The holiday season is a magical time for K-6 classrooms, filled with wonder and excitement. However, it’s also a time when creating an inclusive classroom environment becomes crucial. In many primary classrooms, we are teaching holidays around the world during the month of December. More than ever, it’s essential to ensure that all students, regardless of their cultural or religious backgrounds, feel respected and valued during this festive time of year. In this blog post, we’ll share three practical tips for creating an inclusive classroom during the holidays.
Tip #1 for an Inclusive Classroom: Teaching Holidays Around the World (But Don’t Call It Christmas Around the World)
One way to foster inclusivity during the holiday season is by exploring and learning about various celebrations from around the world. While it’s a fantastic opportunity to educate students about different cultures and traditions, it’s essential to avoid the common mistake of labeling it as “Christmas Around the World.”
Instead, tell them you are teaching “Holidays Around the World” to include various festivals celebrated in December. Encourage your students to explore traditions like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, and more. Share stories, customs, and activities associated with these holidays. This not only broadens their cultural horizons but also reinforces the importance of diversity and respect.
Tip #2 for an Inclusive Classroom: Don’t Display Holiday-Specific Items (Unless You Know for Sure All Students Celebrate)
While decorating the classroom, it’s vital to be mindful of the items you display. Avoid showcasing holiday-specific decorations unless you are certain that all your students celebrate that particular holiday. Instead, focus on more neutral winter-themed decorations like snowflakes, gingerbread, and other symbols associated with the season.
This approach ensures that no student feels excluded or uncomfortable due to their different beliefs or backgrounds. It also promotes a warm, welcoming, and festive atmosphere that everyone can enjoy.
You can craft engaging lessons, projects, and activities based on these themes. For example, study the science of snowflakes, learn about the fascinating wildlife in the Arctic, or delve into the history of gingerbread houses. This allows you to celebrate the season without excluding any student, regardless of their background.
Tip #3 for an Inclusive Classroom: Bring in as many visitors to speak about traditions as possible
If you have parents, families, other teachers, or community members who would be willing to come in and teach your class about their customs and holiday traditions, this is one of the best and most authentic ways to celebrate all people in your classroom. You can ask one person to come in every week in December or have one special learning day where you invite multiple speakers in!
Creating an inclusive classroom during the holidays is all about fostering a sense of belonging and respect for every student, regardless of their background or beliefs. By following these three tips, you can ensure that the holiday season is an enriching and inclusive experience for all.
Tip #4 for an Inclusive Classroom: Teach About Traditions By Country
Pull down your map and dust off your globe, because “traveling” around the world is one of my favorite ways to teach about different traditions and customs while maintaining an inclusive environment. It’s important for students to understand the world around them and know that not every child is just like them. By honing in on specific geographic locations and learning how they celebrate holidays, it creates a connection that is meaningful and enlightening. I have a set of 12 Days of Holidays Around the World slides that teach about winter holidays in Canada, Italy, France, Germany, Netherlands, Mexico, Sweden, the United States, Brazil, Australia, England, and Russia. You can check them out here. I also have a detailed post written about how to use them: How to Use Winter Holiday Traditions Around the World Slides.
To help you in this endeavor, we’ve created a free Winter Holiday Passport, complete with fun and educational activities that align with the tips mentioned. Additionally, you can download passport stickers to mark your progress as you explore the world of winter traditions and celebrations. Let’s make this holiday season a time of learning, sharing, and inclusivity for all our students. Download your free resources and get started today!
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