Today, teachers need to provide welcoming and inclusive educational environments for their diverse student populations. By building culturally responsive classrooms, all students develop a greater understanding of, and respect for, diverse cultures, enhancing community in the classroom. A new book helps educators embrace multiculturalism in their classrooms with lesson plans, games, and fun diversity activities.Continue reading Celebrate Diversity in the Classroom with Lessons & Activities in New Teacher’s Manual
We have partnered up with our friends at West Chester University to bring you 4 new multicultural lesson plans that focus on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) skills. Access these free lesson plans, and many more, to help bring more multicultural learning to your classroom. (Special thanks to Seán Gleasure for his assistance on the lesson plans.)Continue reading 4 New (Free!) Lesson Plans – Social & Emotional Learning
Chinese New Year begins on Tuesday, February 5, 2019. It’s a special time to honor ancestors and renew family bonds with traditional rituals and feasts. Also known as Spring Festival, for those who celebrate it, it’s one of the most important social and economic holidays of the year.Continue reading Chinese New Year – A Multicultural Holiday
We’ve teamed up with our friends at West Chester University to bring you two new lesson plans that bring multicultural education to your classroom! Download the free lesson plans and adapt them to the unique needs of your classroom. Homeschooling parents, use the activities to build literacy skills and explore new languages and cultures with your kids! Continue reading 2 New (Free!) Multicultural Lesson Plans
We’re excited to share new, free multicultural lesson plans you can use to celebrate two fun upcoming holidays:
Holi “Festival of Colors” (March 13, 2017)
Holi [pronounced houli], also known as the Festival of Colors, is a popular springtime festival celebrated in many parts of South Asia and around the world. This festival celebrates the coming of spring and the end of winter. It is also a day to give thanks for a good harvest. It’s a time to forgive and forget, be with your friends and your family, and have a whole lot of fun.
The Holi Festival lasts two days. The first night, there’s a big bonfire that everyone gathers around. The next day is when all the fun begins! Ranwali Holi—as day 2 is called—is the day of colors. People, old and young, friends and strangers, carry spritzers and balloons filled with colored water, and they spray each other until everyone is multi‐colored and beautiful.
World Folktales and Fables Week (March 19-25, 2017)
World Folktales and Fables Week is dedicated to encouraging children and adults to explore the lessons and cultural background of folktales, fables, myths and legends from around the world.
Reading world folktales and fables is not only a wonderful way to entertain and bond with children, it is also an effective way to educate them. The stories in classic folklore offer both social lessons as well as an opportunity to teach about cultures and languages. Be sure to enjoy a good folktale in your classroom or home!
Celebrate with Free Lesson Plans & Discount
It’s easy to download these lessons, along with other multicultural lesson plans that you can use throughout the year!
As a special bonus for World Folktales & Fables Week 2017, Language Lizard is offering a 10% discount on the following bilingual folktales and fables available in English with multiple other languages: Buri and the Marrow, The Crow King, The Dragon’s Tears, Goose Fables, Lion Fables and Yeh Hsien: A Chinese Cinderella.
Simply enter coupon code FABLES2017 to receive the discount (valid through March 31, 2017).
To celebrate World Folktales and Fables Week, check out these blog posts for great ideas you can use in the classroom and at home:
“Holi Celebrations” by wonker via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/4CL6qE
It’s the start of a new school year, and your classroom fills with a brand new kaleidoscope of personalities. You may find yourself wondering how to help an eclectic group of kids connect with each other. How do you bring your class together as a community, and jump start the conversation and collaboration? You want to create a safe, secure and nurturing learning environment for all children – an especially challenging task when they come from diverse backgrounds.
Although it may sound a bit counter-intuitive, one of the best ways to create a sense of community is by celebrating individuality. Kids love to see themselves reflected in the classroom. As discussed in our recent post about understanding and appreciating cultural differences in the classroom, when kids contrast and compare family holidays and traditions without judgment, respect and acceptance begins. Reading world folk tales and fables is a great way to explore new traditions from various cultures.
The Concept of Community
You may want to begin by exploring the concept of a community with your class. Yes, it’s a group of people who share something in common, but there are so many less obvious aspects, particularly in a classroom setting. Language Lizard offers a free standards-based lesson plan that teaches students all about the concept of community: What is it, why is it important to have one, and what makes a community stronger?
