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Festivals

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Cultural events

Duration/age

Duration: 
Suitable for children: 
Location: 
People dressed in traditional festive clothes

All year round many different festivals are celebrated. Some are community festivals that celebrate the harvesting of local produce. Others are cultural or religious festivals that are celebrated across the world. There are also festivals that are small and celebrate what is happening with a small group of people.

Talk with your child about what the festival is for and who celebrates it. Is it a religious festival that is celebrated as a holiday and dates back hundreds of years? Is it a festival that celebrates local artists? Talk about how they are different.

Many different cultures celebrate the new year. Exactly when the new year is celebrated depends on the calendar they use.

Our school is having a tomato festival this year. We will have to predict when we think the tomatoes will ripen so we can set a date for the festival.

Talk to your child about the different times of the year that the festivals happen. Explore with your child why they happen at different times and how long the festival will run for.

The SALA art festival goes for the whole month of August, compared to Carnevale which runs for just one weekend.

Research with your child how different festivals are celebrated. Some festivals involve family and friends gathering together in someone’s home for a special meal and a prayer. Other festivals are community events that are celebrated when people gather in the centre of town or at a special place.

The Pingxi Lantern festival is held down by the river so the lanterns can float across the water.

At Easter we go to church in the morning for the prayer service and then have a special family meal at home afterwards.

Materials you will need

  • Calendar
  • Festival

Why does this matter?

Talking about and exploring different cultural and religious festivals helps your child’s language development. It also helps them to develop planning and numeracy skills.

As you talk with your child about when the festival will happen they are exploring measurement and time. Talking about when it will happen introduces the language of time and helps your child to understand that we can measure time in many different ways.

As you talk about what the festival is for and what happens your child will be using the skills of sorting and grouping.

What does this lead to?

As children explore time they are learning to make predictions about when things will happen, how often they will occur and the likelihood of it happening.

Time can be represented as a numeral on a clock, as an event or something that happens at different times of the day. Time can be represented as something that will happen very soon or is over quickly. It can be an event that lasts a long time or something that we need to wait to happen. When we talk about time as an event or a routine, children are developing an understanding that we might use different language.

As your child helps to organise and prepare for the festival they are exploring measurement and the different language we use to describe measurement. As they help prepare for the festival they will be exploring the measurement concepts of:

  • number - How many lanterns will we light? How many days till the full moon?
  • size - How many people will go to the temple to celebrate the new year?
  • quantity - How much food will we need to prepare for the celebration dinner?
  • time - What time do the gates open at the showground for Carnevale? Is it at the same time on Saturday and Sunday?

Language to use

  • Event, major event, community event, national event, street party
  • Date, time, month, day, week, season, yearly, phases of the moon
  • Before, after, tomorrow, following, during
  • Holiday
  • Local, national, international
  • Traditional, contemporary, cultural, religious
  • Season, warmer month, cooler month, autumn, winter, summer, spring
  • Stalls, fireworks, parades, parties, costumes, gifts, food, cuisine, entertainment

Questions to use

  • Do all festivals happen on the same day each year?
  • Will the timing of the full moon change when the festival happens?
  • Do all cultures celebrate the same things?
  • Are festival celebrations only held at night?
  • Why do people celebrate different events?

Useful tips

  1. Look online to find information about the different festivals celebrated all around the world.
  2. See www.festivalsadelaide.com.au or www.southaustralia.com/things-to-do/whats-on for different community and cultural festivals across South Australia.
  3. For more ideas take a look at the other GreatStart celebration activities.
  4. The Migration Museum often holds exhibitions highlighting different festivals.
  5. Remember to talk to your child in your home language.

More ideas

  1. Hold your own street party.
  2. Borrow books from the library about different festivals and celebrations.
  3. Multicultural SA has a list of the different cultural festivals celebrated each month.

Variation by age

Three to five year olds

  • Make a list of the different cultural festivals your family celebrates. Once you have your list mark them on the family calendar.
  • Sort the festivals your family celebrates into different groups. Try grouping by how long the celebration lasts, the season the festival is held in or by what happens at the festival.
  • If the festival involves a costume or dressing up allow your child to help make or prepare the costume.
  • Ask your child to help make traditional food that will be eaten during the celebrations. You could include the recipe in your family cookbook.

Questions to ask

  • How long does the festival go for?
  • What day does the festival happen on?
  • What will we wear for the festival?
  • Do we need to make special food for the festival?

Language to use

  • Time, date, month, moon cycle
  • Morning, afternoon, night-time, all day, weekend, weekday
  • Costume, clothing, mask, hat, ornament
  • Cuisine, cooking, local produce, traditional food, offering
  • Music, art, dance, performance, activities, exhibitions, parade, march