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NYC Helpline: How To: Work with Students' Families

Celebrating Multiculturalism
by Linda Mandracchia

As we approach Thanksgiving and the winter holidays, a great way to involve parents is to have a Multicultural Celebration.  If you want people to come, make the event about food.  This doesn’t necessarily mean you the teacher provide the food; if parents/caregivers are invited to the classroom or school for a celebration and asked to bring a dish from their ethnicity, most will attend. In addition to food, you might also ask parents to bring paper plates, cups, etc. It’s a good idea ask three or four students for the same item. 

Below is a sample form. Feel free to adapt it to your needs.

=============

Dear Parents/Caregivers of Class _________

In celebration of all our many diverse cultures, and to recognize the pending holidays, we have decided to invite you to our Multicultural Clelebration, on (insert date, time and place).  Please bring a main dish, side dish or dessert that represents your culture to share.  In addition please send (see suggestions at bottom*).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Please check off what food you will be sending and the name of the dish.
I will send  a main dish _______________________________
                   side dish ________________________________
              or  dessert __________________________________
Child’s name _______________________________________

Thank you.  We hope to see you on (insert date) for our Multicultural Celebration.

Sincerely,
Ms. Mandracchia

=============

* items to be included in the blank.

  • Large paper plates
  • Small paper plates
  • Plastic spoons
  • Plastic forks
  • Plastic knives
  • Napkins
  • Cups
  • One container of juice

           
Don’t worry if you get inundated with paper plates and plastic utensils—you can use them for your next celebration.

You might also ask parents to share something about their holiday customs.  They could do a read aloud, tell a story, share some rituals or customs.  Make sure you include all the different cultures of your class.   When my son was in pre-k, I was asked to share something about Christmas with the class.  I read “The Night Before Christmas” and shared a letter that my son had received from Santa Claus.  Of course I also bought in some candy canes.

The holidays are an excellent an opportunity to incorporate multiculturalism into your classroom.  Find lots of books and poems that celebrate each culture.  Try to keep it secular, and make sure to check with your school if having this kind of celebration is acceptable.  This is yet another way of building bridges between home and school and making it fun for all.

See also: Lots of Celebrating Going On by  Rosemary Shaw.

 

 

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