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Lesson Plans
Winter Holidays for Everyone

The students in your class may be a diverse group from many cultures who celebrate various holidays with their own customs. One of the best ways to teach children to respect others with different traditions is to help them learn and appreciate their own traditions while learning how other cultures celebrate the holidays. The winter holidays provide an excellent opportunity for teaching children respect for and appreciation of other cultural traditions.

The goal of this lesson plan is to learn more about the winter holidays and how children around the world celebrate them.  

Materials:

  • 1 large white candle and lighter on a fire-safe metal tray, or a battery-operated candle
  • Art supplies: construction paper, markers, crayons, colored pencils, glitter
  • The Lion and the Mouse” song from the Building Blocks music CD
    Note: This song can be downloaded onto a CD or be played from your computer.

Preparation:
Set aside a day for a winter celebration, and invite parents and others to come in and share traditional holiday foods, games, and songs. If you have many volunteers, you may want to extend the winter celebration over several days to accommodate the many festive activities and foods.

Procedure:

  1. On your winter celebration day, gather the students together and ask them to share the holidays that their families celebrate and the traditions that they practice. List students’ responses on chart paper or a whiteboard. Have students count the many holidays represented.
  2. Invite family members to join the group to share songs, games, foods, and stories that exemplify their families’ traditions. As each tradition is presented, have students talk about how it is alike and how it is different from their own traditions.
    Note: If you are unable to find families who can come in and share their traditions, use your school library to find holiday books in order to introduce new customs to your students.
  3. After the celebration, talk about the ways that many of the holiday traditions include the idea of “light” or “hope.”
  4. Distribute art supplies. Then turn down the lights (do not make the room completely dark), and light the candle or turn on the battery-operated candle. Talk about why light can symbolize hope, and have children talk to you about what hope means. Have students draw and decorate their own “lighted” candles. Ask the volunteer family members to go around the room and have students dictate to them what their “hope” is for themselves, their families, their friends, and others. The volunteers will write down the children’s ideas and words.
  5. Share the students’ pictures and hopes in a large bulletin board display entitled “Our Hope for the Holidays.”

Going Further:

  • Play “The Lion and the Mouse” song from the Building Blocks music CD for the class. Have the children sing along with the chorus. Afterward, ask the children to talk about the differences between a lion and a mouse. Then have students talk about how the animals are alike. Finally, ask the students to explain how the lion and the mouse became friends and learned to respect each other’s differences. Ask, “What does ‘Treat others as you’d have others treat you’ mean to you?”

Resources
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Building Blocks for a Healthy Future
The Lion and the Mouse” is a fun and interactive song that gives children an opportunity to imagine how different types of animals can eventually be friends.  

KidsHealth
Teaching  Your Child Tolerance” supplies parents and caregivers with information and tips about teaching young children to be tolerant. 

National Association for the Education of Young Children
Q  & A with the authors of Anti-Bias Education” presents a list of questions and answers to parents and caregivers about environments that are inclusive, nurturing, and tolerant.

National Geographic for Kids
Winter Celebrations” provides teachers with information and ideas for discussing how children around the world celebrate the winter holidays.

The Scholastics website provides numerous ways for parents and teachers to work with children on developing tolerance and showing respect to others:

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Updated on 12/20/2013