Sarah Brown Wessling, 2010 National Teacher of the Year and the Teacher Laureate for Teaching Channel, talks about the importance of creating “classroom chemistry” in a blog article, which she describes as the moment when a “certain group of students auspiciously find each other in a classroom.” She discusses 14 ways to create it with your students, and the important role that good chemistry plays in keeping students engaged in the classroom. For another in-depth look at the importance of building a classroom community, check out The Center for the Collaborative Classroom’s Child Development Project, which offers more activity ideas and supporting research.
Predictable, Nurturing Classroom Environment
A classroom that is not just functional, but also comfortable and comforting, encourages learning. Things like lighting, temperature, desk spacing, and a comfy reading corner are physically comforting. A predictable daily routine is emotionally comforting, as are clearly defined rules for classroom behavior. This article from Edutopia discusses how the use of daily trust-building activities can create a support system in your classroom.
What are some ways you create an outstanding community in your classroom? Comment below and share your experiences!
“Teamwork and team spirit” by 드림포유 via Flickr is licensed under CC BY ND 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/o4ZHuD
“Individuality” by Joey Gannon via Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/HGRhB
“Team.” by Dawn (Willis) Manser via Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/6oaunE
Every classroom is a different potpourri of personalities and abilities that will mix, mesh or sometimes clash. Teachers want to effectively engage every one of their students, and parents want to ensure their kids will be both accepting and accepted.
Preparing for Your Multicultural & Bilingual Classroom
How can we make our multicultural classrooms welcoming to all students, and instill an appreciation for diversity in our kids? In a previous post, we looked at different multicultural resources that can be woven right into existing lesson plans, and the many benefits they bring to all students. In other posts, we offered a checklist of essential items and tips to help teachers prepare their classrooms for bilingual students.
Culturally Responsive Instruction
In his blog post, author and educator Matthew Lynch discusses culturally responsive instruction in depth. Its aim is “to teach students that differences in viewpoint and culture are to be cherished and appreciated rather than judged and feared.” The primary goal is to demonstrate that all people, regardless how different they may appear on the surface, have so much in common and that every person and culture deserves respect. Lynch discusses the many ways teachers can promote an environment of respect for cultural diversity, in particular the importance of studying multicultural role models in the classroom.
Free Lesson Plan: Understanding & Appreciating Cultural Differences
Teachers are always looking for new ways to bring more multicultural education to the classroom, while meeting Common Core Standards. As part of a project with student teachers in the Elementary Education Teacher Preparation program at West Chester University, the Language Lizard site offers free, creative units of instruction for use in grades K-5. The lesson plan entitled “Understanding and Appreciating Cultural Differences” helps students appreciate how people are different and similar, not just within the classroom, but around the world. They will learn about diverse languages, cultures and traditions in the US and in other countries. This unit of instruction is easily aligned with state and national standards in Social Studies and Language Arts. The main books used in these lessons include: That’s My Mum, Floppy, and Floppy’s Friends written in: Gujarati, Portuguese, Turkish and English. Each of these titles is available in many other languages that can be substituted for, or used in addition to, the dual languages presented here.
Parents and teachers alike are encouraged to download our free multicultural lesson plans to utilize at home and in the classroom. Each unit indicates which books are included, the target grade level(s), the primary languages, and the key topics covered. The units can be implemented as designed or adapted to meet the needs of a particular student body or grade level. Languages introduced in the lessons can be changed to better reflect their own diverse households and communities.
By preparing ahead of time, you will ensure this year will progress more smoothly and comfortably for you and your unique and diverse classroom.
What challenges have you faced in your multicultural classroom, and what solutions have worked for you? Comment below and share your experiences!
“The Sign Says” by Ryan via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/99jT3G
“2012-226 My New Teacher Desk” by Denise Krebs via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/cRiZjJ
The Muslim holiday of Ramadan is the 9th and most sacred month in the Islamic calendar. Traditionally, it’s a time of fasting from sun up to sun down each day. Children aren’t required to fast until they’re teenagers, but may fast for part of the day to help them appreciate the significance of the holiday. Fasting is meant to help Muslims practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy. Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, growth, and religious devotion.
Learning about Ramadan: Lesson Plan & Storybook
Language Lizard offers a free, standards-based lesson plan that introduces students to Muslim customs and cultures, new languages and texts, and promotes acceptance of diversity. The lesson plan pairs with the bilingual storybook Samira’s Eid. Samira and her family get a surprise visitor during Ramadan who brings a special gift for them. The story teaches kids about the holiday’s traditions, and the meaning behind them, through Samira’s eyes.
Receive a 10% discount on the book Samira’s Eid now through July 17, 2015! Simply enter Coupon Code Eid2015 during checkout. Samira’s Eid is currently available with English and your choice of the following languages: Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Farsi, French, Kurdish, Panjabi and Somali.
