Try these strategies to help you explore children's family traditions and offer other children in the group an opportunity to join in the fun!
- Send a questionnaire home to parents to learn about the holidays and traditions important to the families of the children in the class. Throughout the year, invite parents to come in and talk with children about their celebrations and share photos, videos, children's books, artifacts, and special foods with the class.
- Investigate the meaning of eye contact for different groups, including when it is and is not appropriate to look a person directly in the eye. Also explore body contact, helping children to see cultural variations regarding appropriateness of personal space and distance.
- Invite children to draw pictures of their special holidays and traditions. Send the drawings home and ask parents to contribute a sentence or two to the drawings, describing the activities. Compile the drawings into a book children can explore and enjoy in your class library.
- Collect objects/foods/posters that reflect the customs and traditions of the children in your group. Throughout the year, hold classroom celebrations that are reenactments of these traditions.
- Investigate celebrations, discussing the different ways they may be observed by different groups of people. For example, how do different groups celebrate birthdays? Weddings? Graduations?
by Julia Reguero de Atiles, Ph.D., faculty member at the University of Georgia.
Plan ample time for children to work individually, but also make sure the classroom spaces are large enough so that there will always be room for large groups of children to be together.