When I began teaching many years ago, one out of my 26 students spoke a second language. This year, seven of my 21 students speak a language other than English in their homes, including Arabic, Chaldean, Chinese, Greek, Hindi, and Portuguese. Leading a classroom and living in a country filled with such diversity is cause for celebration.
This unit includes my favorite lessons to help students understand how America began as a melting pot and has evolved into a beautiful multicultural mosaic. In Lesson One, students conduct an interview with a relative, build their family tree, record a part of their family history, and chart their family's path to America and their own hometown. In Lesson Two, students research one country from their heritage and use what they have learned to take an imaginary trip to their family's homeland. In Lesson Three, all of their hard work is pulled together into a display that is showcased during Diversity Day, a culminating event that helps children and their families celebrate what all Americans have in common — our differences.
- Learn which countries their ancestors originally came from and locate them on a world map
- Listen to an oral story about their family history, and then retell it in writing
- Label their names and those of at least two more generations on a family tree
- Use a map to plot the ancestral path that has led to their hometown
- Read various expository texts to research and take notes on a country from their heritage
- Use research to complete a travel log
- Create a display that showcases all they have learned
Diversity Day is the culminating activity for this unit. During the morning, parents and guest speakers come to share information about cultures from around the world. They speak about the country, share artifacts or cultural icons, or do a multicultural art project with the class. During the afternoon, we celebrate our differences during the Heritage Day Food Festival, when each family brings in a dish to share potluck style.
Students are asked to interview their families about their cultural heritage, create a family tree, and map their journeys to America
Children learn about their countries of heritage by developing a travel log and booking mock travel reservations.
Classmates prepare to celebrate their cultural heritage by compiling a family tree, page from history, world map, passport, and travel log, and making a flag for their topic country.