Mother’s Day is a wonderful day to celebrate our mothers and all they do for us each day. And if you’re a teacher, spending a day to focus on this holiday through lessons, books, and crafts is a great way to teach about families, love, and thankfulness for those around us. But not all children have a mother at home or at all, which makes it more challenging to do a Mother’s Day lesson.
If you have a child in your class who has no mother, don’t shy away from Mother’s Day activities. This child is already aware that her family is different, and making her feel included will help give her a positive attitude towards this holiday. Instead, highlight the ways that mothers love and help us, and show your class that other family members and friends in our lives can do those things, too. This can even be helpful for kids who have moms that may not be as present in their lives as they would like.
You can choose to either include a specific alternative family dynamic as you talk about Mother’s Day that’s tailored to the child who doesn’t have a mother, or take a broader approach and talk about all different kinds of families. Start by eliciting responses from your students to the question, “What do mothers do for us?” or “Why do we love our moms?” After you get answers, discuss with your students the fact that others can do those jobs too and make us feel loved.
If you have a single father or two-father family in your class, show the similarities between mothers and fathers. Explain that dads love their kids just as much as moms and work hard to care for them. If the child without a mother has a grandmother who cares for her, teach your students that grandmothers are mothers, too. This is a wonderful approach even for kids with mothers to illustrate the bonds of extended family. This approach can be tailored to fit whatever type of family the child has.
Don’t shy away from meeting with the child’s family ahead of time as well. Explain that you’ll be doing a Mother’s Day lesson, and ask how this holiday is handled in the child’s home. You may get some wonderful ideas to incorporate into your classroom celebration.
Stories are a wonderful way to teach your class about all sorts of families. And when a child sees her family structure on the page, it helps her feel included and special. These books all deal with alternative family structures but focus on what’s important in a family: love.
All Families Are Special by: Norma Simon
When a teacher asks her students to describe their families, she gets all sorts of answers. The children come from all sorts of homes, from a mom and dad to grandparents to same-gender parents to stepparents. The book mentions divorce, death of a parent, and adoption, but all in a loving and positive way. This book is perfect for a discussion on family.
Daddy, Papa, and Me by: Leslea Newman
Some families have two dads, and this board book highlights that special relationship. The story follows a toddler and two dads as they spend a fun and loving day together. It’s perfect for kids who have two fathers and for showing those who don’t that this type of family is just as special and has just as much love.
The Daddy Book by: Todd Parr
If you have a child in your class being raised by her dad, this book is perfect. It highlights all of the wonderful things dads do for us, including jobs that are still stereotypically “mom” jobs, like baking cookies or housework. The story is an excellent companion to a discussion about daddies filling the roles and jobs that mommies do, especially when there’s no mommy at home.
Many Mother’s Day crafts and activities are wonderful, so don’t abandon them if you have a child with no mother in your class. Instead, make sure the craft can be altered to reflect whatever type of family that child has. Many times it’s as easy as changing the word “Mom” to “Dad” or “Grandma.” Those who love and care for that child will appreciate being recognized for all that they do to be a “mother” to that child.
If you are looking for activities with broader appeal, try these Mother’s Day activity ideas:
‘¢ Thankful Flower Bouquet‘”Start by cutting out a paper flower pot and writing whichever family member you are thankful for on it. Most children will write “Mom,” but those without a mother can choose whomever they’re thankful for in their family. Then have children choose 3 to 5 paper flowers and write one thing they’re thankful for about that person on each one. Glue each flower to a green pipe cleaner and glue the pipe cleaners to the back of the pot. You then have a beautiful bouquet celebrating mom or another family member for Mother’s Day.
‘¢ Love Collage‘”give each child a piece of paper with various-sized hearts on it. Instruct the children to draw a family member in each one. At the bottom, the paper can say, “Our Home is Full of Love” or “I Am Thankful We Love Each Other.”
‘¢ Medal of Honor‘”give each child a piece of paper with a blank medal or award ribbon on it. Instruct the children to draw a picture of their mother or other caregiver in the middle. At the bottom, the paper can read, “My __________ is the Greatest!” Fill in the name of the person in the medal for each child.
If you take the time to consider the dynamics of your students’ families, it will enhance your Mother’s Day classroom celebration by teaching your students that families come in all shapes and sizes, which is a wonderful lesson for everyone to learn.