Experience the Food of Ramadan
Each night at sunset, families gather for the fast-breaking meal known as iftar. Get in the spirit by trying some traditional dishes served at iftar with your classroom or family. One quick and easy dessert that the kids can help make, and will love to eat, is this traditional mango, pistachio and cream dessert.
Ramadan Arts & Crafts Projects
Ramadan can also be a time of beautiful decorations. Lanterns, in particular, have become symbolic of the holiday. Kids can make simple paper crafts, including lanterns, or try out more complex projects like this drum.
Online Ramadan Resources for Kids
Find kid-friendly Ramadan photos online to look through together, and discuss how Ramadan is experienced by the littlest Muslims. The PBS Kids website offers a free, interactive book about Ramadan and its traditions. Or check out this multilingual Ramadan poster that includes illustrations of the call to prayer, fasting, sharing an evening meal, and family time.
Will you be learning about Ramadan with your classroom or family? Share your ideas by commenting below!
Many educators successfully use multicultural resources to teach their students about other cultures and to make their classrooms more welcoming for a diverse student body. However, some teachers may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of adding “multicultural education” to their expanding list of things to do. They often are already dealing with new testing requirements, changing core standards, and other demands. They struggle with ways to make their classrooms more multicultural while meeting all of their other teaching objectives.
Incorporating multicultural education into the curriculum should not be considered an “additional” task; rather, with the right tools and resources, educators can integrate a multicultural element into existing lesson plans.
Benefits of Multicultural Resources in the Classroom
Using multicultural and multilingual resources in the classroom can enhance and support core standards, and can have the following benefits:
- It makes the classroom more welcoming for students from different countries because they see their own culture and language reflected in the lessons.
- It builds self-esteem and instills in multi-ethnic students a sense of pride about their heritage.
- It provides all students a chance to learn about other cultures and languages, which can help them succeed globally and in our diverse communities.
- It offers an opportunity to involve parents from diverse cultures in the classroom.
- If students are allowed to bring multilingual materials home, it promotes literacy at home and enhances parental involvement, both of which improve school success.
Below are just a few suggestions on how to incorporate a multicultural element into already-established lessons that may give you some new ideas or thoughts on the topic.
Cultural Holidays and Festivals
Teaching about holidays and festivals is an excellent way to introduce diverse cultures to your students. While studying different holidays, children can cover important concepts such as “comparing and contrasting,” and the learning can bridge over to art, math, and other subjects.
For example, when studying Thanksgiving, consider reading Samira’s Eid and comparing and contrasting our celebration of thanks with the Islamic celebrations of Eid and Ramadan. During the winter holidays, a book such as Marek and Alice’s Christmas shows how Christmas is celebrated in Poland. In learning about how other cultures celebrate familiar holidays, children begin to understand traditions from other parts of the world. Children can draw Venn diagrams to share what they have learned.
Other important holidays can be discussed as they occur throughout the year. You can use Deepak’s Diwali to teach about the major Hindu holiday Diwali (the Indian Festival of Lights). When teaching about Diwali, speak to the art teacher about having the children design their own Rangoli patterns. Students also could review the Rangoli patterns in math class when they are learning about symmetry.
Students can learn about Chinese New Year in the book Li’s Chinese New Year. In art class during this time, they can make masks with a sign of the zodiac (instructions about how to make the mask are included in the book). Older children can work in teams to do additional research on international holidays and festivals and then come together to present their work.
Dental Health and Hygiene
Many schools periodically have a dentist come to discuss dental hygiene. Including a reading of The Wibbly Wobbly Tooth is a great way to add a multicultural element to such a lesson. This story depicts a child of Asian heritage trying to figure out what to do with a tooth that just came out. In it, he talks to friends from all different cultures to find out what they do when a tooth falls out. This opens up an opportunity for you to ask your students from other countries to share their family’s traditions.
The dental health lesson could also include a bilingual version of Sahir Goes to the Dentist, ideally choosing a language edition spoken by kids in the class. Not only will students read about a child’s visit to the dentist, they will see a language/text that is represented in their class or community.
Community, Cooperation and Teamwork
In the bilingual book The Giant Turnip, school children work together to plant a garden and then have to figure out how to remove a giant turnip that grows there. In the end, they are successful only after they have brainstormed ideas and have all worked cooperatively.
This is, of course, a great book to use when doing units about planting and growing a garden. But it is also an excellent tool for discussing themes of community, cooperation and teamwork. For example, it can be used as an introduction to the concept of “community.” What is a community? Why is it important? Similarities and differences within a community, and how differences in a community can help it operate better.
