The holidays are an excellent opportunity to provide students with a larger view of the world around them. The best place to start is with the family traditions each student has at home. Even a single family unit has a diversity of traditions, and parents can share the ways their childhood celebrations are a blend of what the family does today. Very few homes celebrate in exactly the same way, and this variety within one’s own family is a great springboard to the many different holiday tales and customs from around the world.
Ask students to draw or create a collage of their own favorite part of the season. Display everyone’s creations and discuss the many ways we celebrate. Even those homes choosing not to “celebrate” a particular holiday will have valued traditions to share. If possible, explore the countries these traditions came from beginning with the cultures represented in your particular classroom. Use maps and globes to visualize where the traditions originally started.
Resources For Multicultural Holiday Lessons
There are a number of good resources available to educators online. Here are a few of the best:
- Celebrating Winter Holidays in the Classroom is Scholastic’s excellent collection of lessons & teaching ideas
- San Antonio College has this LibGuide of Holidays – Folklore, Fairy Tales, Mythology, & Customs
- Create an Inclusive Season of Giving to focus on the universal theme of the season
One of the best resources for educators is the local library. Get to know the Children’s Librarian by becoming a regular visitor and discussing the topics you are researching. Most librarians get very excited about sharing the wealth of information they work with, and many will have already pulled a collection of multicultural holiday offerings from their shelves to display. From fiction to non-fiction, the local Children’s Librarian is an educator’s best resource for books on a topic.
Opportunities For STEAM Unit Studies
Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math can be integrated into a seasonal unit study very easily by tapping into student interest. The STEAM Holiday Gift Guide is a collection of gift suggestions that can ignite a spark of interest into a passion for learning. Knowing your students and providing ways to do some of the traditions from around the world is a natural segue into STEAM activities.
Depending on grade level, students can explore crystallization (snowflakes, sugar candy), do research on family background online, build structures (gingerbread houses, snowmen), create gifts for friends and family, and learn measurement while doing these activities. That’s a small example of the possible ways to incorporate STEAM into the holidays, and every group of students will provide inspiration for many more.
The holidays are an excellent reason to relax the schedule without losing the educational opportunities that abound.