- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
I feel it is vital to incorporate
as many cultures and celebrations as possible. The children can only
benefit, develop understanding, flourish, and even develop their taste
buds. We have many separate and unique celebrations. We "travel around
the world" with the holidays. We've celebrated Russian Christmas, Canadian
Christmas, Australian Christmas and many, many more. The children do
the research, the parents do the cooking, and a wonderful time is had
by all. When we return from the holidays, we also discuss how we celebrated
in our own unique way. I also try to do this with other holidays
during the year, such as New Year's. Again, the children love it.
We are having an international
winter holiday festival. We learn about a new holiday each day of the
week and do a craft associated with it. On Friday, parents are bringing
in dishes for lunch that represent the different cultures and their
holidays. There are five classes, so each teacher is responsible for
teaching one holiday and craft.
We have a "Holidays Around
the World" day in which each first-grade class rotates to a new country
(classroom) every 40 minutes. Through books, songs, costumes, and pictures,
the students develop an understanding of how that country celebrates
their holiday. They then participate in a quick curriculum-related art
or food project. A volunteer escorts the children from room to room
as their teacher remains in the classroom, instructing each new group.
We break for a picnic lunch and continue until dismissal. The students
love it and are thrilled to share their creations and new knowledge
with their families.
Judy Bingham, Miami, FL, First Grade
In my class, read-alouds
in December center around three main holidays. For Christmas, I usually
read aloud The Best Christmas Pageant Ever or The House Without a
Christmas Tree, and Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas. For
Hanukkah, I read Latkes and Applesauce, and this year I added There's
No Such Thing as a Chanukah Bush, Sandy Goldstein. I recently added
Kwanzaa by reading some stories I found on the Internet (since my
public library is sadly lacking and my book order hasn't arrived yet).
I explain to the kids (mostly Christian kids who celebrate Christmas)
that we should know what the three main holidays are all about, and
then we can make wise choices for ourselves and understand others
who feel differently. I am a former music teacher, and have always
incorporated music from "both sides" of Christmas, and Hanukkah, when
teaching in public school.
We assign students a research
paper on a winter holiday from their own heritage. They must include
customs, songs, symbols, and food. Students prepare a presentation and
provide some sort of audiovisual aid. Some of the research is interviewing
relatives. In other cases, students tell how they actually celebrate
their holiday, as we have many newly immigrated families. We have a
holiday feast for which each student brings a traditional dish to pass.
It is a grand celebration!