In my combined first and second grade, in December we did not avoid learning about each other’s religion and whatever other winter holiday a classmate celebrated in their home. This always included Hanukah and sometimes Divali from India. Likenesses of various religions, such as using candles for light and exchanging gifts, plus the differences were explored. Every child made a craft appropriate for each holiday along with presentations and books read both about our holidays and other mid-winter holidays around the world. It was a glitter Christmas tree ornament or molded clay candle holder for Christmas, and a dreidel for Hanukah (a dreidel pattern with directions are in Appendix W) followed by learning and playing the game of Dreidel.
Special crafts were brought in by mothers of any other religions. Children and parents participated in presentations about their religion. The purpose of learning about various religions was not to celebrate any in school but to understand others’ rights and beliefs, so hopefully in the future the children would be kind and accepting of many others. Parents were very helpful and supportive of this approach, but occasionally a Jewish parent would point out that Hanukah was not a major Jewish holiday. My answer was that no one could avoid Christmas in the community, and my explanation about using Christmas, Hanukah, and other winter holidays as an example for understanding and accepting others resolved the issue.
Learn more about the programs in my book, Early Childhood Programs: Opportunities for Academic, Cognitive, and Personal Success. Included is a web site where programs and activities can be downloaded for use in a classroom. Also, see 7 reviews on www.amazon.com
Teaching Young Children © Peggy Broadbent 2011 - All Rights Reserved