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Want to incorporate multiculturalism into your lessons this spring? Why not take an imaginary trip around the world and visit another country, in your very own classroom?
Ask students: Do you want to journey on an imaginary trip to Vietnam to participate in the Chu Dong Tu Festival? Or what about to India to visit the festival of Holi? That’s what we’ll be doing today.
What are some things that any festival typically includes? (decorations, food, activities and games, etc.) If you were going to help prepare for these two festivals in India and Vietnam, what would you need for your trip? Allow students to research these events and countries to create a supply list for their trip. What will the weather be like in the country on your day of travel? How should you ‘pretend pack’ your bag in order to prepare?
In Vietnam during the Chu Dong Tu Festival (which celebrates one of the four Vietnamese “immortal heroes”), girls wear traditional dresses and hats, and then they act out a story.
1. Read aloud a story about Vietnam and allow student volunteers to act it out as you read. This is very engaging…and also encourages adept listening ears! Here are a couple favorites:
Grandfather’s Dream, by Holly Keller. A warm tale that takes place in a rural Vietnamese village.
The Lotus Seed, by Sherry Garland. A hopeful tale about a Vietnamese refugee, told by her granddaughter.
2. An alternative spin on acting out a tale is to allow students to act out traditional American tales (which they all know). First, write the names of several common stories (like fairy tales) on strips of paper. Arrange students into groups of four and allow each group to draw a story strip, which they will then act out. Give each group about 30 minutes to prepare ideas, and then have them act out their “skit” for the class. They are guaranteed to be silly…but lots of fun!
India’s festival of Holi is a celebration of colors! During this exuberant and blissful spring festival, participants dress in old clothing and toss colored powders and colored water into the air, rubbing the colors into their clothing and skin, as a celebration of good and light over evil.
1. Allow students to bring in old clothes, preferably light colored (some old white shirts from Dad work great!). Or, ask for old light-colored sheet donations, and cut them into makeshift tunics for your students.
2. Get permission from the administration first, and then find an area outside (like an empty parking lot or grassy area). Give each student a small cup filled with colored water (just a drop of food color mixed in a cup of water should do fine…you don’t want too much!). Then, they can throw their water up into the air, so it rains down colors…just like in India! Using dried, colored grits (add food color to dry grits) is another idea for something colorful (but biodegradable) they can throw.
3. Of course, throwing colors is messy (although the children LOVE it!), but if neater is more your speed, you could opt for colorful art, instead. Students can finger paint and “splatter” paint with water colors on white paper by flicking their brushes. They can also use colored dry grits to create collages by drawing a design on paper, adding glue, and then sprinkling the colored dried grits onto the glue.
4. Then, students can hug each other and say “Happy Holi!”–ushering in the warm spring weather, India-style.