Every student is unique, with their own personalities, strengths, and cultural backgrounds, and it’s only right that the diversity of our classrooms be celebrated, to educate and bring students closer together.
One of the most effective ways to foster a classroom environment that is sensitive and appreciative of different cultures is to give students educational opportunities that embrace the diversity of the classroom.
Including students’ families can also give students pride in their cultural background, and deepen bonds between their classmates. But where to begin?
Below, you’ll find 10 of the best multicultural classroom activities to try today!
1. Host A Multicultural Day
If you have a diverse classroom, then organize a multicultural day dedicated to celebrating that diversity.
Ask your students to give a presentation on different aspects of their cultures, such as their history, achievements, food, music, and fashion.
You can also focus on the cultures that represent the history of your community, or broader area, such as your state.
You can ask your students to create posters or brochures that focus on different aspects of their diverse backgrounds, and have them present these brochures or posters to the class.
2. Classroom Collage
Representation is important, and one of the best ways to celebrate and represent your students is to organize a class activity making a collage out of their photos.
For an in-person learning setting, take photographs of your students or ask them to bring in a photo from home – baby pictures are always sure to start a fun conversation and get students sharing cute, funny stories!
In a remote setting, ask the students to send photos for you, or take a screenshot on the remote-learning platform of your choice – make sure to ask permission from parents or guardians beforehand.
Once you have collected photos, help the students make a collage of the pictures.
If you’ve asked students to provide old and current photos, you can make a ‘then’ and ‘now’ collage, and add maps of the countries where your students have roots.
Display these collages front and center in your in-person or remote classroom so that your students can see that they are pride of place in the classroom.
This is a great way to not only celebrate diversity in the classroom, but create a sense of classroom spirit too.
3. Pen Pals
Learning about the history, culture, and traditions of communities around the world is great, but connecting and forging a friendship with those in different countries is awesome!
It’s one of the best ways to gain an appreciation for different cultures.
Websites like ePals help pair students from schools around the world. Ask your students to send letters to their new international pen pals.
A great icebreaker would be for students to talk about seasonal traditions in their home country, and inquire about their pen pal’s.
Befriending children from other countries is an amazing way to instill enthusiasm for learning about different cultures in your students, and some students and their pen pals may become friends for life!
Schedule a lesson for your students to have a Q&A session with their new pen pal, and ask your students to prepare their questions ahead of time to help them get over any nerves or awkwardness they might be feeling.
It’s certain to be an insightful and engaging time for all!
4. Multicultural Playtime
One thing all children have in common is that they love to play, and the language of play is universal.
So another great way to involve students – and their families – in educating students about each other’s cultures is by asking them to introduce games from their respective cultures or home countries into the classroom.
For example, Tinikling is a game from the Philippines that has similarities to double-dutch jump rope, but swaps out a jump rope for bamboo poles.
Meanwhile, Kongki Noli is a Korean game similar to American ‘jacks.’ Students get to play and have fun, whilst learning about different cultures in the process.
5. Plan A Virtual Multicultural Classroom Field Trip
Field trips are a guaranteed way for students to learn about multiculturalism.
Still, it’s rather unrealistic to organize an international field trip for your students! But that doesn’t mean your class has to miss out – you can organize a virtual field trip instead, which is a fabulous alternative!
There are many resources online where students can take a virtual trip to another country to learn about their traditions, customs, and culture.
Every student can pick a country they would like to visit and take a virtual tour of their monuments, museums, places of worship, and schools.
Once the trip is over, they present what they’ve learned to the class in either an oral report or a PowerPoint presentation.
6. Create A Short Heritage Documentary
A short documentary about each student’s cultural heritage is an amazing project for your students to work on, helping them and others gain a wider appreciation and understanding of their history.
Students can film the 5-minute documentary on their phones, and revolve around interviews with their family members.
The documentary can include family photos, interviews with questions around a culture’s traditional dress, cuisine, music, and customs, and a brief background of the culture and country in question.
These short documentaries can teach the whole class about each of their classmates’ lives, and how their cultural background shapes their beliefs and perspectives.
7. International Cuisine Potluck
We all know how much power food has in bringing us together, so it makes sense that an international buffet is a great way to include students and their families in learning about different cultures.
You can ask each family to prepare a dish or two from their culture, while you make table tent cards where they can label the dish and its ingredients.
To give the multicultural potluck more of an ambience, you can ask your students to provide 2-3 songs or instrumentals from their culture, combine them in a playlist, and play while everyone is enjoying the delicious food. This is an amazing way to bring food, music, and people together!
8. Celebrate Holidays From Around The World
To get everyone in the festive spirit, dedicate a lesson or a day to observing different traditional holidays from all over the globe.
Ask your students to give a presentation on how their culture or home country celebrates certain holidays.
A great place to start is to ask students to share their experiences of celebrating certain holidays with their families.
If they have been unable to partake in certain holidays from their culture, they can discuss with their family members experiences they had, or do some deeper research online.
Every presentation can include topics such as customary holiday foods, decorations, songs, and games that their family partake in while celebrating.
9. Invite Guest Speakers
It’s fairly standard for schools to invite guest speakers who work in various industries to speak to students to get them thinking about their future aspirations, or share crucial messages, and the same goes for educating students about multiculturalism.
Inviting a multicultural guest speaker panel is a great way to give students insight into diverse customs, ethnicities, and traditions.
You can even invite students’ family members to speak, which is an amazing way to get families more involved with their child’s education.
If you’re unable to host a speaker in the classroom, set up a Zoom call or Google Meet instead.
10. Multicultural Dance Party
Learning about the music of different cultures and countries is a fun way to celebrate cultural diversity, whether virtually or in-person.
Ask students to bring in or send music associated with their culture – they can even share or bring instruments that are used in their culture’s music.
You can look up videos to teach your class dances and songs from cultures around the world, and ask them to focus on certain instruments they may have never seen or heard before.
Discuss what makes each dance or song unique, the tempo and timbre of the music, and the size of the movements in the dance. For extra fun, you can even get your students up and dancing themselves!
You can also have a discussion about how people enjoy dance and music all over the globe, and how a love of music is a universal one.
We can celebrate, enjoy, and experience music from all over the world, without necessarily knowing the language of the culture. After all, music is for everyone!
One of the greatest things about our classrooms is the diversity of the students and the multiculturalism associated with it, and such diversity should be celebrated.
The world is more connected than ever nowadays, and so it’s essential to teach students about the many cultures, foods, traditions, history, and games that they may not otherwise experience in their own community.
Not only does introducing multicultural activities to the classroom broaden the cultural awareness of your students, but it’s also a great way to involve students’ families and the wider community in the classroom.
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