Freedom of Worship: What are Your Family Beliefs or Traditions?


In this follow-up activity to the close reading of “Freedom of Worship”, students reflect on the Freedom of Worship that they have today. Many of our family traditions and celebrations have roots in our faiths. Students will choose one of these traditions or celebrations to illustrate and caption.

Enduring Understandings /Essential Questions:

  1. Within our community groups, people have a variety of beliefs and traditions.
  2. Many of our family traditions and celebrations are related to our religious beliefs.
  3. There are many examples of people who were not able to practice their beliefs in history.
    • Do all families have the same traditions?
    • Where do our family traditions come from?
    • Within individual families that do have common traditions, are they celebrated the same way?  How are the components of the traditions the same? How are they different?



Four Freedoms
While this activity is basically completed over 2 periods, 30 minutes each, it opens the door to additional opportunities to share family traditions throughout the year, if appropriate.
Social Studies; Language Arts: Speaking and Listening; Mathematics (Reading a Graph)
Traditions; Celebrations; Beliefs


  • Students will share beliefs and traditions that are part of their family heritage through discussions and making illustrations.
  • Students will become aware of the similarities and differences of their family beliefs.
  • Using the student created illustrations, the class discusses categories and creates a picture graph of the traditions/beliefs practiced by students or themes which emerge as consistent across traditions. A picture graph is an assembly of the students’ visual imagery, grouped according to theme, holiday, or tradition, posted on a wall or board. You might choose to organize by tradition (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa)  or theme (eating together, light, making crafts) depending on what emphasis you feel will be most meaningful for your class.


In January 6, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave an Annual Address to Congress outlining four essential freedoms which he felt were important rights for all citizens of the world. Freedom of Worship was one of the freedoms highlighted. Freedom of Worship presented challenges for Norman Rockwell. His painting emphasizes, in subtle tones, a sense of harmony among diverse peoples that hold different religious beliefs. Before creating this cropped composition emphasizing the faces, expressions and hands of his subjects, he experimented with another idea. The artist first painted a country barbershop filled with clients of different races and religions being shaved or waiting their turn, “laughing and getting on well together.”  He eventually rejected this concept as “stereotypical,” leaning toward a more reflective and iconic approach.

Rockwell noted, “There is a mystery about the phrase which is lettered across the top of the painting – Each according to the dictates of his own conscience. I know I read it somewhere but no one has been able to find it any book or document.” “Each according to the dictates of his own conscience" is likely sourced as a phrase included in the Thirteen Articles of Faith by Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church. It is also found in many state constitutions in the United States, as well as our federal Constitution.

In this image, Rockwell illustrates both unity and diversity at the same time. Look for the elements that unify the picture, such as the monochromatic color palette that he employed throughout the picture. The figures are all facing the same general direction. They are all involved in the act of worshipping. Look, too, for elements that show diversity among the group. Props in the picture reflect a variety of beliefs, including a rosary, a hat, a book, a ring. Figures are looking up, down, and straight ahead, and people of different ages, races, and genders are included. Notice the textural quality of skin, hair, and hands.


Multimedia Resources

Freedom of Worship

Classroom Supplies:

  • Chart paper and markers
  • Activity sheet or drawing paper
  • Pencils and crayons



  • After having opportunity to review their close reading of the illustration, Freedom of Worship, students will be given time to think and talk about traditions or practices that their families have, such as attending religious services, celebrating religious holidays, birthdays, name days, etc.
  • Record traditions that are shared by students.
  • Students will illustrate one of the traditions that they celebrate with their families.  illustrations. Student's illustrations include details which tell the story of their traditions or beliefs.
  • Students create a simple caption for their illustration on the activity paper or on separate paper. Prepare to scribe for students who need assistance.
  • Using the illustrations, the class creates a picture graph of the traditions reflected. Allow students time to discuss the similarities and differences as seen on the graph. Also, the individual illustrations may reflect some details that reveal differences in how shared traditions are celebrated within their families. Allow time for discussion of these similarities and differences.

Throughout the year, invite students to share traditions with their classmates. There are many children’s picture books available that provide background/information about the various traditions practiced without getting into deep religious concepts. For example, Patricia Polacco’s book, Tikva Means Love, gives background information about the Jewish celebration of Sukkot .


  • Were students able to identify family traditions/celebrations that they have experienced?
  • Did all students participate in discussions and activities?
  • Did students show details related to the traditions their family celebrate?
  • Were students able to interpret the picture graph and give statements which reflected its outcome?
  • Were all students respectful during activities and discussions?


This curriculum meets the standards listed below. Look for more details on these standards please visit: ELA and Math StandardsSocial Studies Standards, Visual Arts Standards.

Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.
Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly.
Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.
Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.
Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
Ask and answer questions to help determine or clarify the meaning of words and phrases in a text.
Distinguish between information provided by pictures or other illustrations and information provided by the words in a text.
Use the illustrations and details in a text to describe its key ideas.
Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area.
Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe.
Explain how specific images (e.g., a diagram showing how a machine works) contribute to and clarify a text.
With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.
Name the author and illustrator of a text and define the role of each in presenting the ideas or information in a text.
With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the text in which they appear (e.g., what person, place, thing, or idea in the text an illustration depicts).
Write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure.
Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.
Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.
Explain why the compelling question is important to the student.
Identify disciplinary ideas associated with a compelling question.
Identify facts and concepts associated with a supporting question.
Make connections between supporting questions and compelling questions.
Compare their own point of view with others' perspectives.
Apply civic virtues when participation in school settings.
Describe how human activities affect the cultural and environmental characteristics of places and regions.
Construct an argument with reasons.
Present a summary of an argument using print, oral, and digital technologies.