When I was learning in yeshiva, I came home for Pesach and saw a homework sheet that Rabbi Moshe Juravel, a seasoned Mechanech in Baltimore (who studied in Lakewood) had sent home with my second grader brother.
He had asked each child to ask his father what HIS Minhag was for Karpas. I was so impressed with that simple idea! It brought back a memory from my elementary school.
When I began in day school, in third or fourth grade, (I had the same Rebbe in both) my Rebbe announced that his friend, a Rabbi from Israel, was coming from Israel to speak to us. This was big news as very few people could travel to or from Eretz Yisrael in the early 60's. When he came to our classroom, after his speech, the rebbe asked him "Would you like a drink of water?" He said, "yes." The rebbe handed him a glass, the Rabbi said, "Burich atuw ...Eloy-kynee meilech Hu-oylam..."
When he finished, everyone answered "Amein" while I thought "my father knows how to read Hebrew! I don't understand why"(because I learned the American pronunciation) "but if Rebbe's friend speaks that way, then it must be ok!"
When I became a Rebbe, especially when I had a class from many different groups, Ashkenaz, Sephard, Chabad, Jecke, Israeli and Teiman, I tried to bring up such differences. (Of course I asked the question about Karpas!)
I also made a "Gadol of the Month" from the last 150 years except Tishrei. I picked those that had a Yahrzeit in the month. And then gave a picture [except for Gedalyah Ben Achikam and R Yisroel Salanter, who has no known picture] and gave a quick biography, descriptions of sefarim or important topics they stressed, especially those that have relevance to the kids (because of their parents, their teachers or their community, or other things they are aware of should be.
- 24 Elul: The Chaferz Chaim; Radin, Poland: Shmiras haLashon & Mishneh Brurah
- 3 Tishrei: Gedalyah Ben Achikam
- 7 Cheshvan Rav Meir Shapira (Polishe Chassidis); Daf Yomi; Askan (member of Polish Parliament); Rosh Yeshiva of Chachmei Lublin.
- 2 Kislev: R' Aharon Kotler: Torah Lishmah
- 27 Teves: R' Samson R. Hirsch, Frankfurt: 19 Letters, Horeb, The Pentateuch; Torah im Derech Eretz; established separate Orthodox Community in Frankfurt, Germany
- 11 Shevat: R' Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson (the "Frierdickeh Lubavitcher Rebbe") re-establishing Chassidus on American shores; "America is 'nisht anderesht'!" (Not different)
- 25 Shevat: R' Yisroel Lipkin (Salanter): Mussar; thinking about our actions; esp bein Adam LaChaveiro.
- 27 Adar 1: Sarah Schenirer, started the idea of formal Chinuch for Girls in Lithuania, Poland etc, without which Judaism was dying in Europe; Bais Yaakov Seminary in Cracow; etc etc
- 19 Iyar: Rav Ezra Attia; Rosh Yeshiva of Porat Yosef in Yerushalayim which produced many Sephardic Rabbanim
- 6 Sivan: R Avraham Mordechai of Ger; re-establishing Polishe Chassidis in Eretz Yisroel. [This was done in 3rd grade]
I also would sometimes compare Minhagim and show that, although they seem different, they are based on similar ideas (ie Karpas) or they are essentially the same (I had one group of four Chabad first graders who wanted to daven from Nusach Ari [normally they would be allowed to do that in 2nd grade but one of them was politely insistent and persuaded the others to be"good Chassidim of the Rebbe".] So I made a worksheet showing the 15 Birchos HaShachar (morning Blessings) in three groups side by side, In the order of Ashkenaz, Sefard and Chabad (Ari). We read the endings group by group and then I asked them to do a match.
The idea was to show that, except for a few slight variations in wording, they were the same, even though they were "different." I thought that this was a very important way to show the other kids that they were just fine and the Chabad children would understand that they had their way but wouldn't look down on the others.