In the West, we call it the Chinese New Year. In the East, they most commonly refer to it as the Spring Festival ( 春节 ). Whichever way you choose to say it, this celebration will take place from Tuesday, February 1, 2022, until Tuesday, February 15, 2022. At Language Lizard, we put together a lesson plan to pair with our bilingual book, Li’s Chinese New Year.
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Creating Community in Your Classroom
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
Ramadan in the Classroom & At Home
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.
Samira’s Eid is currently available with English and your choice of the following languages: Arabic, Bengali, Farsi, French, Kurdish, Panjabi, Somali, Turkish, and Urdu.
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!
Bilingual Children and the First Days of School
Starting school for the first time can be both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience for a young bilingual child. Aside from possible language barriers, cultural differences may often play a role. Things that are done in the classroom often do not match what a child is used to at home and this can make a bilingual child feel especially uncomfortable and insecure.
It is important to give bilingual children a lot of time to get used to the classroom setting. Although this is true for all children coming to school for the first time, for bilingual children there are some unique elements which can help them transition more successfully.
Below are tips to make the transition go more smoothly for bilingual students in your classroom:
Continue reading Bilingual Children and the First Days of School
Chinese New Year: Lessons to Help Children Appreciate Cultural and Linguistic Diversity
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