Mini Unit

El Ed 405

Subtopic: Parades

Grade Level: 3rd- 4th grade

Author: Celeste C. Biggs



A parade is a public march or procession honoring a particular occasion. Parades take on different meaning depending on the mood and the reason for the parade. In some places a parade may become an important part of a holiday tradition. In other places, a parade may mark a special event. Other parades may also be used so everyone can see some special person.

Although the origins of parades are unknown, there is evidence of parades in cave paintings in Spain dating back ten thousand years ago. From these paintings, experts speculate that the earliest parades consisted of prehistoric men carrying back to camp their game they had killed during the hunt. Since that time, many people throughout history have participated in parades.

Many types of parades have emerged since the cave paintings. As early as 3000 B.C., religious processions were one form of a parade. Religious processions were formed in the hope of moving a step nearer to heaven. Over the years, religious processions have changed but they are still in existence today in one form or another.

Another type of parade is the military parade. The word parade comes from the Spanish word parada. Parada means a halt, a stop or an assembling for exercise. The parade was originally a military maneuver. The military parade was a frequent occurrence during years in ancient Rome. The Romans used the parade as a diplomatic maneuver. Many of their enemies were frightened by the sight of an army marching together. The military parade is still in existence today. It is not used as often as in the past but it is still used by some.

Parades can take place to honor special people. This was found in the early Olympic games. The athletes paraded before their contests. This type of parade of athletes is still part of the ceremony at the Olympics today. Also one of the first parades in the United States honored a special person. A parade was held for Washington as he took his place as the first President of the United States.

Parades have also been held to celebrate special events. During ancient Roman times, parades were held to introduce performers from the circus. The Romans would also have parades for different seasons. This would include seasons such as mid-winter, midsummer and autumn. Today the same theme is prominent when we see events such as Apple, Strawberry or Wheat Days.

Many times parades take place in order to celebrate holidays. Most of the parades that take place today fall under this category. In the United States, the day that the most parades take place is on the Fourth of July. Most of the televised parades are also holiday parades. For example, Macy's Thanksgiving parade is on Thanksgiving day and the Tournament of Roses is held on New Year's Day.

All the essential items needed in a modern parade date back to ancient Greece times where parades included music, marchers, floats and animals. The size and purpose of the parade will determine how many of the essential items will show up in a parade. A parade need not have all items but most parades will have some form of them. Whether a parade has all four of the essential items or not, one person that is in most parades is the Grand Marshal. This is an honorary title given to the person chosen to lead the parade. Sometimes the title goes to the highest ranking military officer of the armed services in the district. It is also custom that the first band in the parade should represent the Grand Marshal.

When planning a parade a few things must be considered in order for a parade to run smoothly. One thing that must be addressed is guidelines. In order for a parade not to turn in to chaos, guidelines must be set for those involved in the parade. With set guidelines parades participants are able to be creative within boundaries. Another important part of a parade involves the other side of the parade or in other words the audience. In order for a parade to have an audience, people must be informed early of a parade. Without an audience, most parades would not be in existence. Many times if there is not an audience, there is not a need for a parade.

Today, parades can be found on any single day of the year in many different countries. People use parades in different ways all the way from honoring people to celebrating holidays. It may be foggy as to where exactly parades originated from but in any case they have been around for thousands of years and will probably stay for a thousand more years.


Davis,S. (1953). Parades and Power. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

Fenten, B.& D. (1981) The Team Behind the Great Parades. Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press.

Lagauskas,V. (1982) Parades- How to Plan, Promote and Stage Them. New York: Sterling Publishing Co.

Vaughn, L. (1956) Parades and Float Guide. Minneapolis, MN: T.S. Denison


Time Allotment: Approximately 4 to 5 class periods.

Resources Needed:


A. Brainstorm. Ask students to identify a few parades that they have seen or been in. List these on the board.

B. Mini Lecture. Explain that the origin of a parade is unknown but over time many types of parades have emerged. Give examples of each kind of parade. ( This would include cave paintings, religious, military, honoring special events or to celebrate holidays.) Have students then name any more parades they have seen that would fall into these new categories. Record their responses on the board, adding to the parades that are already listed.

C. Carousel. Discuss with the students the fact that in ancient Greece times, all the essential items needed in a parade today were also used then. The four essential items are music, marchers, floats and animals. Explain the meaning of each word in order to clear any misunderstanding. Then spilt the students into four groups. Have the essential items posted around the room where on each piece of paper only one word will be written. Have the students record their thoughts of why each of these items have been called "essential" items for a parade. Each group will write with a different colored marker in order for all others to see what has already been written down by other groups. Discuss together as a class some of the ideas that were written down.

D. Speaker. Have a local person that has been in charge of a parade come in and talk to the students. Have this person give the students some ideas of how to organize a parade. Also have the speaker address problems that arise during the organization of a parade and give some solutions to these problems. Have the speaker talk about the need for publicity in order for any one to attend the parade.

E. Discussion. Discuss some of the guidelines that are set for different parades. (Have pictures of parades and televised versions of parades.) Explain that in order for a parade to run smoothly there must be rules and regulations set up prior to the parade. These differ according to the purpose of the parade. (e.g., The tournament of roses in Pasadena, California has set a rule that fresh flowers must be used to decorate any parade entry.) Tell the students about the upcoming parade that they will be having on Friday. After discussing the different guidelines set up by other parades, have each student come up with two guidelines that could be used for their own parade. Give the students a few examples to get them started. (e.g., A float may not exceed three feet tall. No real musical instruments may be used.) Decide on as a class five guidelines that must be used when constructing their parade.

F. Hands on. Review the essential items of a parade. (e.g. music, marchers, floats and animals) Have the class split into four groups. Each group will represent one of the four essential items in a parade. The students will decide how they will represent each of these items, given the guidelines, in their parade. As a class, we will discuss in what order the parade should go. For example, should we have the music first or the marchers, or possibly intermix all of the essential items in their parade.

G. Election. After the parade is constructed introduce to the students what a Grand Marshal of a parade is. Next there will be an election, where students will nominate other class members who they feel should be Grand Marshal of their parade. The nominations will be in a secret ballot (see Appendix). Class members may only nominate other students that they have seen doing something nice, whether it was on the playground or in class. Give the students some examples to help them look for nice behavior (e.g., students who help others when hurt, a student who lets others play a game with them).

H. Publicity. Discuss the advantages of publicity when having a parade. Also bring in points made by the speaker concerning publicity. Have the students brainstorm ideas in order to publicize their parade. Ask them who they want their audience to be (e.g., parents, other students from school, members of the community). Have them follow through on the two ideas they think are the best. (Some ideas that students might come up with may include posters or having the office announce their parade over the intercom.) If they want parents to come to the parade a note may be sent home (see Appendix).

I. Parade. Have students parade around the school. Parents, other students and members of the community may watch depending on who the students want to invite.


Sentences that contain 2 guidelines for their parade will be assessed.

Responses to carousel questions.

Poster completed for publicity and the sharing of it will be assessed.

The parade will assess how well students learned the essential skills of a parade.



I nominate________________________________________ because I saw him/her doing______________________________________________________________ .



Dear Parents,

We are discussing parades this week. One of the topics we will be addressing are the essential items for a parade. Students will be constructing a parade that will use these essential items. After constructing these items the students will be putting on a parade. We would like to invite all parents to come at 2:00p.m. on Friday, March 22. The parade will be located on the playground east of the school. We appreciate all of those that can make it.



Celeste C. Biggs

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