One of my fabulous co-teachers and I were in the middle of an exciting snowflake activity after reading The Snowy Day by Jack Eztra Keats when we hadn't thought all of the religious factors all the way through. We were handing out the marshmallows and pretzels and allowing them to smoosh everything together to make symmetrical snowflakes like Keats. Once they had finished with 2 snowflakes they could eat one of them and save one for home.
One child was allergic to marshmallows and his table looked at him with pity as he played with his pretzels. His friend said, "The only thing I can't eat is anything with pig".
And that was when I realized that tomorrow is Eid, a fourth of the class is Muslim, and here we having the class stuff gelatin filled marshmallows in their mouths.
SO, um, do your parents let you eat marshmallows at home? I asked.
"No! I've never had these before!" the little devout boy said, holding up the puffy white haven of sugar.
"Realllllyy.... What about you?" I started taking a poll. Half of the Muslims of the class reported they could eat the marshmallows, some reported they really just weren't sure... they had never eaten them before but didn't think it would be a problem. One little boy shouted out, "Don't worry Mrs. Lipstick! I'm another kind of Muslim. Not that kind!"
The devout boy looked at me with big eyes. "I ate a teeny tiny piece and nothing happened" he whispered.
"Oh honey, it wont make you sick, it's just that they use a tiny bit of pig to make it."
His eyes looked sad as he carefully placed his marshmallows on the table. "Ok, I can't eat pig."
We decided that if the children were Muslim they could take both snowflakes home and ask their parents if they could eat them or not.
A few minutes later I turned around to find the devout boy with white powder all over his face and no snowflake in sight. I suppose eating it at school is better than taking it home to have your mother tell you to throw it away, never allowing you to know the sweet taste of marshmallows.