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Activities for Culturally Diverse Holiday Celebrations with Young Children

Dec 10, 2020    |   Celebrating DiversityWinter

The holidays might look different this year, but we can still find fun and creative ways to celebrate with young children. A variety of holidays are celebrated during the month of December, and so this is an excellent time to introduce children to diverse cultural traditions.

This article shares resources and activities that are great for in-person learning, as well as books and videos that can be shared with children both in the classroom and online.


As one of the biggest holidays of the year in the United States, Christmas is an exciting time for many young children who celebrate this day on December 25th.


Dish Brush Christmas Trees: With this simple craft, children can make and decorate their own Christmas trees with only a few items. All you will need is dish brushes (which can be found at the dollar store), paint, and construction paper. Children can make trees with dish brushes and then decorate their trees with fingerprints or other items you have on hand such as pom-poms or buttons!

Click here for detailed instructions to set up this activity.


Beaded Ornaments: This project is a great option for older preschoolers and children that have the motor skills needed to work with wire and beads. You’ll need craft wire, beads, buttons, and anything else you’d like to use to thread on the wire such as felt or cardboard cut-outs. Children string the beads onto the wire to create their ornaments. These make great gifts for children to give to parents or family members during the holiday season.

Click here for detailed instructions to set up this activity.


Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is an eight-day Jewish celebration that begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar. This year, Hannakkuh begins on the evening of Thursday, December 10 and ends on Friday, December 18.


Star of David painting: This is a simple painting activity that requires only watercolor paint, brushes, painters tape, and thick paper. Children can enjoy this simple process art experience as they paint. There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy this activity and no need to stay in the lines! Once the paint has dried, simply remove the painters tape to reveal a Star of David.

Click here to find more detailed instructions for setting up this activity.

Hanukkah Dancing Characters: This craft is a great option for older children and requires only a few materials: cardstock, paper fasteners, a hole punch, pens, markers (or anything else you’d like to use to decorate the characters!). When children are all done, you might even consider hanging these as a garland in your classroom for some festive decorations.

Click here to find more detailed instructions for setting up this activity.


Kwanzaa celebrates African heritage, unity, and culture and is celebrated from December 26th to January 1st.


Woven Kwanzaa Mats: A woven textile mat, called a mkeka, is one of the seven symbols of Kwanzaa. With just a few different colors of construction paper and some time, children can create their own Kwanzaa mat. This project is great for older preschoolers and children in pre-k with more advanced fine motor skills.

Click here for more detailed instructions, or click here to find instructions for this activity using recycled brown paper bags.

Kwanzaa Bracelets: This is a simple activity in which children can practice threading beads onto pipe cleaners to make bracelets. You can also use other materials such as yard or wooden beads, painted red, green, and black.

Click here for more detailed instructions to set up this activity.


Other Holidays to Celebrate

There are several other holidays celebrated at the end of the year by other cultures. You might consider asking families in your program if they celebrate any of these holidays, or if they have special family traditions that they would like to share. This is a great way for children to learn from each other and develop a broader awareness of other cultural beliefs and practices. A few other holidays you might be interested in exploring with young children are included below.

  • Ōmisoka: a Japanese traditional celebration on the last day of the year, December 31st.

  • Boxing Day: Celebrated in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, among other countries, Boxing Day takes place on December 26th.

  • Winter Solstice: The winter solstice falls on the day with the shortest period of daylight and longest night of the year, when the Sun is at its lowest daily maximum elevation in the sky. This year, the winter solstice will take place on Monday, December 21st.

  • Diwali: This celebration is also known as the festival of lights, and one of the major festivals celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. The festival usually lasts five days and takes place before the other holidays listed above, between mid-October and November.

And, for more culturally diverse children’s books to celebrate the end of the year holidays, check out a Good2Know Network article from the archives, Holiday Book Recommendations, with book ideas for young learners from infant to pre-k.  

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