Kindergarten classes are exploring the question: How can I learn about others? To answer this, they've explored the holidays and celebrations of different cultures in our community. Guest speakers came to kindergarten to share information, food and background information about a holiday they observe. Students learned about the Hmong New Year, Las Pasadas, Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah, Epiphany, and Indian Harvest Festival and always had plenty of questions. The visits included stories about the origin of the holiday, why it is important to that particular culture, and customary food, toys, clothing and plants. Students then identify elements of each holiday, and compare and contrast to find themes. At the end of the unit, the classes will use this research as a model to create their own celebration about peace using the common themes and elements in world celebrations they’ve discovered.
The Torres Family came in to talk about Las Pasadas, a celebration from Mexico.
Exploring holidays of different cultures alongside more familiar celebrations is a great tool for learning about beliefs and respect. By using a Generate, Sort and Elaborate thinking routine, students can identify common themes, symbols and categories across all of the celebrations. They begin by listing everything they can remember about the holiday presentations, each item on its own sticky note. Miss Hattabaugh’s class remembered using the five senses: What smells do you remember? What sounds? Tastes? What did you see when guests told us about their holidays.
After this exercise, a large body of elements from the celebrations appear, all people, places, things, and even feelings. The next step is to find similarities in the sea of sticky notes and sort. Here, students lead the way by making connections and defending their positions. Should special clothing and dancing go together? Why? Into which category does war fit in? What about the piñata? Sometimes new categories are needed that didn’t seem as apparent in the beginning. Mrs. Kimme’s class found this out when it became clear that one category included each of the holidays, but also things like parties, christmas tree, and color. In the beginning, to group them that way made sense to the class, but after they decided they could split it into two categories, Celebrations and Decorations.
As the unit continues, students will elaborate on the categories they created and begin to shape their own celebration about peace. Now, they have a model for all of the elements of a celebration to consider when thinking about holidays and a deeper understanding of cultural celebrations both different and similar to their own.