the Gods.”

Teachers in grades K – 5 often help students create Mother’s Day gifts to send home…


one role that all mothers play is…first teacher.

Here’s a new take on Mother’s Day

Take your mom to school!

This may be possible only in a photo or video, but IF you can bring your mom to school in person – that would be best of all.

A teacher and her mother dress in prairie costumes to help students learn about pioneer days in the US.

Nancy Hulse and her daughter, Debbie Slais, dress in prairie costumes to help students in Debbie’s third grade class learn about pioneer days in the US.

Bringing mom to school is a cool attention-getting tool.

That’s what Debbie Slais, a third grade teacher, does when her mom, Nancy Hulse, visits each year.

This special mother-daughter team dresses to impress – that is – to catch and hold students’ attention – in Debbie’s class.

As part of her Social Studies curriculum Debbie teaches a third grade unit on The Oregon Trail.

She has had success helping students learn by bringing history to life through costuming.

Like mother, like daughter…Nancy worked as a Special Education teacher for twenty-eight years before retiring.

Ask her if she knows a thing or two about kids and her smile and eyes reveal her experience. Imagine the stories she has to tell!

Storytelling is part of the costuming “gig” that Nancy and Debbie have created.

Westward ho along The Oregon Trail in mid-nineteenth century America

Westward ho along The Oregon Trail in mid-nineteenth century America

On the designated day when Debbie’s class will (pretend to) head out on the Oregon Trail, Nancy comes to class already in costume. She plays the role of Nellie, mother to Debbie’s character, Sally. “Well, hello there boys and girls,” Nellie greets the class. “My daughter, Sally, should be along soon. She had to tend to the horses,”

Nancy explains why their teacher is not in the room. The kids instantly get the “gig” and take their seats eager to see what comes next.

Debbie rushes into her classroom in character attire and voice, announcing that it’s time to sew marble bags to prepare for a long journey along The Oregon Trail.

When Debbie brings her mom to school, their entertaining and educational skit in costume holds students spellbound. Oregon Trail (pretend) travel activities include reaching the west coast and having a quilting bee, piecing together some of the fabric squares the students have learned to design and stitch.

No matter what part of the world you live in, you can invite your mom (in-person or not) to be part of your teaching plan.

Every nation has a history that children who are native to that land learn.

Making simple costumes based on your nation’s history, like pioneer women costumes are to America, or simply wearing or showing special occasion clothing you and your mom have or had can help connect kids to your Social Studies curriculum.

Costuming is a classroom-tested trick for effective teaching.

As every mother and every teacher knows, children learn by doing. When you set the classroom stage for learning by wearing curriculum-connected costumes in school, and by using “props,” like crafts that are part of your traditions, you engage students in learning.

Here’s to celebrating our first teachers and dressing, not just to impress, but to support your curriculum.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in any instructional setting!

Please send comments about how you use costumes for teaching.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Students are acting sluggish in class.

Solution: Show "The BIG E," for ENERGY, an enlarged letter E (or other first letter for the word energy in your alphabet), available in craft stores. Remind the class that energy is a must-have item to get good work done. Tell the class to show you "The BIG E!"

Related Posts: Show Off "The Big E"