LESSON

Understanding Religious Clothing

In this lesson, students will explore how articles of clothing are linked to different religions.
Grade Level

Objectives

Activities meet the following objectives:

  • identify different articles of clothing associated with various religions
  • research some of the issues around different religious clothing pieces through a WebQuest
  • create a skit to educate others about religious clothing
Essential Questions
  • What are some common articles of clothing associated with different religions?
  • Why is it important to understand the issues around these articles of clothing?
  • How can knowledge about these articles of clothing promote acceptance and tolerance of others? 
Materials
  • Handout: Common Religious Clothing: The Basics 
  • Handout: The Origins of Religious Clothing: A WebQuest 
  • Handout: Understanding Religious Clothing: Guide to Writing a Skit 

Vocabulary 

bonnet [ bänət ] (noun) a head covering, usually black, worn by some Amish or Mennonite women

cross [ krôs ] (noun) a symbol in Christianity that some Christians wear in jewelry, such as a necklace

hijab [ hiˈjäb ] (noun) a head scarf worn by some Muslim women

kippah [ kēˈpä ] (noun) the Hebrew word for a cap worn by some Jews as a sign of respect [to God] when praying or attending a synagogue; also commonly referred to as a yarmulke (ˈyämə(l)kə), which is a Yiddish term

kippah [ kēˈpä ] (noun) the Hebrew word for a cap worn by some Jews as a sign of respect (to God) when praying or attending a synagogue; also commonly referred to as a yarmulke (ˈyämə(l)kə), which is a Yiddish term

turban [ ˈtərbən ] (noun) a long cloth wrapped around the head, used by some Sikh or Muslim men

 

Overview

In the United States, different types of religious clothing exist just about everywhere. In this lesson, students will explore how articles of clothing are linked to different religions. First they will research issues around some common articles of religious clothing, such as the hijab and the yarmulke. Then they will explore misconceptions and stereotypes associated with those articles of clothing.

Although these classroom activities primarily focus on Islam, Judaism and Christianity, we encourage you to adapt these classroom activities purposefully and thoughtfully to include other religions, faith traditions (e.g., Taoism, Wicca and/or Buddhism) and non-theistic beliefs represented in your school and the students’ communities.

 

Procedure

1. This lesson is about different kinds of religious clothing. Some religions require special kinds of clothing; others do not. With a partner, read aloud the terms and definitions of some common religious clothing pieces (Common Religious Clothing: The Basics, Handout 1). 
(Note: Consider showing and discussing the following examples: bonnet, cross, hijab, turban and yarmulke.) 
If you and your partner can think of any other kinds of religious clothing, use the blank spaces in the table to record those. 
(Note: Take a moment to clarify that not all religions or faith traditions require their members to wear special clothing. Also explain that some people do not belong to a religious group, but may still have clothing preferences or requirements.)

2. Record each of the following statements in your journal. Beside each statement, write whether you agree or disagree and explain why.

  • Clothing is the best way to communicate who you are to strangers.
  • I have never judged anyone by what they wear.
  • I believe that people should not be allowed to wear religious clothing in public places.

3. Explore some of the issues around these different types of religious clothing through a WebQuest. Use The Origins of Religious Clothing: A WebQuest (Handout 2) to guide you.

 

Class Project

(Optional)
In small groups, create a skit to teach others about the common articles of religious clothing you learned about in class. Use Understanding Religious Clothing: Guide to Writing a Skit (Handout 3) to guide you. 

Consider the following questions as you prepare your skit:

  • What is a common misconception people might have about this article of clothing?
  • How can you provide a respectful depiction of this religious group?
  • Take turns performing your skit for your own class or consider performing skits with other grades/classes to a larger audience. (Note: Discuss the importance of cultural sensitivity. Emphasize that while students are preparing to portray common stereotypes, they should also take into account the point of view of the member of that religion, remaining respectful throughout.)

 

Reflection/Self-Evaluation for Students

How has what you’ve learned changed your thinking? Choose one of the following prompts to guide you in a reflection about this lesson:

1. Have you seen students in your school wearing religious clothing? How can awareness about these kinds of clothing help these students and the school community at large?

2. What are some ways to teach others about the different types of religious clothing you learned about today?

3. Do you belong to a religion that has special types of clothing? If so, what kind of clothing do you wear? How does it make you feel to wear it? What do you wish others would understand about your religious clothing?