Diwali is a popular choice when doing a holidays around the world unit in an elementary classroom. If this is not a holiday you celebrate personally, you may not know a lot about it. These facts and resources about Diwali will help you plan and prep a comprehensive unit that your students will enjoy.
Diwali in India is an interesting topic to explore with elementary students. This Diwali in India resource can be used as a stand alone unit or as part of a larger holidays around the world unit. It includes everything you need to teach your students about this special winter holiday, even facts about Diwali to help you become familiar with the topic.
What is Diwali?
This is an excerpt from the reading passage and student mini-booklet that can be found in the Diwali unit:
“Diwali is the Hindu ‘festival of lights’ which celebrates the New Year. It is India’s most important holiday. The festival is calculated by the lunar Hindu calendar so it falls on different days each year. It is celebrated in October or November.
Diwali is a very exciting and colorful holiday. It is a five day celebration. Diwali is held in honor of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Homes are cleaned to welcome the New Year and windows are opened so that Lakshmi can enter.”
Why You Should Teach Students about Diwali
The months of November and December are a great time of year to teach students about the different holidays and celebrations that take place around the world this time of year. Students are already thinking about the upcoming holidays, so it makes sense to use this excitement to engage them in their learning. There are so many different ways to tie this topic into your curriculum – especially social studies and literacy standards!
Diwali in India is a particularly interesting topic to explore because some of your students may have never heard of it before. Students can learn about a culture and set of traditions that are different from their own. Learning about this holiday creates an interesting opportunity for students to compare and contrast this holiday’s traditions and what their own holiday traditions look like. For your students who do celebrate this holiday, it’s a great way to invite them to share about their experiences and recognize the value in their holiday and family traditions.
5 Facts about Diwali in India
- Diwali is the Hindu “festival of lights” which celebrates the New Year.
- Diwali is India’s most important holiday.
- The festival is calculated by the lunar Hindu calendar, so it falls on different days each year.
- It is a five-day celebration.
- Fireworks and firecrackers are often a part of Diwali celebrations.
This Diwali resource includes the following:
- resource overview that identifies all of the printables included in the product
- teaching ideas that offer suggestions for how to implement the resources in your classroom
- organizational tools to help you keep track of the resources you add to this thematic unit
- book suggestions to help you find relevant read alouds you might like to use as part of your unit
- close reading passage for both teachers and students to learn more about the holiday
- printable book for students to use to learn about the holiday
- two-column notes graphic organizer so your students can organize their ideas and the research they collect
- top-down web graphic organizer so your students can take the information they collected and transfer it into a paragraph framework
- cover pages that students can color in or design their own illustration
- geography map to help students make sense of where the country is in relation to themselves
- flag bunting that looks great displayed on a bulletin board
- flag coloring page that pairs well with the writing project and makes a great bulletin board
- postcards so students can show what they learned in a fun and creative way
- travel scrapbook so students can show what they learned in a fun and creative way
- travel journal so students can show what they learned in a fun and creative way
- art project to engage your students in a fun learning experience based on an academic topic
- recipe for students to bring home, share with their families, and enjoy a hands-on learning extension
- digital version of the product so students can access the materials in school and at home
5 Reasons Why You Will Love It
- This resource includes a bunch of activities, so it’s a great value!
- Many of the resources are completely print and go, which saves you lots of prep time.
- You can customize it to fit your needs by selecting which included activities you implement.
- The activities are open-ended making it easier to differentiate and make modifications and enabling you to use this in multiple grade levels.
- It’s a great way to keep students engaged during a month where that can feel extra challenging!
How to Implement a Diwali Unit
Below are suggestions for how to implement a Diwali unit.
1. Activate Schema
Locate India on a Map
Like all lessons, you will want to begin by activating student schema and engaging them in their learning. It’s a great way to see if your students are familiar with the holiday, celebrate it personally, or know any facts about Diwali. You can do this by:
- Locating India on a map.
- Discussing India’s climate.
