Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holidays Around the World

This month for our Fantastic Friday homeschooler program, we took a trip around the world and learned about three different world holidays. I loved this program because not only did I learn a lot about these holidays and countries, but once I had everything prepped, it pretty much ran itself! Here's what I did.

I featured three different holidays from three different countries: Diwali from India, Children's Day from Japan, and Losar (Tibetan New Year) from Tibet. I prepped a craft for each of the holidays and put together a take-home packet with information about each holiday/country.I set up the room so that we had three craft tables with chairs all around. On each table, I had the supplies for the craft, a sign sharing information about the holiday, and a sign with craft instructions.

I contacted some of our teen homeschoolers and asked them if they would volunteer to help out. I ended up with four volunteers and I set three of them up at the craft tables and had one taking photos for me. I was lucky to have volunteers, but even if I hadn't, I think families would have been able to figure out what to do. My volunteers were fabulous. I asked them to greet families that came over to the table and tell them some information about the holiday (I printed off an additional information sheet for each of them to have). And then help them with the crafts however they needed. 

The crafts I picked were very easy, but still allowed for creativity (perfect for my group... the kids registered ranged in age from 3 to 14, although it was mostly younger kids that showed up).

  • For Diwali, we made Lakshmi's footprints, an idea I totally stole from Susan Baier at the ALSC Blog (definitely check out her post for some more great Diwali ideas!).
  • For Children's Day, we made these carp kites from Activity Village.
  • And for Losar, we made Tibetan prayer flags (you can see mine in the topmost photo). I cut 11" x 17" construction paper into quarters and had volunteers punch two holes in the top. We asked the kids to think about their wishes and hopes for the people around them and write them down or draw a picture. Buddhists believe that when the wind blows the flags, it carries the prayers all over the land. I had ribbon so that they could string their prayer flags and we used a little bit of tape to hold the string in place. 
Of course, for each table I had a book display featuring books about that country (I only had three books about Tibet, so I supplemented with books about Buddhism).

I did quite a bit of prep work for this program, but it was quite cheap (I didn't have to purchase anything - we had construction paper, crayons, etc.) and it was so easy to run that I didn't mind the prep work. Any one of these activities would be great for a more focused program on any of these countries. And the program format of having craft stations worked so well that I will definitely use it again for my homeschooler program.

Even though I didn't interact with the kids too much at this program, I could tell they were all having fun making their crafts. My hope is that they went home and talked about what they learned and what they did. And that this program might inspire them to learn a little bit more about different cultures and countries!