Vibrant and Sweet: Celebrating Diwali

by Teresa Narey

Introduction and Background

A quick Internet search for Diwali (pronounced dee-VAH-lee) yields many results that compare this Indian holiday to Christmas. While the bright colors and flowers associated with India’s most cherished festival may not immediately draw up images of a snowy Christmas, its emphasis on sweets, gift-giving, and spirituality will certainly resonate with you.

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Not Halloween: An Introduction to Dia de los Muertos

by Teresa Narey

Introduction and Background:

In the U.S., the end of October is traditionally marked by the celebration of Halloween. In greater America, however, another holiday emphasizing fun, food, and costumes calls attention to the passing of time. Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is celebrated in Mexico and throughout Latin America on November 1 and 2, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, respectively (click here for help pronouncing Spanish words). On the surface, Dia de los Muertos and Halloween appear to have much in common, but a closer look at customs tells us otherwise.

The purpose of Dia de los Muertos is to honor the memories of deceased loved ones by having parties, displaying their favorite items in ofrendas (altars), and participating in activities they once enjoyed. Celebrations highlight the idea that our ancestors are still with us in spirit. Acknowledging Dia de los Muertos in your setting provides children with a multicultural experience that extends autumn’s greatest lesson—the circle of life.

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Shana Tova: Bringing Rosh Hashanah into the Early Childhood Classroom

by Teresa Narey

The beginning of the school year signals the beginning of many things: meeting new children and families, observing children becoming friends, setting rules and expectations, implementing new ideas and activities—the list goes on. It’s fitting, then, that Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs during September. Rosh Hashanah literally translates to “Head of the Year.” (For help pronouncing Jewish holidays and Hebrew words, search here.) In addition to praying and attending services, Rosh Hashanah is a time when Jewish people reflect on their feelings and actions and consider how they may enter the new year with the best of intentions.

Like most holidays, Rosh Hashanah is associated with certain symbols, all of which can be used to inspire extended activities. Symbols of Rosh Hashanah include apples, honey, challah, pomegranates, and the shofar, a horn that is sounded following the reading of the Torah and services. Continue reading

Celebrating New Year’s

by Cora Miller

New Year’s Eve will be celebrated soon. How do you explain what the holiday is all about to young children? Keep your explanation simple. Explain that New Year’s Eve is a holiday that celebrates the end of one year and the beginning of another. Parties and celebrations are held all across the country to welcome the new year! Show the children a calendar from this year and one for next year, if possible.

Seven kids in colorful clothing raising their both hands upHave fun ringing in the New Year with some of the following activities for young children:

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Hurray for Flag Day!

flagpole in fieldby Judy Mullican

Every year on June 14 we celebrate National Flag Day to commemorate the day when the Stars and Stripes was adopted as the official flag of the United States in 1777. Celebrate this event with your children by offering some of these fun activities!

Find Flags: Walk around the neighborhood and see how many flags you can find. You may see flags at schools, the post office, businesses, or displayed in yards. Take pictures of all the flags you find and create a display in your room.

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