Hi friends! I wanted to stop by today and share something that’s super close to my heart! I’ve shared before but I have always taught in very diverse schools. My first school was 95% Hispanic and extremely high poverty. My second school had kiddos from all over…we had tons of refugee kiddos, families who came from India, Pakistan, Iraq, Africa, and so many other places. Some of my families were in poverty and some weren’t but they all had unique needs and experiences! I ALWAYS tried to make our classroom inclusive, open, and welcoming. I would like to think that all of my students felt important every single day and that their culture, language, home life, etc. was understood and appreciated! 🙂 One time I felt like this was especially important was during major holidays. I wanted to stop by and share a few tips for helping everyone feel included, no matter what they celebrate!
This post is specifically regarding kiddos who DO celebrate holidays. I have never worked with a child that’s Jehovah’s Witness but if I had, I would absolutely want to make sure they felt just as included in our classroom and work with their parents to support them! Here are a few articles that might be helpful in that specific instance. 🙂
I’m going to share a few pieces of advice and resources that might be helpful in supporting students of all different religions/backgrounds and I’d love to hear any tips you have in the comments as well! 🙂
My first piece of advice is to include lots of diverse read-alouds into your day! Around holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter) it’s super easy to do all our read-alouds using holiday books! The kiddos are super engaged and it brings a little more magic into this time. But it’s also easy to ONLY use books about holiday we celebrate, and there are SO many other wonderful books to use!
Lots of Lights is about 2 elephants celebrating Diwali and The Runaway Wok is a sweet traditional tale about Chinese New Year. They’re perfect for bringing other holidays into our read aloud and comprehension time! 🙂 I even created a pack with some of my favorite holiday read alouds with corresponding discussion questions! The packet includes 6 read-alouds with teacher pages and 3-5 after reading activities. 🙂
My second piece of advice is to focus on the similarities! Of course each holiday is a bit different. Some are religious…some are not. Some involve gifts and some don’t. But almost all holidays focus on spending time with family, being grateful, and helping others! 🙂 Here’s an example of an activity that shows kiddos how many things Christmas and Ramadan have in common. The goal is NOT to talk about religion or cause controversy. The goal is to help our students see how much they have in common with their peers who seem different that them! 🙂 The focus is on our STUDENTS.
Another quick and easy way to help students feel included is introduce traditional songs and videos! Most of our students know traditional Christmas carols. One year, I realized that even my Muslim students were singing along to Christmas carols but we had no idea about THEIR traditional songs. When I started bringing in songs from their cultures their eyes lit up and they immediately felt special! Here are some favorites! They’re perfect for Brain Breaks or to play during transitions!
During your holidays unit, have students share their experiences! Kiddos LOVE teaching their peers about their traditions and it’s much more engaging to hear it from a friend than from a book or video! In the past, I have also invited parents in to share about a holiday! There are often community centers that would LOVE to help spread information about their culture that you can contact! After students have learned, have them write about the holidays! Writing solidifies their learning and helps them remember what they learned. 🙂
Teaching about Holidays doesn’t just have to be during our Social Studies time! It’s super easy to integrate into our whole group, reading, and writing, as well! 🙂 Here are some examples of classroom activities that include lots of reading and writing! 🙂
I truly hope this post was helpful to you! 🙂 What tips do you have for teachers who want to include other holidays into their learning?