Category Archives: Lesson Plans

Celebrating Halloween Around the World

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 celebrate?

Also called Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, Halloween is observed in various countries every year on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. Devoted to deceased souls including martyrs, saints (hallows), and faithful departed worshippers, the festival starts with a three-day religious observance and ends with evening prayer. Many scholars believe that the celebration of “All Hallows’ Eve” developed from Celtic harvest festivals, whereas others contend that it originated independently of Samhain (the Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season). Early traditions included carving jack-o’-lanterns out of turnips or winter squash, and wearing costumes to ward off evil spirits.

In the 19th century, mass transatlantic immigration popularized Halloween in the United States and Canada. Gradually, commemorating Halloween expanded to places including South America, Australia, New Zealand and continental Europe.

How people celebrate Halloween differs from country to country. In Scotland and Ireland, children dress up traditional costumes, host parties, light bonfires, and enjoy fireworks. In Brittany, France, lighting candles in skulls in graveyards is a popular tradition. In some countries, people attend church services and light candles on the graves of the dead. In other parts of the world, these solemn traditions are less popular and people are more focused on wearing costumes, attending parties, and “trick or treating.”

When preparing for Halloween parties, teach students about the origins of the holiday and some of the unique traditions in other countries. You also can use it as an opportunity to teach about related holidays, such as Mexico’s El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a three day celebration that begins on October 31st. Consider having some of your students talk about any similar holidays in their home country or asking older students to do research on how Halloween is celebrated in another part of the world.

Make the fun multicultural!

For additional suggestions on celebrating global traditions in Autumn with your children and students, please see our earlier blog post: Traditions Around the World: Celebrate Autumn.

For more information on how Halloween is celebrated in other countries, you can visit the following sites:

–       www.novareinna.com/festive/world.html

–       www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org/halloweenglobal.php

Share how you celebrate Halloween by commenting below.

(photo credit: hin255)

Chinese New Year: Lessons to Help Children Appreciate Cultural and Linguistic Diversity

chinese new year bilingual children books

Chinese New Year is almost here! Chinese families around the world are already celebrating this exciting event which lasts for fifteen days. The celebration begins on the night of a new moon and culminates with the Lantern Festival, a celebration that takes place under the light of the full moon. Families join together in the streets carrying lighted lanterns to create a beautiful light display.

Before the Chinese New Year begins, homes are cleaned from top to bottom. The goal is to sweep out ill fortune and encourage the good fortune of the new year to enter. The evening of Chinese New Year is a big event celebrated with traditional feasting and ending with a fireworks display. Each of the fifteen days of Chinese New Year has a special significance: friends and families share traditional feasts, honor ancestors and deities, exchange gifts, visit extended family members, give children red envelopes with good luck money, and enjoy traditional music and special celebrations.

To share this wonderful event with your students, we encourage you to download our free Chinese New Year lesson plan which takes students on a journey through the Chinese New Year by utilizing geography, crafts and discussion. Continue reading Chinese New Year: Lessons to Help Children Appreciate Cultural and Linguistic Diversity

5 Tips to Help Bilingual Children Shine in the Classroom

Back-to-school sales line the aisles of supermarkets and drug stores; children roam department stores picking out new fall clothes; and parents rush around with check-lists of items their children will need in the coming weeks and months.

Yes, the school year is about to begin.

For bilingual children, this time of year may feel a little daunting, especially for those who will be starting school for the very first time. In addition to all of the feelings that many students face on their first day of school (nervousness about what the teacher may be like, excitement about meeting new friends, concerns about what will be expected), bilingual children may have additional worries: Will they fit it? Will their English language skills be up to par. Will they understand everything that the teacher says? Will other students make fun of them because of their accent?

For teachers who are not used to working with bilingual children, there may be an assumption that to help these bilingual children feel comfortable in the classroom they will need extra attention. This may very well be the case, but if it is not done with care it can backfire. A bilingual child who already feels out of place may feel even more so if a teacher ends up giving him too much special attention. What a bilingual child may want the most is to have the chance to fit in and to be just like everyone else, not singled out due to special circumstances.

Continue reading 5 Tips to Help Bilingual Children Shine in the Classroom

Bilingual Books in Multicultural Lesson Plans

Reading bilingual books with bilingual children can be a wonderful way to help expand comprehension and vocabulary in more than one language. As you read in Dual Language Books Benefit Bilingual Children, children who can read the same story in more than one language reap many benefits. For example, they can transfer their comprehension and vocabulary of a story read in a stronger language to comprehension and vocabulary in a weaker language.

To help children strengthen their literacy skills even further, bilingual books can be incorporated into lesson plans for teachers to utilize in their classrooms and parents in their homes. Lesson plans provide targeted discussion topics and activities that can help make biliteracy fun and engaging for children. Continue reading Bilingual Books in Multicultural Lesson Plans

A Child’s Place in the World – PART I: Using dual language books as a tool for teaching social studies in elementary school

By guest author: Heather Leaman

Elementary schools in the United States typically use the expanding environments approach to teach social studies in grades K-5. Under this curriculum plan, children learn about self and family in Kindergarten and first grade. In second and third grade, children learn about neighborhood and community. As they progress through the upper elementary grades, children expand their understanding of the world by learning about states and the nation.

During the past decade, the National Council for Social Studies has suggested that children’s learning be extended beyond our country to include an understanding of the world. Publishing companies have responded to this initiative by creating materials that help children learn about themselves in relation to the world. Using this worldview, students in primary grades learn about families, neighborhoods and communities globally. In upper elementary grades, children learn about their state and nation in relation to other states and other countries. This movement provides children the opportunity to connect to their world. Continue reading A Child’s Place in the World – PART I: Using dual language books as a tool for teaching social studies in elementary school