As the final page of the yearly calendar is turned, the countdown to vacation begins and excitement for the last day builds. School calendars term the time off as winter break, but when celebrations take place, they often turn into activities revolving around a singular holiday, Christmas. The diverse learner sitting before us often come from equally diverse backgrounds and cultures. With a little planning, it’s easy to turn the holiday festivities into more inclusive celebrations. Here are 3 ways to make that happen.
- Make It about Giving – Take the time that may typically be slated for a holiday celebration and make a lasting impact on the community instead. Have students pen letters to the troops or craft decorations for a nursing home. Conduct a donation drive earlier in the month and spend the time sorting and boxing items for a local food pantry or shelter. Diversity doesn’t just span religious and cultural fronts. Occupations, age, and socioeconomic status are just a few of the other differences to be found amongst community members. Having students be a part of bringing joy to others can demonstrate the true holiday spirit.
- Holiday Walk – Working with teachers from other classrooms, select a different December celebration for each participating classroom (e.g., Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Dongzhi Festival, Boxing Day). On the day of the Holiday Walk, each classroom is responsible for sharing information about the holiday assigned (e.g., background & traditional activities, snack, game, music). Students do a holiday walk and rotate through each classroom to enjoy a brief glimpse of a variety of holiday traditions. This could also be modified for a single classroom by making it a research activity for groups of students that then rotate through different stations in the room.
- Unique Traditions – Add a little intrigue to the typical holiday celebrations by highlighting some of the unique ways Christmas is observed in different locations. Take a list of traditions from around the world and make a matching game or activity. Talk about the different locations and how/why a particular tradition may be found in that particular corner of the world. Would students be up for trying piruk, the fish pie served in Alaska? Couple thoughts of that tasty dish with these 15 other unique celebratory traditions, and students will start thinking about how diverse a single holiday can be!
December activities don’t have to revolve around red hats and evergreens. By placing the focus on diversity, students are given an opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of activities and traditions through unique learning opportunities. As their understanding of the world around them grows, so will their acceptance of others.
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