December, a time for holidays and observances of different faiths and cultural traditions, is also Spiritual Literacy Month. Broadening your understanding of religions and cultures from around the world and throughout history can give you a better understanding of students’ diverse backgrounds and help you promote respect in your classroom. Learn about the history and traditions of many religions and belief systems using the following resources:
Between 600 BCE and 1200 CE, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam continued to develop as their followers spread out to new communities. Bridging World History, unit 7, “The Spread of Religions,” discusses the political, cultural, and intellectual influences on these religions in motion.
In program 8, “Celebrations of Light,” of the Social Studies in Action K-12 Library, watch as Eileen Mesmer teaches her young students in Salem, MA the traditions of St. Nicholas Day, St. Lucia Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Mesmer relates these traditions to a Cherokee legend about the winter solstice.
Compare early communities around the world and their spiritual and moral connections with nature in Bridging World History, unit 5, “Early Belief Systems.” Shinto, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and the ethical and philosophical codes of Confucius and Greek thinkers are discussed.
More resources related to spirituality and cultural practices around the world:
Teaching ‘The Children of Willesden Lane,’ program 9, “A First Impression of Judaism”
The Western Tradition, program 11, “Early Christianity”
Out of the Past, program 7, “The Spirit World” (Mayan culture and spirituality)
Art of the Western World, program 2, “A White Garment of Churches—Romanesque and Gothic”
Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices, program 22, “Happy New Year!” (Japanese New Year’s celebration customs)
Artifacts & Fiction, unit 8, “Ceremonial Artifacts” (Native American culture)