The unit goal, to promote harmony and mutual understanding among people with diverse backgrounds, is based on the assumption that knowledge is a necessary component in achieving that goal. Learning more about the people of various cultures, through the study of their holidays and celebrations, is one way of gaining understanding.
The core foundation of this unit is the use of children's literature to explore facts and fictions associated with the selected holidays. Each section includes a brief history, and further explanation of the particular holiday being cited. There follows a listing of interesting and appropriate books for classroom use. I have chosen children's books from town libraries and local bookstores. Other titles could easily be interchanged with those which I have suggested. An abundance of books depicting the major holidays is readily available. More difficult to find selections include children's books on the celebrations of Three Kings Day, and Cinco de Mayo. Children's books which tell about Kwanzaa are well represented. The selection of reading material will be influenced by the individuals within the group.
Many of my students are limited in their reading ability. Therefore, the use of children's books as a remedial activity is a strategy which I will employ throughout the curriculum unit, to both improve reading skills and to build funds of information. During the presentation of the unit, we will discuss, practice, and prepare for reading to younger children. Concerning my particular students, I will continually stress the importance of reading to their own children beginning at a very early age. I believe that all students need to hear that message. In our school students may put it into practice sooner, rather than later.
The unit will be taught as a series of mini units, each representing a specific holiday. This will be done in a timely fashion, as holidays approach, throughout the school year. Approximately two weeks of fifty minute classes will be devoted to each of the nine holidays selected. Background information, described in detail within the unit plan, will be presented by the teacher. This will be augmented by the exploration of children's literature which will be available to students in the classroom. Books encompassing a variety of reading levels will be included. The use of children's books plays an integral part in the teaching of the unit by providing sustained reading practice, along with the presentation of factual information. In addition, the knowledge gained by learning about holiday traditions different from their own, will help the students to better understand their classmates and others in the community. Classroom projects, including arts and crafts activities, and written assignments, generated by the unit of study, will be used to represent each holiday celebration. A wide range of product outcomes are to be expected because of the various ability levels within my classes. As an example, written assignments might be as simple as expressing a thought in a full sentence for some students to creating a complex story of two or three pages for another student. Selected finished products will be displayed within the classroom, and throughout the school building.
A second option to teaching the unit is to present the unit as a whole, encompassing the study of all the holidays cited over a period of two to three weeks, during fifty minute classes. Here the emphasis would be on comparing and contrasting holidays by focusing on their similarities and differences. An example might be to illustrate one or two of the differences between Christmas and Three Kings Day, two holidays with many similarities occurring during the winter holiday season. Students might choose a particular holiday to present to the group. Individual or group research papers could be assigned. Books, representing particular holidays, might be read to the class by individual students. Projects would focus on the variety of holidays being studied concurrently, and could culminate in a comprehensive display of the end products. In our school we plan a yearly multicultural luncheon. The completion of the unit could be planed to coincide with such an event.