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Dates From Tree to Table

Discover the significance of dates during and immediately after Ramadan. Study the date palm's botanical characteristics and create a replica of Eid al-Fitr.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Ask students what holidays are celebrated with certain foods? Why are those foods eaten then? Is it because the food is ripe during that season or is there a tradition associated with it? For Islamic people, the fruit of the date palm tree takes on a greater significance during the month of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, the festival that follows the end of Ramadan fasting.
    2. Dates trees are very well suited to the desert. Their long, flexible trunks can withstand strong winds. Students will research and learn more about this tree's botanical features to discover more reasons why it grows well in such an extreme climate.
    3. There is an Arabic saying that the date palm has as many uses as there are days in the year. Besides the fruit that has been harvested for more than 6,000 years, oasis dwellers use the leaves for fuel, the fibers for rope, and the wood for construction. A palm tree's shade protects other plants from harsh desert sun. Students research date palms to learn about their 360 other uses.
    4. All over the world, Islamic people break their daily Ramadan fast (Iftar) in the same way—by eating dates---even if they live thousands of miles from date palms. This is the way the Prophet Mohammed broke his fast 1,400 years ago. Ramadan marks the time when Allah (the Muslim name for God) started to reveal the Quran (holy book of Islam, often called the Koran) to Mohammed.
    5. Students create a triarama display to show their understanding of the role that date palms play in the observance of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr. Open a recycled file folder and cut it into a square with Crayola® Scissors. Fold the square into a triangle, and then fold it the other direction to make a smaller triangle. Open the file folder and cut along any one of the new folds from the edge into the center of the square. Slide the two triangles on either side of the cut on top of one another to form a floor and two-sided corner. Flatten out, noting which sides are walls and which triangle is the floor.
    6. With Crayola Colored Pencils or Color Sticks, students draw a scene of breaking the fast on the two walls. Include dates and water as well as people, furniture, or other details. Add more visual information to indicate the time of day and location of the home. Decorate the floor of the triarama with a rug of Islamic design.
    7. Pop up the triarama and use Crayola School Glue to seal the bottom triangle under the floor.
    8. On another piece of file folder, students draw a date palm tree, ripe with dates ready to be picked. Students should include details from their study of the tree. Cut it out. Cut another small piece of file folder and fold it to fit behind the trunk for support. Glue in place. Attach the tree to the scene.
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    SCI: Ask questions about the natural and human-built worlds.

    SCI: Construct original explanations of phenomena using knowledge of accepted scientific theory and linking it to models and evidence.

    SS: Compare ways in which people from different cultures think about and deal with their physical environment and social conditions.

    SS: Give examples of and explain group and institutional influences such as religious beliefs, laws, and peer pressure, on people, events, and elements of culture.

    SS: Explore ways that language, art, music, belief systems, and other cultural elements may facilitate global understanding or lead to misunderstanding.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of their ideas.

    VA: Know and compare the characteristics of artworks in various eras and cultures.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources: Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story by Hena Kahn; Ramadhan and Eid-ul-Fitr by Azra Jessa

    After checking for food allergies in the class, ask students to try tasking a date. What do they like about it? What do they not like?

    In small groups, students can create a seasonal representation of the maturing of the date tree. Included in this artwork should be a paragraph describing changes.

    Students interview parents and grandparents about holidays that they celebrate as a family, as well as traditions and foods associated with those holidays. Students may collect favorite recipes that are representative of those holiday foods. Prepare an electronic presentation about this research for classmates. To accompany this presentation, students prepare a favorite holiday food to share with classmates. Check with the school nurse to see if there are any food allergy issues in the classroom and include a printed recipe for each member of the audience.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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