The following information has been put together with the support of the Council of State Social Studies Specialists (CS4) to help educators who are planning to include seasonal holiday activities in their classrooms and at their schools.
Before planning, think about the following questions compiled from teachhub.com, educateiowa.gov, the First Amendment Center, and Teaching Tolerance:
- Is this activity designed in any way to promote or inhibit religion?
- How does this activity serve the academic goals of the course, or the educational mission of the school?
- Will any student or parent be made to feel like an outsider, not a full member of your classroom community, by this activity?
- If in December, are there plans to teach about religious holidays at other times of the year or do we only teach about holidays in December?
- Are your planned activities centered around only one winter holiday?
- Are you prepared to teach about the religious meaning and significance of this holiday in a way that enriches all of your students’ understanding about history and culture?
- Is the activity you planned show tolerance for all religions or is it focusing on one main religion?
- Is a celebration a Christmas party or a winter party? The latter is okay.
- Are you displaying holiday decorations with a religious theme?
Additional resources for teaching about holidays:
For more information contact Joe Schmidt, Maine DOE Social Studies Specialist at (207) 624-6828 or firstname.lastname@example.org