We can remember celebrating Christmas as a kid in the 1980s. Our teacher rolled out the TV and we made handmade Santa’s with cotton balls and glitter. We sang holiday songs, made yummy sugar cookies, and ornaments for the parents.
When we were in high school the holidays changed to become more inclusive. When we were in choir, the choir director made sure that we were responsive by including songs representing different faiths and cultures.
In the last few years there has been the debate of “Merry Christmas,” vs. “Happy Holidays,” and holiday cups at Starbucks have even become divisive. The debate has caused some schools to tip toe like a reindeer and cancel holiday concerts and traditions.
As educators and founders of The Teacher Monster club, we believe this is a wonderful time to celebrate representation, mindfulness by preparing culturally responsive instructions for holiday and religious celebrations.
We both currently teach at a school with more than 46 languages and 63 countries representing the student population. The children look forward to the holidays because it’s become a time when we celebrate Diwali, Kwanza, Hanukkah, Las Padas, Christmas, Three Kings, Winter Solstice and more. During this time, it’s important for teachers to share rich cultural content into the lesson plans to expand students’ knowledge and interest in all the cultural groups represented.
There is a focus today on two words, “cultural proficiency.” Instead of dismissing the holidays we need to embrace ALL holidays through a cultural proficient lens.
Children should be learning about ALL holidays. One way to celebrate different cultures is to partner with the music department to plan a sing-along. Educators can easily implement the different holidays through Morning Meeting, read a-louds, virtual field trips, art, geography lessons and much more. It is helpful to connect with your specialist and see how they can include the holidays into the curriculum. You can always have the librarian read stories, the STEM teacher could have the student make their own dreidel or even play a traditional game in PE. Building relationships with your specialist and working as a team is one way you can successfully cover all the holidays.
You can find several picture books, videos, songs and additional resources on the Teacher Monster Club to help you be more culturally responsive during the holidays. We made the materials accessible for educators to easily be able to create a mindful experience. The best resource is the children themselves.
Please feel free to share stories on how your class is celebrating the holidays. We look forward to hearing about how students are taking the lead to be more culturally inclusive.