Oagadougou…one of my favorite words to pronounce in the entire world. Ouagadougou is the capital of Burkina Faso, a small country in Africa. I learned about it when I was 10 years old and have never forgotten about this place. Its flag reminded me of Christmas: half green, half red and a bright yellow star in the middle. When I was in 5th grade, we started learning about a new country every month. Even though our teacher picked the smallest and least heard of places on the map, she created in us the biggest awareness and passion for diversity.
Celebrating diversity is not only a great way to make students from different backgrounds feel welcome, but a fantastic strategy to transform your students into global citizens. Here are some fun ideas to celebrate diversity in your classroom throughout the school year.
The Country Corner
Pick a different country every month and devote a space in your classroom for students to create a bulletin board or poster about it. This fun class research project is the perfect opportunity to teach your students about new cultures and traditions! Students can learn how to perform the traditional dances and prepare the national food dishes. At the end of the month, you can celebrate the country’s culture by having your students perform the dance and bring the dishes they prepared to class for extra credit!
Learn the "Birthday Song" in different languages
This is such a fun way to celebrate languages! Ask your ELL students if they know the birthday song in their native language or just look it up online. Then have the entire classroom learn it! They will be thrilled to sing it when a classmate’s birthday comes around.
If you have an international student in your class, invite his or her parents to come share about their culture. They will most likely be honored by the invitation! If they don’t speak English, you can have your student translate for them. This is a great opportunity for your ELL student to practice his or her language skills. If the family is not comfortable with this idea, they can share a dance, song or dish. There are so many ways to share about a culture!
Happy Holidays A fun idea to learn about celebrations around the world is having your students design cards for the different holidays! Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hannukah, Chinese New Year, you name it! Create a gallery with your student’s masterpieces and celebrate, celebrate, celebrate!
International Food Festival
If your classroom has students from different countries, this is a great way for them to share about their culture. Food is an easy and yummy way to celebrate diversity! If you want to add more variety to your food festival, you can always create small groups and assign students a country. In my class, we created our own passports and carried them around the room to get stamps when we tried different foods. The student that had more stamps would get a prize! It was a great way to encourage students to try new things!
About two weeks ago I received a message from one of my friends from college.
Shelby: I am flying to Africa tomorrow to meet my boyfriend’s family! He is from Burkina Faso
Me: No way! is he from Ouagadougou?
Shelby: Yes! How did you know?
Me: Oh, my friend… it’s a small world after all <3