The holiday season is a perfect time to strengthen the bonds between family and community, taking time to honor cultural traditions that have been passed down through generations.
This month in our Yo Re Mi classes, we are celebrating where we live and where we come from, acknowledging that the ideals that shaped the foundation of this country welcome people of all backgrounds and beliefs to participate in freedom.
“If we know where we came from, we may better know where to go. If we know who we came from, we may better understand who we are.”
Make your holiday multicultural. Invite children to share their family's traditions, songs and activities. Try some of these ideas to explore heritage and home. Here are 3 of our favorite ways to incorporate culture into the classroom:
1. Encourage children to share about their family
Children love to share stories about their family! Last month, we blogged about 3 Steps for Creating Belonging and this is a wonderful way to continue expanding those ideas.
Try this: Globe pass game.
Sit in a circle on the floor. Pass an inflatable earth around the circle using only your feet - no hands! When they get the ball, each person takes a turn saying where their family comes from. You may hear several answers as our parents may come from one place and our grandparents might come from somewhere else. If time allows, find each place on the globe before passing it along.
Observe that we all live on the Earth and are connected even if we come from different places. Ask the children to share ways we can work together to take care of our planet and each other. You can also do this same game and ask each child to share one thing about their family. For example, "I have ___ people in my family" or "In my family, we ___."
2. Incorporate curriculum about different cultures
Explore places, countries and cities the children have named in discussions about where their family comes from. Travel to those places and discover what makes them unique and similar.
Try this: Travel around the world on an airplane.
Ask questions. "What plants and animals live here and what is their habitat?" Do plant and animal yoga poses as a group. "What kinds of structures do people live in?" Make those shapes with your body, perhaps working together in small groups. "What do you do when you visit this place?" Invite the children to invent an adventure or story as a group.
3.. Learn in languages other than English
Discover if any students speak languages other than English at home and create an opportunity for everyone to learn a song together in that language. Learn a song in sign language to blend music and motor skills.
Try this: Sing a familiar song in another language.
One of our favorites is "Frere Jacques." Many of the children will probably already know it in English and French and some children might know it in another language (German, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish, Korean, Sign Language and others).
Some other favorite children's songs related to this theme of home and heritage include "My Street Begins at My House" by Ella Jenkins, "It's a Small World" by Richard and Robert Sherman, and "Circle of the Sun" by Sally Rogers.
Your turn to share - Comment below about your family traditions and how you are sharing those with children this year. We can't wait to hear from you and happy holiday!