Classroom Ideas For Teaching International Customs This Mother's Day

Our mothers (and mother figures) do so much for us. They drag us out of bed in morning for school, they provide us with a shoulder to cry on, they encourage us to grow into the best versions of ourselves possible; all while juggling day-to-day life. The least we can do is take one arbitrary day out of the year to make paper mobiles and homemade greeting cards for them at school, right?

What many don't know is that Mother's Day is not strictly an American holiday, nor is it celebrated the same all across the world. In Brazil, kids put together special performances for their mothers before a community barbecue at a local church or school. In Japan, kids present their mothers with red carnations, symbolic of her gentle strength. In Serbia, mothers are tied up until they acquiesce to give their children gifts and candy (this is real).

This Mother's Day, shake the routine in your classroom and introduce your students to some international customs.

Here's how:

Split your classroom into small groups. To each group, assign a country. It will be upon the groups to research Mother's Day customs from their assigned countries and prepare cultured gifts or tokens of gratitude for their mothers. If a group chooses France, for example, their research will likely lead them to writing poems. Remember to float around the classroom to keep your students on task. If a chosen country has seemingly blasé customs, encourage your students to be creative and create new (inoffensive) customs! If you want to get really creative you could even get all of your students to create their own country and a Mother's Day custom to go along with it. 

Introducing your students to international Mother's Days will contextualize the day for them and lead them to appreciate its significance as more than just another holiday. As a follow-up, you could talk to your students about other foreign analogs to American holidays. Tell them about Children's Day in China. That is sure to get a rise out of them.

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