This is my first time with a jehovah witness in my first grade classroom. My school goes crazy in Xmas. It's the most celebrated holiday. I want her to participate as much as posible so I'm trying to find suitable activities that fit everyone and don't remove the christmas spirit and won't ofend her parents.
This is what I have thought so far:
craft: We are makig a snowman that is a photo holder.
story books for the classroom: snowday, ginger bread man... I NEED MORE
chapter book for read aloud: ?
FILM: It we great that it went together with the film. What about mr. poppers penguins? I haven't read or seen the movie. Is it about Xmas?
I used to do: Home Alone...
Xmas card: ?
Fun activities: playing with shaving-cream-snow. Anything else?
Classroom decor: ?
Xmas concert: ?
I was planning doing a New year's eve party song. With kids wearing funny hats and party dresses. Is it ok? I don't know if they celebrate that...
I'm completely lost. Anyone in the same situation and we can help each other... Share ideas. please...
I have not been in your situation, but I wouldn't change everything just for this student. It's unfair to the vast majority of students who do celebrate Christmas. For example, the classroom decor does not need to be affected. Do the parents not take the kid out anywhere for a solid month and half because Christmas decorations are everywhere? I doubt it. A film that may work is the Polar Express. I know its Christmas related, but I think its more about the spirit than the actual holiday (have not seen in a while so I may be off). For a Christmas card you could have the kids draw a snowy scene with them playing in it. For fun activities you could use basic activities but simply use red and green colors (paper chain, weave pattern, etc.)
I'm sorry you are in this position. I don't know if these ideas helped at all, but I'd encourage you to still do some Christmas activties.
I've had students who are Jehovah's Witnesses in the past, and each year I always have several Muslim students. The Muslim families never object to anything we do, but I do like to be sensitive to all cultures, so we don't "celebrate" Christmas in my classroom.
Some years we learn about various holidays. I invite families in to share their traditions. I've had a Christian mom come in and share the Nativity, Muslim families share about Eid (which actually just passed this year), we might learn about Jewish traditions, Kwanzaa, etc. I've also had families send in traditional foods for our "party."
Most recently I've done a week's worth of gingerbread activities. It works for everyone (it's literature-based) and the children really enjoy it. There are so many versions of the story and things you can do. For our "party," we decorate gingerbread cookies.
I would speak to the parent of your student about your plans to help you come to a conclusion about what is best for everyone.
My Jehovah Witness this year does not celebrate anything. For Thanksgiving we only talked about the Pilgrims. I will be sending my Holiday plan to the mom and she will let me know what he can participate in and what he cannot. We learn about five different holidays celebrated in the winter months (we can't do only Christmas celebrations).
Since your school is all about Christmas, you might ask the Kindergarten teacher how he or she handled it last year. That might give you some ideas. Here are some things I came up with though.
I assume that if you can watch Home Alone, you can watch Mr. Popper's Penguins. Both movies are rated PG. Last year, the movie came out just after my students got out of school for the summer. I met a bunch of them at a local theater with their parents and we watched it together. We had lots of fun. Be forewarned though, it is very different from the book (though, that could lead to a good compare/contrast activity!)
Could theirs just be winter themed and instead of saying, "Merry Christmas" (or whatever) say, "Happy Winter"?
As you suggested I talked to their previous teacher but she didn't change anything and this girl stayed in another classroom. I don't want her to feel that again. I'm going to adapt as much as possible...
Not sure of your grade level and your class diversity but I think this would be a wonderful time to have an international study. Really look into the culture of other countries, especially those represented in your class. You could share how fairy tales are taught across many cultures--Cinderella tale, Red Riding Hood, etc. If Santa Claus, Befana, St. Nick comes up--it simply comes up as a cultural focus.
We had a family who aren't JW, but had a lot in common with those beliefs. I tried to give the children choices...coloring pages with a snow covered forest or Christmas trees, etc.
Almost everything they make/do can involve choices. This way the child will still be part of the class.
The part about movies/books would be harder.
I say decorate as you normally would. As said, the family won't stay home for 6 weeks, avoiding EVERYTHING. I'd guess they don't expect you to change everything.
When I've had J.W. students I did what pp did . . . winter'ish activities for those students (snowman, snowflakes, penguins, eskimos, etc.). But, I still did the Christmas stuff with my class. When I read a Christmas story I gave my student the choice of listening to the story or working on the computer with headphones. He/she usually chose the computer. I organized a December folder of activities for the J.W. students. After I explained what the class was doing, I met with the J.W. briefly to go over his/her lesson. The one thing I think that helped was I typed up an outline of my monthly plans and gave the parents a copy. The parents marked which activities the child could participate in. What I've found after having several J.W. students . . . some parents are stricter than others. For example, some parents saw Thanksgiving as history rather than a celebration so their children could participate in the lessons.
"Winter Holidays" around the world. We read books from different cultures & discussed the various holidays as celebrated in each culture. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Loy Krathong, Santa Lucia Day, Etc. Within this study we read books from Germany, Mexico, The Netherlands, Russia, and several other countries & discuss their cultural traditions to their holidays. (They are often similar to Christmas but they call it something else, or the dates are different for example; St. Nicholas Day)
i agree with teacherski. My JW's were always able to listen to stories about the various holidays and even write facts about them. They were not allowed, however, to draw or color symbols of the holidays. I always give a winter themed book as a gift to my students and they were able to accept that. I think that you need to be sensitive to trying to think of activities that all your students can enjoy. Gingerbread theme was a great idea from PP. Or maybe a Mitten theme.
I have a JW in my classroom ...the parent gave me a booklet at the beginning of the school year of the do's and don'ts. I really don't change what I do; except he has a choice to do something else during our Christmas activities or any holiday celebration. For example, during the Veteran's day program, a relative came and got him. They won't send him the day of the Christmas party. During art, music ,etc...if they're going to do something he can't I keep him and give him extra computer time, etc. The thing that bothers me the most is that he doesn't recite the pledge in the morning with class; he stands but says nothing.
I have a student who does not celebrate holidays (not sure if he is Jehovah's Witness, though). We do not "do" Christmas as a school, so I do a lot of winter related projects, mittens, snowmen, snowflakes, etc...
My student stands for the pledge but does not recite along with us, which I am fine with, although he always wants to lean over his desk and write, play, mess around, which drives me crazy!
I have a student who is Jehovah Witness. I spoke with his mom about some of the activities we had planned dealing with Christmas and her reply was, I don't mine him participating in these activities because these are things that you do in your class. During morning devotion he does not stand for the pledge but when the pledge is over he has to stand for the rest of morning devotion.