little hands making heart over earth drawing

Bring cultural diversity and international flavor to your Thanksgiving with these five easy kid crafts. The best part? They can all be made with materials you probably already have. Plus, they involve minimal mess and are simple enough for most kids to complete on their own. (You can also check out our previous posts for ways to celebrate a bilingual Thanksgiving, at home or in the classroom.)

Thanksgiving: Here and Around the World

The first Thanksgiving was an occasion for people to gather together and celebrate a good harvest. Most cultures around the world have harvest celebrations, though not always in November. (Abraham Lincoln was actually the first US president to propose an official Thanksgiving holiday in our country. You can read more about Thanksgiving history here.) Harvest celebrations coincide with a country’s seasons and the kind of crop they are harvesting.

Thanksgiving Crafts Inspired By Multicultural Traditions

1. India: Pongal – Kolam Chalk Drawings

Kolam phot By Benedict (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Photo by Benedict via Wikimedia Commons

Kolam photo By Vishnu.116 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsPhoto by Vishnu.116 via Wikimedia Commons

Pongal, the harvest festival of Southern India, is celebrated in January or February. It celebrates the successful harvest of rice, sugar cane and tumeric. Kolam drawings are traditionally symmetrical and placed in front of doors. These drawings are believed to bring happiness and prosperity. For this activity, you just need some colored chalk and clear weather outside.

2. Israel: Sukkot – CD SuncatcherSukkot CD suncatcher diversity craft

The festival of Sukkot, celebrated in September or October, is a time to remember the culture’s agricultural roots. The holiday centers around a special kind of dwelling called a “sukkah,” which has a roof of organic material, like palm leaves. The inside of the sukkah is strung with bright, shiny decorations. Make this craft with old, scratched CDs, and anything shiny and colorful you have on hand.

3. Vietnam: Mid-Autumn Festival – Lanternsmid-autumn festival lantern diversity craftmid-autumn festival lantern cultural diversity

The Mid-Autumn Festival on August 15th celebrates a successful harvest and also honors children. Kids get special lanterns and take part in a parade. Our lanterns are made from paper and tape, and can inspire your own kids’ parade at home!

4. Portugal: Madeira Flower Festival – Headbands and Hatsmadeira hat multicultural craftmadeira hat instructions international craft

The Madeira Flower Festival takes place in the Spring, when flowers are abloom. The festival features a parade with floats and flowers everywhere, especially worn on clothing. Kids can make flowers out of any material you have: gift wrap, kleenex, colored paper, paper towels, or scraps of fabric. The flowers can be secured with pipe cleaner, tape, yarn, or rubber bands onto headbands, hats, belts or any article of clothing. If the weather is nice, the kids can have a parade, in true Flower Festival spirit.

5. United Kingdom: Harvest Festival – Corn Husk DollsUK Harvest Doll multicultural craftharvest doll instructions diversity craft

The UK’s Harvest Festival happens in September or October, and includes singing and decorating churches with baskets of food. One traditional harvest time craft is making corn husk dolls. Since I didn’t have corn husks on hand, I used scraps of fabric. Once completed, kids can make hair from yarn and clothes from felt.

Give these crafts a try this Thanksgiving, and add some multicultural traditions to your celebration. That’s one more wonderful thing to be thankful for!

New (Free) Lesson Plans Support Multicultural Education

by languagelizard November 11, 2014 classroom

Just when you’re looking for new ways to bring more multicultural education to the classroom while meeting the Common Core Standards, we are thrilled to announce that we have another wonderful lesson plan to share, created by our friends at West Chester University. This newest unit uses two popular and beautifully-illustrated books, Handa’s Hen and Handa’s Surprise, to […]

Read the full article…

Congratulations to Winner of $100 Bilingual Book Grant

by languagelizard November 5, 2014 Giveaways

Thanks to all those who entered Language Lizard’s $100 Bilingual Book Giveaway! Congratulations to our winner Robin Vander Groef from NORWESCAP Head Start in Newton, NJ!  Robin is planning to use the funds to buy books for use in the Head Start classrooms.  She is interested in bilingual children’s books in Spanish, Chinese and Urdu, […]

Read the full article…

Celebrating Halloween Around the World

by languagelizard October 22, 2014 At Home

Kids love Halloween: the costumes, the candy, the parties! The excitement and holiday spirit surrounding Halloween provide an ideal opportunity to inject some multicultural education into the mix. We know that American children don costumes, carve pumpkins and go trick or treating, but where did this holiday start and what do other countries do to […]

Read the full article…

Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month – $100 Grant Available!

by languagelizard October 1, 2014 At Home

photo credit: Katherine Dykstra @flickr.com October is “Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month”! To help you celebrate, Language Lizard is offering a $100 Gift Certificate for Bilingual Children’s Books! Books are available in over 40 languages and it’s easy to enter. Simply go towww.LanguageLizard.com/bilingual-book-grant-2014.htm to submit the form for entry.  And don’t forget to let your favorite teachers […]

Read the full article…

International Folktale Character: Curupira

by languagelizard September 10, 2014 International Folktale Characters

What’s that awful squeaking noise? Oh, you can hear that too? It’s just Curupira. Annoying, right? And what, may I ask, is a Curupira?  Not a what – a who. His name means “child’s body” or “covered in blisters”, depending on which Tupi-speaker you ask. Back up. Tupi? Yeah, it’s a family of languages spoken […]

Read the full article…

The Same but Different: Another Way of Looking at Book Sharing

by languagelizard August 26, 2014 At Home

photo credit: Mary Ann @ flickr.com “Come here, little huggy bear!” “Are you ready for bed, my little coconut candy?” “Let’s put your coat on, my flea!” If you’ve ever used any of these terms of endearment with a child, English probably isn’t your first language! And if English is your first language, you probably […]

Read the full article…

New Giveaway: Read to Me!

by languagelizard August 8, 2014 Families

Would you like to receive a free reading guide for young children? The Read to Me! Program in Nova Scotia, Canada recently put together a wonderful month-to-month Guide to Reading with Your Baby in the First Year.  Each month gives information about a baby’s development, tips, recommended books, and rhymes.  And the guide is even provided […]

Read the full article…

5 (Fun!) Ideas to Incorporate Language and Cultural Learning into your Family’s Plans this Summer

by languagelizard July 24, 2014 At Home

    photo credits: Jens Nink, Heather West, both @ flickr.com With summer here, many parents have a challenge ahead of them:  keeping kids productively entertained until school starts up again. Whether you or your partner is a stay-at-home parent, or you just want to make the most of these warm, sunny summer nights and […]

Read the full article…

International Folktale Character: Finn McCool

by languagelizard July 8, 2014 International Folktale Characters

photo credit: Mattman4698, Brendan Cullen, both @ flickr.com Name: Finn McCool (or Fionn mac Cumhaill) Age: Roughly 1,414 years – but a good mythological cycle never reveals its real age. Appearance: Handsome, with very light colouring. Also a giant? Maybe. Definitely a big, powerful guy with a big, powerful beard. Oooh, I do love a […]

Read the full article…