Looking to liven up grade 6-12 social studies instruction or add a multicultural element to your class? Want to celebrate diversity by discussing holidays around the world, and not christmas Lesson Ideas | Christmas Present Calculator in December? Expand students’ world views by helping them understand religions with which they might be less familiar.
Offering kids a global take on religion lets them appreciate the perspectives of the many faith groups within, and outside of, the United States. In this way, kids develop the diversity skills they will need to succeed in the 21st century. Click on the names of the religions in the table below to access mini-articles that provide more information on the religion, as well as the corresponding holiday that falls within a particular month. Faiths in the table include: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism and Baha’i.
The mini-articles offer a basic rundown of beliefs and practices, information about two holidays observed in the faith, and links to enrichment resources such as photographic images and relevant phrases in various languages. Each month of the school year, try opening discussion on one or more religious observances that might be new to your students. NOTE: The indicated timing is approximate for many of the holidays. Many observances are timed to lunar cycles that change from year to year. In addition, some observances begin in the month indicated but carry over to a subsequent month.
If you prefer to teach about a holiday on its actual start date, you will need to research the specific date on a year-to-year basis. Religion can be a complex and even contentious issue and therefore needs to be approached carefully in the classroom. The good news is that clear guidelines offer appropriate practices for public-school educators. The Teaching About Religion site offers a helpful list of “do’s and don’ts” as well as concrete examples of what appropriate classroom instruction on world religions looks like. In general, educators will want to present a secular discussion that neither endorses nor denigrates any one religion.
Allowing student discussion to go in the direction of proselytizing or judging peers. Stereotyping adherents of various faiths or ignoring the diversity present within every faith. Likewise, any outside speaker the educator may engage should be comfortable abiding by these guidelines. Begin by asking students to define the term “religion. Record students’ responses on chart paper, or have them share their ideas verbally with the class.