This time of year is perfect for celebrating family traditions in the classroom! Celebrating family traditions is a fantastic way to make sure all students get to share about their families. It’s also a great way to show how families are alike and different, all at the same time. When our students get a peek into each other’s lives, they can find commonalities. What a great way to unite our students!
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Traditions and holiday celebrations usually start with families. You can have students bring in a family photo to display in the classroom. It could be a photo of a favorite family tradition, too. This is a great way for students to introduce their families to their friends. You can make cardstock picture frames for students to decorate. Finally, add a writing piece introducing the family members and/or family tradition to tie it all together and display.
One variation I did one year was have everyone make a paper “quilt” square of their family participating in their favorite family tradition. Then we glued them all together and had a great display for everyone to see. Get creative! My students always love getting to see their friends’ families!
Family Traditions in the Classroom
Depending on your state and district, you might be limited on teaching holidays. You might also have students that don’t celebrate any holidays. How can we make sure they are included in discussions this time of year and not isolated? Celebrate traditions! Even if students don’t celebrate any holidays, they still have family traditions to share! It could be a favorite weather-related tradition, weekend tradition, or religious tradition. For example, I did have a student who didn’t celebrate holidays, but every Friday night her family ordered pizza, made popcorn, and watched a movie in sleeping bags. How fun! She could have felt left out of celebrating more common holidays. Instead, she felt special that her family did something so neat every week, and her friends loved it. Our family has a tradition of going to Pine Cove Family Camp each year! Here we are being silly and enjoying our time at camp on a theme night! Teaching family traditions in the classroom do have a place!
I’ve also had teacher friends celebrate family traditions in the classroom by having students bring something concrete to school that represents a family tradition. This could be anything from an activity for the class to do, a game to share, a treat that represents a tradition, or even a family member to “interview” about a tradition. My mom’s side of the family would play this bingo game growing up. She shares the tradition with my kids and they would love to share this with friends at school!
Celebrating family traditions in the classroom helps our students find similarities amongst each other and truly celebrate differences. It helps students build a sense of pride in who they are and where they come from. This is definitely a life lesson that I want my own children to value!
Celebrating Holiday Traditions
If you do get to celebrate holidays, try to include something that represents all of your students. I also like to make sure there are new ones to introduce to them, too. They’re never too young to learn about our world! My favorite way to teach holidays is with books. There are so many wonderful choices for books to teach holidays from across cultures. If you have a student who participates in a holiday or tradition that is less familiar, you might reach out to their parents and ask if they have a favorite children’s book about it, too.
Some great choices for holiday books are:
- The Night Before Christmas by Jan Brett
- The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
- A Christmas Surprise for Chabelita by Argentina Palacios
- The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola
- My First Kwanzaa by Deborah M. Newton Chocolate
- Together for Kwanzaa by Juwanda G. Ford, Shelly Hehenberger
- The Story of Hanukkah by David A. Adler, Jill Weber
- Chanukkah Lights Everywhere by Michael J. Rosen
- The Magic Dreidels by Eric A. Kimmel
I also have a Holidays Around the World Unit that will help you teach your little learners about holidays in an engaging and fun way! I personally needed an easy way to teach Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas. Each holiday unit has sorts, graphic organizers, an emergent reader, flip books, and writing activities. You can see a peek of it in my blog HERE. Head to my store to read more about it and grab your own HERE.
I just love how this time of year seems to bring about extra kindness and respect for others. Fostering this in our little learners just might make a world of difference! I’d love to hear how you celebrate family traditions in the classroom. Leave me a comment and let me know!