Celebrating Global Diversity: Exploring World Festivals in Elementary and Middle School

CoverCelebrating Global Diversity: Exploring World Festivals in Elementary and Middle School is based on a growing need to foster global awareness and strengthen multicultural literacy in young learners. Engaging global content will enable young learners to generalize from the study of world festivals and celebrations and apply that learning in others aspects of learning and their lives. Further, the global and multicultural content in the unit reinforces the social and emotional learning of students and validates the experience of all students in culturally diverse classrooms. Through an exploration of world festivals and cultural celebrations, this unit provides classroom-ready comparative lessons, group activities, and educational content appropriate for students in Grades 3 - 6.

We have sought to address the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and National Geography Standards specific to the lower grades (K-6). The session addresses social studies standards that cover the importance of culture, cultural heritage, and family and national traditions. In doing so, the workshop provides educators with ways to guide young students toward deeper understandings of similarities and differences among people. Multi-culturally literate students value diversity, understand the perspectives of other cultural groups, and are sensitive to issues of bias, prejudice, and stereotyping.

Guiding Questions for Unit:

  • Why study festivals?
  • How might celebrations and festivals be important to understanding a culture or community?
  • What features of festivals are shared across different cultures and communities?
  • What can you learn about a culture, community or nation by looking at its important festivals and celebrations?
  • How might celebrations and festivals benefit the larger society?

The unit starts with the premise that celebrations and observances serve as microcosms of a community or culture, and they can illuminate what is shared, as well as what is unique, across the wide scope of human experience. On a deeper level, this lesson challenges students to understand new cultural practices (namely, celebrations of festivals and holidays) as very similar to their own, while still appreciating the ways in which they differ.

Unit Objectives:

  • Teach students about the roots of festivals from around the world.
  • Teach students about the modern day practices associated with them.
  • Challenge students to compare festivals/holidays from around the world with those they celebrate at home.
  • Develop an understanding of the diversity of cultural practices.
  • Promote tolerance and better understanding of cultural differences.

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