Overview: School routines, rituals and traditions have a large role in the formation of community and students’ comfort levels while learning. This lesson plan helps teachers provoke discussion and reflection among students about the impact of routines and rituals in their learning environments and their personal lives and how their home culture impacts that thinking.

To access the video recording of the webinar detailing this lesson, please click here.

Materials Needed: Definitions of routine, ritual and tradition. 

Learning Outcomes: Students will document their own rituals in order to understand how and why people around the world have documented and celebrated their rituals and traditions. Students will also reconsider the roles of routines, rituals and traditions in their school and classroom life. 

Learning Objectives: By the end of the activity, students will be able to… 

  • Listen actively and thoughtfully. 
  • Describe and explain the role of rituals in everyday life. 
  • Talk about what routines and rituals are important in their educational experience. 


  1. Opening activity: Please model a moment of silence for 1-3 minutes. (Alt. 1. Opening activity: If running this activity virtually, ask students to participate in a classroom routine or ritual that is no longer the same or possible in a virtual class setting.)
  2. Discussion
  • What just happened? 
  • What did that feel like? 
  • How did it change the atmosphere? 
  • Explain the role that silence can play in creating a sacred space and in ritual. 
  • What other rituals do we have in our schools/classrooms? 


  1. Have students discuss as a group what are a “routine”, a “ritual” and a “tradition” and work together to create a working definition for the words. (If virtual, consider creating a word cloud, using a Google doc or a Padlet.)
  2. Have students make a list of routines, rituals and traditions in your classroom/school.
  3. Have students reflect individually:
    1. What are some of the rituals you have in your own life (at home, school, socially, etc.)?
    2. Choose one personal ritual and write down/brainstorm ideas to the following:
    3. Who is involved in this ritual? (ex: family members, just yourself, friends, ancestors, someone else etc.)
    4. What does it look like?
    5. What objects or symbols are involved?
    6. Where and when does it usually take place?
    7. What is the significance/meaning of the ritual? Have students present about their personal ritual (or share virtually via Padlet, Flipgrid, Google Slides, etc.).
  4. Optional: Have students complete extension activities below and present their work to the class.
  • Have students interview someone directly (ex: immediate family member) or virtually (ex: neighbor, relative, exchange student, etc.). Ask the interviewee about their personal rituals using the questions above. 
  • Have students create a storyboard of 3-5 images representing their ritual. Alternately, have students take photos depicting their ritual. These can include objects related to it, the location of it, the people involved, etc. 
  • Have students consider how classroom life/learning has changed since things have gone “virtual” due to COVID-19. This allows students to process their new reality and brainstorm ways to make the best of their new circumstance. 
  • Have students compare their classroom routines for various subject areas to hypothesize why some routines and rituals are in place for some classes and not others. 
  • Have students compare their routine to that of a student in a partner classroom in another country or from that of a student in elementary/high school to help them determine why those routines and rituals are in place. 6. Go through discussion questions with the group. 


  1. What did you observe about everyone’s personal rituals?
  2. What common rituals or themes of rituals did you observe?
  3. What do rituals teach us about culture and cultural values?
  4. What did you learn about yourself?
  5. What did you learn about others?
  6. Describe how you can teach others about your ritual and culture? 

Extension in Content Area 

World Languages: Have students compare their school routines, rituals and traditions with those of a school in the target culture. 

Social Studies: Compare societal routines and rituals with that of different time periods and/or cultures. 

Family & Consumer Sciences: Have students consider what routines are put in place for safety when cooking/child rearing as compared to rituals and traditions for passing along one’s heritage. 

English Language Arts: Have students compare their routines, rituals and traditions with that of a character or group that they read about in a novel or non-fiction text. 

For more lesson plan ideas, please visit the AFS-USA Teacher’s Toolbox

For questions, comments or suggestions, please email us at [email protected].

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