Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Celebrating Diwali

Exploring the Festival of Lights Through Expository Writing

Lisa Loughlin, Kelsey Willems | Published: November 6th, 2023 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 8th, 9th, 10th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course World Literature


In this lesson, students explore the celebration of Diwali while practicing expository writing skills. Students read and summarize the various legends of Diwali and the significance of each day of the festival. Next, students create anchor charts for each day using symbols, images, and their paraphrased summaries. Students end the lesson with a two-part project exploring one cultural aspect of Diwali by creating an example of it and writing an expository essay.

Essential Question(s)

Why do we learn about other cultures' celebrations?



Students brainstorm common traditions associated with familiar holidays.


Students read about the legends of Diwali and write summaries of what they learned.


Students create an Anchor Chart for each day of Diwali and paraphrase their significance.


Students complete a Choice Board project and compose an expository essay.


Students complete a 3-2-1 to summarize what they learned.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Internet Access

  • Chromebooks, iPads, laptops

  • Projector Access

  • Pens/Pencils

  • Chart Markers

  • Big Stickies

  • Construction Paper, Markers, Colored Pencils, Crayons

  • Colored Rice, Beads, Feathers (Optional)

  • Diwali Summary & Paraphrase handout (attached, 1 per student) 

  • Choice Board handout (attached, 1 per student) 

  • Fashion handout (attached, optional) 

  • Tasting Menu handout (attached, optional) 

  • Rangoli handout (attached, optional) 

  • Decor handout (attached, optional)


10 Minute(s)

Use the attached Lesson Slides to facilitate the lesson. Display slides 1-4 and review the essential question and lesson objectives.

Transition to slide 6 and review the directions for the Chain Notes strategy. Assign each row or table a traditional holiday. Choose holidays that the students may be familiar with. Some examples include the following:

  • Thanksgiving

  • Christmas

  • Halloween

  • Valentine’s Day

  • St. Patrick’s Day

  • Easter

  • 4th of July

  • Día De Los Muertos

  • Hanukkah

Using a pen or pencil and a sheet of notebook paper, invite students to answer a question about their holiday. Allow students one minute to respond before rotating their paper to the next student in their row or table who will answer a different question. Use slide 7 to help facilitate this activity.

  • Round 1: What is this holiday celebrating?

  • Round 2: Where is this holiday celebrated?

  • Round 3: What kind of decor or symbols reflect your holidays?

  • Round 4: What is typically worn during your holiday?

  • Round 5: What foods are usually eaten?

  • Round 6: What other holiday traditions are there that haven’t already been stated?

The length of the Chain Notes silent discussion can vary depending on row/table sizes or it can continue until each paper returns to its original owner. Once students have finished the Chain Notes activity, facilitate a brief discussion using the above questions as a guide.


20 Minute(s)

Transition to slide 8 and facilitate a brief discussion about the differences between summary and paraphrase as students practice both during this lesson. Provide possible examples in the form of movies or TV shows or invite students to provide some of their own. 

Transition to slide 9 and distribute the attached Diwali Summary & Paraphrase handout to each student. Next, number students 1 through 4 and instruct them to write the title that corresponds with their number on their handout as seen on slide 9. Review the Diwali Summary & Paraphrase handout and the directions explaining that students should have a summary for not just their assigned legend, but also for every day of Diwali. 

Select the “The Many Legends of Diwali” link on the slide to introduce the web resource students will be using during the lesson. Read the initial description and the passage labeled “The festival of lights” to the class.

Transition to slide 10 to share the shortened URL link and QR code. Direct students to access their electronic devices and log onto the website. Allow students 15-20 minutes to read their specific section and create a 3-5 sentence summary for each of the following about their specific legend:

  • Day 1 - Dhanteras

  • Day 2 - Naraka Chaturdashi / Choti Diwali

  • Day 3 - Diwali

  • Day 4 - Govardhan Puja

  • Day 5 - Bhai Dooj


20 Minute(s)

Next, transition to slide 11 to review the directions for the rotating Anchor Charts strategy. Explain that students will create visual and written reminders for each day of Diwali from what they learned. Number students 1-10 and instruct them to go to the poster with the corresponding group number. Provide students with at least 2-3 chart markers at each poster; they will take these markers as they rotate.

Review the definition for paraphrase again as it is listed at the top of their Diwali Summary & Paraphrase handout. Direct students to use their handout, the Google Arts and Culture resource, and their Chromebooks to create an Anchor Chart for their designated Day of Diwali. Transition to slide 12 and review what each poster must have.

  • Write what the day is called.

  • Write 3-5 sentences paraphrasing the significance of that day.

  • List traditions.

  • Incorporate pictures/symbols associated with that day

Students will have three minutes at their initial poster before rotating to the next poster. Students should visit each day’s poster and keep adding new information; this equates to a total of five rotations. Below is an example of how long each rotation should be:

  • Rotation One: 3 minutes

  • Rotation Two: 2 minutes

  • Rotation Three: 2 minutes

  • Rotation Four: 1 minutes

  • Rotation Five: 1 minute

Students can rotate a sixth time, so that they arrive at their original poster. They can be given an additional 3-5 minutes to complete their poster with time permitting.

Facilitate a brief discussion by reviewing what each Day of Diwali is about and invite students to share some of the things written on their posters.


100 Minute(s)

Distribute the attached Choice Board handout to each student and display slide 13. Review the directions for the Choice Board strategy and allow students 1-2 class periods to complete this assignment. Allow more time, if needed. Use the attached optional Choice Board handouts: Fashion handout, Tasting Menu handout, Rangoli handout, and the Decor handout. Alternatively, invite students to complete their projects on posterboard, cardstock, copy paper, Google slides, and other approved medias. 

Students should be allotted at least one class period to complete their project if using the optional handouts and one class period to complete their essay. If students are constructing their projects on a larger scale, consider providing students at least two class periods to complete their project and an additional day to complete their essay.


10 Minute(s)

Transition to slide 18 and review the directions for the 3-2-1 strategy. Using the same sheet of notebook paper as their Chain Notes, invite students to complete the 3-2-1 activity by having them reflect on the following:

  • Three things you learned from this lesson.

  • Two things you liked about this lesson.

  • One big takeaway about cultural celebrations.

Invite students to share-out their responses and/or submit their responses for a grade.