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International holidays

Students in other countries
An activity that explores different cultures, customs and traditions by looking at the many holidays celebrated around the world.

Social Sciences curriculum connections
Level 1 Understand that people have different roles and responsibilities as part of their participation in groups. Understand how the past is important to people.  Understand how places in New Zealand are significant for individuals and groups.
Level 2Understand how cultural practices reflect and express people’s customs, traditions, and values. Understand how places influence people and people influence places.
Level 3Understand how cultural practices vary but reflect similar purposes.
Level 4 Understand how people pass on and sustain culture and heritage for different reasons and that this has consequences for people.
Level 5Understand how the Treaty of Waitangi is responded to differently by people in different times and places.

Learning materials

  • Paper 
  • Pencil
  • Coloured pencils
  • Stapler 
  • Computer
  • Internet


Holidays are celebrated world-wide. What types of holiday traditions do you have at your house (e.g. Waitangi Day)?  Create a mind map to record your brainstorming ideas.

Activities and teaching strategies

  1. Levels 1-2: Create a ‘passport’ for the week’s activities.  Fold 3 sheets of 8.5×11 paper in half and staple the folded edge to make a booklet.  Draw a silver fern on the front and write ‘New Zealand Passport’.  On the inside of the first page, draw a self portrait and sign your name.  As you enter into each country, ‘stamp’ your passport!  

a) FRANCE ‘Bastille Day’

*Background:What Is Bastille Day’ clip (1 min): 
*Activity: French Boy Toilet Paper Roll Craft

b) MEXICO ‘Grito de Dolores’

*Background: El Grito de Dolores reenactment (5 mins): 
*Activity: Mexican Flbag digital jigsaw puzzle 

c) AFRICA ‘Freedom Day’

*Background: Children’s book, ‘Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ by Chris Van Wyk
*Activity: Bake traditional Maelie bread 

d) INDIA ‘Gandhi Jayanti’

*Background: Gandhi biography for children
*Activity: Variety of children’s craft options

e) GERMANY ‘German Unity Day’

*Background: Symbols of German unity slideshow
*Activity: German counting song 1-10

  1. Levels 3-8: Let’s learn about holidays!  Answer the following questions by doing research:
  1. What are national holidays?
  2. What are some examples of national holidays in other countries?
  3.  What are some national holidays that we celebrate in New Zealand that are not celebrated in other countries?
  4.  How are religious holidays different from national holidays?
  5.  What are some examples of religious holidays?
  6.  How is a general holiday different from a national or religious holiday?
  7.  What are some general holidays?


Music can transcend time and culture.  It can bring people together to speak a ‘universal language’. Take a look at our global community coming together to share their talents for a common collective.

Levels 1-5:  Create your own holiday.  What date(s) would you celebrate? What would the premise be and what traditions would be formed?  Where would people congregate?  Would there be specific attire to be worn?  Is there music that accompanies the celebrations?     
Levels 1-8: International holiday food traditions play a big role in the celebrations.  Try out some new recipes and experience what other students have fallen in love with globally.  


African Bites Online (June 2014). Mealie bread (South African Corn Bread). Retrieved on 13 April 2020 from https://www.africanbites.com/mealie-bread-south-african-corn-bread/

Courtney, S. (2020). Holidays around the world. Retrieved on 12 April 2020 from https://www.commonsense.org/education/lesson-plans/holidays-around-the-world>

Guenther, L. (2020). French boy toilet paper roll craft. Retrieved on 13 April 2020 from https://www.dltk-kids.com/world/france/mfrench.htm

Haslett, L (December 2012). 15 delicious international holiday food traditions. Retrieved on 12 April 2020 from https://www.delish.com/entertaining/g363/holiday-food-traditions/

Hofmann, S. J. (May 2015). Coke, cars, communism: Everyday symbols of German unity

Retrieved on 13 April 2020 from https://www.dw.com/en/coke-cars-communism-everyday-symbols-of-german-unity/g-18478442

JigZone Company. (2006). Mexican flag jigsaw puzzle. Retrieved on 13 April 2020 from http://www.jigzone.com/puzzles/1712004174C?z=6&m=A9C9000F>

KidsTV123. (June 2010). Numbers song in German – Zahlenlied. Retrieved on13 April 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KO9DAnw39do>

Kid Engage Ltd. (October 2019). Teach children about Mahatma Gandhi. Retrieved on 13 April 2020 from https://kidengage.com/blog/2019/10/gandhi-diy-activities

Salgado, H. (August 2018). El Grito de Dolores. Retrieved on 13 April 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8HEYNitvm8

Study Company Ltd. (2020). Holidays around the world lesson plan. Retrieved on 12 April 2020 from https://study.com/academy/lesson/holidays-around-the-world-lesson-plan.html>

WISN 12 News (13 July 2017). What is Bastille Day? Retrieved on 13 April 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvTxpxZNmhg

Youtube for Kids. (February 2015). Mohandas Gandhi (Biography for Children). Retrieved on 13 April 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWhCniD9VkI


Rachel Williamson-Dean

Rachel Williamson-Dean is an experienced secondary school teacher, who has lived and taught in North America, the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. She has a Master of Public and Population Health Degree (MPH – Dist) and a PhD in Health Education. Over the past ten years Rachel has worked with students and school leaders across New Zealand, including leading the digital literacy programme, The Summer Learning Journey, for which she received the NEXT Woman of the Year in Education 2018 award. 

By Rachel Williamson-Dean

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