Students can discuss the diverse makeup of their own communities and even how their classroom community can be more united. Older students can research different communities around the world, comparing and contrasting similarities and differences. The book can also be used to reinforce concepts of cooperation and teamwork: how people need to work together to achieve a common goal.
Folk Tales and Fables
When teaching a unit on folk tales, include bilingual folk tales from around the world in the lesson. You can introduce the concepts of “good versus evil,” the importance of cooperation, and the rewards of courage and ingenuity, while simultaneously introducing other cultures and languages. Some great stories to consider are: Yeh-Hsien (A Chinese Cinderella); the Bengali folk tale Buri and the Marrow; the beautiful Chinese story The Dragon’s Tears; and the Tibetan Fable “The Hare’s Revenge” (part of Lion Fables).
For younger children who are learning to count, consider reading a book such as Handa’s Hen, in which young Handa is looking for her chicken and encounters many other animals and insects along the way. Set in Africa, children will see settings and animals that may be new to them (e.g., five beautiful sunbirds, eight spoonbills). By pointing out different languages in the bilingual books, children also can see the different language scripts, thus expanding their view of the world. In addition, using multilingual number cards when learning numbers will allow children from non-English speaking homes to see their languages represented in class.
The Five Senses
Welcome to the World Baby is a wonderful multicultural book to share with children who are learning about the five senses. It is especially exciting to use in class when a student has a new baby sibling. In the story, Tariq has a new baby brother and the children in his multicultural classroom share how they welcome new babies in their families. Each example relates to one of the five senses (e.g., they can touch An-Mei’s red painted egg, which stands for birth, life and growth, and is the color of good luck; they can taste Elima’s bitter aloe leaf and sweet honey, which represents that life can be bitter and sweet). Again, this offers a chance for children from multicultural households to share their own traditions.
These are just a few of many examples of how multicultural and multilingual stories can be used to bring a global perspective to existing lessons and make multi-ethnic children feel better represented in the classroom. For more details and additional lessons that incorporate multicultural stories, please see the free multicultural lesson plans on our website. Share your own multicultural teaching ideas by commenting below!
This article originally appeared in Language Lizard’s Culture Connection Newsletter. To receive this newsletter, please sign up here.
Photo “SAD_Hortons_Kids 114” by US Department of Education via Flickr, licensed under CC By 2.0.
This year, World Folk Tales and Fables Week is from March 16 through March 22. It’s a week dedicated to encouraging children and adults to explore the lessons and cultural background of folk tales, fables, myths and legends from around the world.
Reading folk tales is a great way for children to explore different cultures and enhance literacy skills. Learn more about why kids love folk tales and fables in a previous blog post that discusses why folk tales are such a great teaching tool for kids.
A folk tale is any story that has been passed down through generations by a group of people. A fable, one type of folk tale, is a short story that teaches a lesson, often features talking animals, and is directed particularly at children. The most well known creator of fables is Aesop, a Greek slave believed to have lived around 560 BC. Some of his most popular fables are “The Tortoise and the Hare,” “The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg,” and “The Lion and the Mouse.” There are also more modern-day fables, like Dr. Seuss‘s The Lorax.
Resources for Teachers & Parents
If you’d like to introduce your class or family to folk tales, but aren’t sure where to begin, Language Lizard offers a series of blog posts dedicated to international folk tale characters. There, you can get an overview of characters from around the world, like the Monkey King from China, and Finn McCool of Ireland.
One of our favorite stories, the Bengali folk tale Buri and the Marrow, is used in the lesson plan entitled “Language, Customs, Culture in India,” which can be downloaded at no cost from our website. Don’t hesitate to use any of our lesson plans to help you explore different cultures and folk tales with your students.
Or try another great folk tale, Yeh-Hsien: A Chinese Cinderella. This Chinese version of Cinderella is similar to, yet delightfully different from, the more recognized European or Disney interpretations of the story. Children will be inspired by Yeh-Hsien, a strong character who takes her destiny into her own hands.
We also offer the Myths and Legends collection (Pandora’s Box, Isis and Osiris, Beowulf, The Children of Lir), which can be a good starting point for older children to explore various cultures and classic stories.
We hope you have an exciting World Folk Tales and Fables Week, exploring new characters, adventures and cultures from far away lands!
Get 10% off two entertaining world folk tales – Buri and the Marrow and Yeh-Hsien: A Chinese Cinderella – by entering Coupon Code FOLKTALE2015 at checkout! This discount is valid now through March 31, 2015.
Comment below and share with us your favorite folk tales and fables!