There are so many things I wish I could go and redo during my first few years of teaching. I wish I spent more time on guided reading. I wish I spent more time solving problems with my students. I wish I never used a clipchart. And I wish I never taught a holiday unit that only included Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.
Years ago, I think that was considered progressive. It was so natural and expected to focus on Christmas that so many of our students didn’t feel seen in our curriculum. Then we added Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. Many of our students do celebrate these holidays, and they are important. But Hanukkah isn’t considered a High Holiday for Jewish families. And while Kwanzaa is important, so is Juneteenth, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Indigenous People’s Day.
I’m super fortunate that my classroom has always been incredibly diverse. It was natural for me to build in characters of color and different holidays because that’s what my students needed. But now I understand it doesn’t matter what students we have. Our curriculum needs to mirror the world around us so that our students are prepared.
I wanted to share a few activities you can use to make your holidays unit more diverse and inclusive. Each of these activities is included in my Holiday pack.
These little books are a great way to present information without it being too overwhelming. Each page has a little fact as well as a space for students to write or draw.
There a lot of special vocabulary words for each holiday. For Christmas, some words might be Nativity, Santa Claus, reindeer and ornament
It’s important that students are able to connect with each holiday. One easy way to do that is to have students find the similarities and difference between the holiday they celebrate and another holiday.
When students write about each holiday, we can assess their learning and give them the opportunity to share their takeaways.
Here are a few additional activities that might be helpful to you. Sorting, graphic organizers and pages to use during and after read-alouds.
I showed a few holidays that we include in our lessons.
-Christmas (I actually do hit on the religious aspect of Christmas. While not all families celebrate Christmas because they are Christian, a lot of families do. We learn about the history of other holidays, so it’s important to share a bit about Christmas history.
-Chinese New Year (we now call this Lunar New Year and the packet is updated to reflect that.)
-Ramadan and Eid
Some other holidays you might want include are:
-Indigenous People’s Day
-Buddah Day/ Vesak Day
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