- Inviting students to participate in mapping activities that help them understand where your students are in relation to India and the rest of the world.
This Me on the Map project has long been the most effective way I know to teach students where they are located from a global perspective.
Many teachers use it as part of a map skills unit at the start of each school year, but it also works so perfectly as an introduction to your Christmas Around the World or Holidays Around the World lessons.
Read Picture Books Related to India
Learn about India by reading aloud fictional picture books that take place in Israel and non-fiction books teaching about Israel.
2. Engage in the Activities from the Diwali Unit
The Diwali Unit includes tons of activities to choose from. Read through the resource overview and list of teaching ideas included in the unit to determine which activities you’d like to implement.
Read the Diwali Texts and Complete the Note-Taking Activities
This unit includes a close reading passage and printable book that your students can read to learn about the holiday. There is also a two-column notes graphic organizer and a top-down web graphic organizer that students can use to collect information about the holiday.
Analyze a Map of India
This unit includes a map to help students make sense of where the country is in relation to themselves. Our Me on the Map activities is a nice compliment to this activity.
Make a Travel Journal, Scrapbook, or Postcard
Having students create a travel journal, scrapbook, or postcard will invite them to show what they have learning in a fun and creative way.
Send Home a Traditional Indian Recipe
Send home a traditional Indian recipe for students to share with their families and continue their learning at home.
Make a Diwali Craft
Take some time to do a craft with your students to represent the country you are focusing on, India. It is so hard to fit in creative activities, but a winter celebrations around the world unit is a perfect time to incorporate fun hands-on learning experiences.
Here is what we made when we studied India! Check out these directions for how to make this craft and get ideas for other holidays around the world crafts!
3. Assess Students Using the Resources from the Unit
There are tons of different ways to assess students during and at the conclusion of your Diwali unit. You can use the graphic organizers, classroom observations, and class discussions as informal assessments. In addition, you can use the postcard, travel scrapbook, and travel journal as formal assessments. You can decide what works best for you and your class of students to demonstrate their retention and understanding of Diwali.
Holidays Around the World Unit
What is Included?
- Holland / The Netherlands
- The United States
- Chinese New Year
- Boxing Day
- Las Posadas
- St. Lucia’s Day
The bundle also includes the following bonus materials:
- Access to a digital portal for easy planning
- Passports and country stamps
- Luggage craft activity
- Boarding passes
- Travel map
- Compare and contrast countries with Venn diagrams
- Craft ideas
- Scrapbook cover
Check Out These Other Related Resources
In addition to the winter celebrations around the world resources spotlighted above, a study about India lends itself to a variety of other complementary projects like travel brochures, an animal research project and crafts. They are great for facilitating learning opportunities around India.
1. Travel Brochures
You could have your students create travel brochures by researching the country. It’s a fun and creative way for students to share the facts about Diwali they learned. This can be done in class or as a homework assignment to complement what you are doing in school. These printables travel brochures make it super simple!
2. Animal Research Projects
You could have your students learn about the wildlife native to Israel. This print and go animal research resource packet can be used over and over again through the school year because it was designed to be used when researching any animal.
If you need ideas specific to India, I suggest:
- Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros
- Bengal Tigers
- Asiatic Lion
- Lion Tailed Macaque
3. List of Diwali Books
We’ve curated a list of picture books for each of the countries. Check out all of the holidays around the world books on our list!
4. List of Diwali Videos
We’ve curated a list of videos for each of the countries. Check out all of the the holidays around the world videos on our list!
5. List of Holidays Around the World Posts
This post is part of a series designed to help teachers and homeschool families teach kids about the winter celebrations around the world. Other posts can be found below that follow the same format as this post about facts about Diwali.
These facts about Diwali and resources will help you plan a comprehensive unit on Diwali in India. Another helpful resource to check out is this article, which offers suggestions for how to manage a holidays around the world learning experience in your classroom. It will help you with planning and teaching lessons about Diwali in India, as well as a comprehensive holidays around the world resource.