Festivals Around the World

Bring students together to learn about festivals celebrated in each other’s communities.
Ages 5-14 / 45
min Activity
Self-Awareness
Inclusivity
Perspective Taking
Social Studies

Objectives

  • ‍View photographs and stories of festivals celebrated in different communities around the world 
  • ‍Meet with a partner class to learn about festivals celebrated in each other’s communities, and explore similarities and differences between their experiences

Supporting Research

When people foster a sense of connectedness to others, especially across social identity boundaries, research shows beneficial outcomes around their relationships, openness to new experiences, and emotional wellbeing. Educators should encourage students to practice self-awareness and inclusivity as they share and learn about festivals celebrated in both communities and identify commonalities between their experiences, and perspective taking and kindness as they deepen their understanding of others’ culture, values, and history (e.g., by listening carefully to their peers and asking thoughtful questions).

To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.

Materials

Activity Partners

Educator Note

Empatico offers an exciting opportunity for educators to connect their classrooms with other classes around the world. Once you have connected with another educator in the Empatico community, you can schedule live virtual exchanges to bring your students together. These cross-cultural experiences enable students to share their stories, explore different perspectives, and make new friends in another community. 

Empatico exchanges are most successful when educators plan and get to know each other beforehand. To do this, please schedule a video call to connect with your partner educator, and use this opportunity to share your goals for this experience, exchange helpful information about your students, and discuss how you will lead the exchange together. Our "Get to Know Your Partner Educator" resource provides suggested conversation prompts for your meeting.

For more tips on leading a positive, cross-cultural experience for your students, please watch our “Teacher Tips” video.

Prepare: plan for the virtual exchange.

  1. Display this slideshow to explore festivals that are celebrated by communities around the world. Students will learn about the history and important traditions of each festival, see photographs of people celebrating, and reflect on any personal connections they may have to these festivals.
  2. After viewing the slideshow, engage students in a discussion by asking:
    • Do you celebrate any of these festivals in your family or community?
    • What is a festival that you celebrate? Is it similar to any of the festivals that were described in the slideshow?
    • What is something that many festivals have in common? For example, many festivals focus on a cultural or seasonal reason for celebrating, or include special food and decorations. Many festivals also bring people together to honor and celebrate shared values, culture, or customs.
    • Did you notice something interesting or unique about one of the festivals? What was it? What do you want to learn more about?
  3. Using students’ responses, create a list of festivals that are celebrated in your community. Depending on their cultural backgrounds, this list may include many different festivals! 
  4. Then, introduce your students to Empatico by watching this video, and ask them the following questions:
    • How do you feel about meeting our partner class? What do you think our new friends will be like?
    • Do you know anything about the city or country where our partner class is located? Where can we find more information about their location? (e.g., by using Google Earth to explore their neighborhood, or searching for images of their city online)
    • What do you think it might be like to live there? What do you think our neighborhoods might share in common, and how do you think our neighborhoods might be different?

    Throughout your conversation, nurture positive feelings such as excitement and curiosity. Explain that it’s normal to notice differences between ourselves and others, and that you will practice doing so respectfully. If any misconceptions or stereotypes arise, gently counteract them and explain how to reframe assumptions by asking questions or making "I wonder..." comments. (e.g., "I wonder what festivals our new friends might enjoy celebrating.") Ensure that students see this experience as an exciting opportunity to learn from their partner class!
  5. Work together to identify 3-5 festivals to share with your partner class during the virtual exchange. Encourage students to practice respect and kindness as they negotiate which festivals to select, and guide them towards ones which may be unique to your community.
  6. Prepare information to share about your selected festivals. For example, students might: 
    • Explain who celebrates it (or where it is celebrated)
    • Describe its history or significance
    • Share personal stories or create their own slideshow with photographs of how they celebrate this festival, including any special traditions that they have (e.g., ceremonies, decorations, music, food, or games) 
  7. Ask students to prepare questions to ask their partner classmates, such as:
    • What is your favorite holiday or festival? What do you like about it, and who do you celebrate it with?
    • When you celebrate, is there music that you enjoy listening to? Do you eat any particular foods, or wear any special clothing? How do these traditions make you feel?
    • If you could celebrate this festival with anyone, who would it be?
    • If you could create your own festival, what would it be? How would people celebrate it?

    Encourage students to write down their stories and questions on notecards that they can reference during the virtual exchange. 
  8. Establish and share communication norms for the virtual exchange, such as:
    • Keep yourself on “mute” (unless you are talking) to limit background noise, and raise your hand when you want to speak.
    • When it’s your turn to speak, come close to the device, say your comment or question loudly and clearly, and remain at the camera to hear your partner classmate’s response. Start by saying your name (e.g., “Hi, my name is ___. My question is...).
    • Listen attentively to the speaker and use hand signals (e.g., thumbs-up, “me too” signal, etc.) to indicate agreement or similarities.
    • Make sure that others have a chance to speak during the exchange.

    Ask students to share additional ideas for how they will show respect to their new friends, and consider leading a practice session so students can practice these strategies and imagine having a fun, positive interaction with your partner class. 

    For more tips on setting up your classroom for a virtual exchange, please visit this resource.

Interact: meet your partner class over a live virtual exchange.

Facilitate the virtual exchange using Empatico’s built-in Zoom integration, or the video tool that you previously selected, and follow the suggested exchange structure below:

  1. Take turns introducing yourselves (e.g., one student from each class can say “Hello!” and describe the current weather in their location).
  2. Lead a warm-up game to engage students in a fun, collaborative activity, such as “Let’s Get Moving” or “Would You Rather?” (optional).
  3. Encourage students to share about their selected festivals, and ask questions about your partner class’s celebrations. 
  4. Say thank you and goodbye!

If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...

Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call. 
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.

If students in either class don’t have individual devices...

Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.  
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.

If you prefer not using Kahoot!...

Use this document (Spanish version) to prompt students.