How Do You Teach About Ramadan in K-5 Classroom?

Posted On 31 Mar 2022 by religionmatters

How Do You Teach about Ramadan in the K-5 Classroom?

Guest Blog: Rev. Dr. Vicki Garlock

Ramadan {RAH-muh-dahn} is the month-long Islamic fasting holiday that begins with the sighting of the new moon. When the month of Ramadan ends, and the new month begins, there is a celebration called Eid al-Fitr {EED ahl-FIT-er}.

This year (2022), Ramadan begins around April 2nd. The Islamic calendar follows the moon, so it has 12 months that are roughly 28 days each. That means two things:

  • The Islamic calendar year is about 12 days shorter than the calendar year used in the U.S.
  • Islamic holidays “move up” about 12 days each year relative to the U.S. calendar. Ramadan began in mid-April last year (2021) and will begin in mid-March next year (2023).

There are several aspects of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, and Islam that you can constitutionally and non-devotionally share with K-5 students. Below you will find some teacher prompts with images to help guide a classroom discovery of Islam and Ramadan. Click here for a PDF of this lesson. You can also click here for our free, age-appropriate PowerPoint presentation.

And, be sure to let me know if you have questions, concerns, or comments!

Introduction – Mosques and Muslims

Even very young students might already know something about Ramadan and/or Islam, so we recommend starting with some questions/prompts. We have included images, but if you have a mosque/Islamic center in your community, you might want to visit that website for images.


Teacher: Today we’re talking about a holiday that is special to many people around the world. It’s called Ramadan, and it’s celebrated by people who follow the religion called Islam. Have any of you ever heard of Ramadan or Islam?

Teacher: Most religions have places where people can gather. For example, if you are Christian, you might go to a church. Have any of you ever been to a church before? What kinds of things do you see on/in a church? [crosses, steeples, altars, Bibles, pictures/statues of Jesus, stained glass windows, pews, hymnals, candles, angels]

Teacher: In Islam, they don’t call their gathering spaces churches. Instead, they call them mosques. Here are some pictures of the outside of mosques. What kinds of things do you notice? [domes, small towers called minarets]

Teacher: And these are photos of the inside of mosques. What kinds of things do you notice now? [mostly empty space with carpet, plenty of room for everyone to stand shoulder-to-shoulder to pray]

Teacher: You might also notice that there are no pictures of people on the inside. Instead, mosques are usually decorated with colorful flowers, geometric designs, and calligraphy. Do you know what “calligraphy” is? [Fancy writing. In mosques, the fancy writing is usually in Arabic. In the left-hand image below, the brightly-lit, right-hand circle is an example of Arabic calligraphy.]

Teacher: Sometimes, religions have symbols. Do you recognize any of the symbols in this image?

Teacher: The symbol in the middle is a cross. Have any of you ever seen that symbol before? [Crosses are a symbol of Christianity and are seen both on the outside and inside of churches.]

Teacher: How about the one on the bottom? Do you know what that symbolizes? [The Star of David is a symbol of Judaism. It’s almost always seen on the inside of synagogues and sometimes on the outside.]

Teacher: How about the one on the top? What does that look like to you? [The crescent moon is an unofficial symbol of Islam. Sometimes, you see it on the tops of the domes and minarets.] Can you find the crescent moons on this mosque – the Crystal Mosque in Malaysia?

Teacher: The most famous mosque in the world is found in the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. [You can show them the Arabian peninsula on a world map.]

Teacher: In the center of that mosque, there is a courtyard, and in the center of the courtyard, there is a large cube called the Kaaba {KAH-buh}. It’s a very special place for Muslims. The Kaaba has existed, in some form or other, since ancient times. Nowadays, it is covered with a black cloth decorated with gold. Each year, millions of Muslims visit the Kaaba. This picture shows you how big it is. See all those people below it? Don’t they look small?

Teacher: People who follow Islam are called Muslims. Have you ever known someone who was Muslim?

Teacher: You can’t always tell when someone is Muslim just by looking at them. But, sometimes, you will see a Muslim woman who covers her hair. This is called wearing hijab {hee-JOB}. Have you ever seen someone wearing hijab?

Ramadan

Sharing What You Know

Teacher: Right now, Muslims from around the world are observing Ramadan. Have any of you ever heard that word before?  [Make sure they can say it.]

Teacher: Ramadan is the name of the month AND the name of the holiday. Do you know what Muslims do during the month of Ramadan?

Teacher: This video will give you a great overview of Ramadan. Watch it carefully, and then we’ll see what you remember.

Review Questions

What do Muslims do during Ramadan?  [Fast – no food or water – from sunrise to sunset]

Do Muslims eat or drink anything during Ramadan?  [They can eat when it’s dark – either before sunrise or after sunset. After sunset, they often eat together with friends, relatives, or people from their mosque]

What is the point of fasting during Ramadan?  [To remember how people who are poor/hungry might feel, to learn more about their religion]

Does every single person fast?  [No – people who are pregnant, sick, or old do not have to fast. Kids in elementary school or middle school might try fasting a little bit, but it’s mostly for teenagers and adults.]

Story of Ramadan

Teacher: Does anyone know why Ramadan was chosen as the fasting month?

Click here to read a story about why Ramadan was chosen as the fasting month. 

Eid al-Fitr

Teacher: In the Islamic calendar, each month starts with the new moon. When Muslims see the crescent moon that begins the month of Ramadan, they know the month of fasting has begun. Over the next 28 days, the moon looks bigger and bigger in the night sky until it looks full. Then, it begins to look smaller and smaller again.

Image: Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Teacher: When Muslims finally see the crescent moon again, they know the next month is beginning and the month of fasting is over. That means it’s time for Eid {EED}! The Eid is a big celebration. Muslims usually go to the mosque and pray in the morning. Then, everyone eats a big breakfast with family and friends. Sometimes, there are fairs and games and presents, too. They also collect items, like money or clothes or toys, to share with those in need. Do you celebrate any holidays that include:

  • eating special foods?
  • getting together with family and friends?
  • playing games?
  • going to a religious place?
  • opening presents?
  • collecting items for people in need?

Crafts

I have developed two crafts for K-5 kids. The first one is a simple color-by-number which will produce a crescent moon (an unofficial symbol of Islam) and star. Click here for the printable pattern.

Materials Needed: One color-by-number template and at least three different colored crayons/markers/colored pencils per student.

Process: Have the students use one color for the #1 spaces, another color for the #2 spaces, and a third color for the #3 spaces.

My second craft is a put-together Kaaba cube. Click here for the printable pattern.

Materials: One Kaaba cube template per student, scissors, tape. Gold markers or glue and gold glitter are optional.

Instructions: Cut around the outside of the template. Fold along the solid lines to form a cube. Tape the cube together using the tabs. Decorate the outside of the cube with gold-colored supplies. 

Additional Links

If you’re interested in learning more about Ramadan or Islam, check out some of these additional links.  

 

Vicki is the founder of Faith Seeker Kids, a company dedicated to interfaith education and religious literacy. She earned her Ph.D. with dual specialties in Neuroscience and Cognitive Development and worked as a full-time Psychology Professor for over a decade before becoming the Nurture Coordinator and Curriculum Specialist at a progressive-type Christian Church in Asheville, NC. She is the author of We All Have Sacred Spaces and Embracing Peace: Stories from the World’s Faith Traditions. Visit her website for archived blog posts and additional information on available resources. Or, follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.