BROOKSVILLE — The dreidel spun around and around on the blue tray, finally falling on its side. The child who set it in motion either won or lost gelt or gold in the pot. The "gold" was play coins, and the Dreidel Game was played to familiarize Moton Elementary School students with a holiday tradition in Israel.
Israel, sponsored by the fifth-graders, was not the only country into which the children and their families gained a little insight. The event was called Christmas Around the World and was coordinated by Title I facilitator Colleen Maine.
"In the past, Moton has always done a winter wonderland, but this year we decided to put a different spin on it," Maine said.
Grade levels from kindergarten through fifth focused on different countries and prepared activities for the rest of the children and their families. Kindergarten took on the Netherlands and provided pictures of wooden shoes on heavy paper for children to color, cut out and glue together.
Kindergarten teacher Jenna Dissette recognized the benefits of the event.
"I think this whole thing is a good idea so children can learn about cultures from around the world," Dissette said as she monitored the wooden shoe table.
Parent Aixa Tossas agreed.
"I love it. It's something different and it's motivational," she said.
"It's a good way to interact with the kids," added Jorge Tossas Sr.
First grade spotlighted poinsettias or Flores de Noche Buena (Flowers of the Holy Night). The class provided materials to make poinsettia ornaments.
Second-grade teacher Dawn Becker and her fellow second-grade teachers managed to inject a little math into their activity representing Germany.
"We are building a tree," Becker said. "They are known for the story of the Christmas tree."
The trees they were constructing were made of toothpicks and gumdrops. Children were expected to design tall, stable trees, count the number of toothpicks and gumdrops they used and measure their heights.
The third-grade activity was popular. The students remained in the United States, but focused on a less well-known celebration, Kwanzaa.
"There are a lot of awesome things that Kwanzaa stands for," said third-grade teacher Colleen Fail — including unity, self-determination, collective work, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
They offered bracelet-making, using black pipe cleaners and three colors of beads. The red ones represented the blood shed for freedom. The green ones were for Africa's green land, and the black ones were for the African race. The children used seven beads to represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
This was second-grader's Jorge Tossas Jr.'s favorite activity.
"I like bracelets and red, green and black," the 7-year-old said.
Students gathered around the fourth-grade table celebrated St. Lucia, a Swedish tradition.
"We're making St. Lucia crowns," said fourth-grade teacher Craig Barter.
Students colored paper candles and cut them out. Then they were attached to construction paper head rings to create the crowns.
Parent Kristin Morace attended the event, which included displays of the students' work, with her four children.
"It's a great family activity," Morace said.
She enjoyed looking at her children's writing samples.
"You want to see that," she said.
Her children had favorite activities that night. For third-grader Chloe Williams, 8, it was "being with my family (and) probably the bracelet-making."
First-grader Addyson Williams, 6, liked being part of one of the three singing presentations the children had prepared for their parents. Addyson was singing with the kindergarten/first-grade group.
The Hernando County Boys & Girls Clubs at Moton provided ornament making, along with hot chocolate and cookies. Kingsley Williams, 4, is in prekindergarten and not yet at Moton, but she was there with her sisters, first-grader brother Jayden Williams, 6, (and Addyson's twin) and their mother. She said she liked decorating the tree ornament from the Boys & Girls Clubs.
Adding to the festivities, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Spring Hill had a book drive for a giveaway.
"They gave us 100 books, wrapped," Maine said, and one went to each family.
By the end of the evening, every book was gone.