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Technology-rich, standards-based lessons for upper elementary and middle school


Procedures for Teachers

Introductory Activity

  1. Before class begins, write the following terms on the board to one side:
    • Summer camp
    • Visiting relatives during the holidays
    • Large sporting events
    • Religious celebrations
    • Family reunions
    • Historical holidays
    • Concerts

  2. Write three headings in a row "Who goes and why?," "Why travel?," and "Experiences shared?"

  3. Have students pair up for the discussion. Ask two students to be recorders of information on the front board. Then ask the students (including the recorders) the following questions in sequence, providing some time for each pair to discuss the question independently:

    • Who attends these events and why?
    • Why do people have to travel to these events?
    • What types of experiences do the attendees share at these events?

  4. Have the recorders alternate summarizing students' answers on the front board under the appropriate question headings. Then have student pairs discuss the question, "What do people gain from attending these events?" Randomly go around the room to get some answers.

  5. Introduce this lesson by asking students if they know the meaning of the term pilgrimage. Explain to them that a pilgrimage is a journey made to some place with the purpose of honoring or paying respect to the place or someone held in great affection. Usually pilgrimages are taken to places of religious importance, like the birth places of holy people or places where they once lived.

  6. Ask students if they are familiar with any religious pilgrimages. After getting few responses, tell students that they are going to learn about the pilgrimage of Islam called the Hajj.

  7. Place on the overhead (if you have one) and distribute copies of Student Organizer 1: Pilgrimage to the Hajj.

  8. Ask students what country is represented on the map. Ask them to identify the cardinal direction each "pilgrim" is taking to reach Mecca and write these directions on their map next to the pilgrim.

  9. Ask students to keep the handout, as they will be using it again several times during this lesson.

Learning Activity 2: Background on the Hajj

  1. Open this activity by introducing the concept of rituals. Ask students "What is a ritual?" "What purposes do they serve?" If necessary, to help them to better understand, write a definition of the term ritual on the board: an established method of procedure that is faithfully followed to support the celebration or memory of an historical event or idea. Mention that rituals may contain ceremony, religious devotion and practices, and some form of the arts (music, visual or dance).

  2. Next, have students review the list of events from the first activity. Ask them to identify which events have rituals and what they are? Ask them what purposes these rituals serve?

  3. Then distribute Student Organizer 2: Background on the Hajj. Have them go to the Web site and answer the questions on the student organizer. Alternately, the information can be downloaded and printed as a handout. (This part of the activity can be done as a homework assignment.) Have students work in pairs to answer the questions.

  4. Debrief the activity with the following questions:
    • What function do these rituals have in honoring the religion or the event?
    • How do they help perpetuate the religion or the event for future generations?
    • What can people learn about others by observing rituals like these?
    • How can sharing cultural traditions help overcome stereotypes and misconceptions about another's culture?

Learning Activity 3: Watching the Video

  1. Explain to students that they will watch three segments which present one man's experience making the pilgrimage.

  2. Have students take out the map from the first activity. Tell them to locate the pilgrim in New Jersey. Tell them the person they are about to meet in the three clips made the pilgrimage from New Jersey to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.

  3. HAJJ -- PART I
    Hajj -- Part I
    Hajj -- Part II
    Have the class watch the first two videos, "Hajj -- Part I" and "Hajj -- Part II."

  4. Distribute Student Organizer 3: Viewing Guide and the transcripts for the first two segments.

  5. Divide students into pairs to review the first two transcript segments.

  6. After students have completed the questions, hold a general class discussion to review their answers.

  7. Then show students the third segment, "Hajj -- Part III." After the video, re-group students into larger groups of four to five. Distribute the transcripts from the third segment and have students discuss the associated questions on the Viewing Guide. After the groups have finished their discussions call on each group's spokesperson to present the group's responses.

Culminating Activity:

  1. Instruct students to select one of the events presented in the first activity (or they can select one of their own) to create a presentation.

  2. Once they have selected an event explain that they can choose to create an information poster, a painting or illustration, a poem, or a play. This can be an in-class or homework assignment.

  3. Explain to students they will make a two to three minute presentation on their creation to the class. The presentation should also explain why they chose the event and the decisions they made in creating the presentation. The finished works can be displayed around the classroom.

  4. After each student has presented ask the class what they learned about rituals and personal experiences like the hajj. What similarities did they see in the events they experienced and the one of Abdul Alim Mubarak? What was different? Ask students if their views or feelings about these events changed. If so, how? If not, why not? Have any of their views towards religious, cultural and/or spiritual diversity changed? You can have them write their thoughts down or open the question up for discussion.

Extension Activity

Invite people who have taken religious pilgrimages to the holy land to come and speak to the class. Check with your school or district on any established policies for bringing guest speakers into the classroom. Contact local colleges or universities for recommendations on guest speakers. Prepare students with questions they develop from their experiences in this lesson. For further information on guest speakers consult "A Teacher's Guide to Religion in the Public Schools" (available for download at