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February 13, 2018

Teaching About and Celebrating the Lunar New Year

By Shari Carter
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    One of the biggest reasons I love being a teacher is that I constantly learn new things. My kids are not just learning from me — we learn from one another. I love diving into topics that I am not totally familiar with, such as the Lunar New Year, because it gets me super excited to learn and share new information with my students!

    The Lunar New Year is a national holiday celebrated by more than just the people of China. Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Laos, and many other Asian countries celebrate this holiday each year. Here are some fun facts and traditions, paired with activities, for your children to learn more about this celebration.

    STEM Challenge: Build a Marshmallow Dog

    Fact: February 16, 2018 marks the first day of the Lunar New Year. 2018 is the year of the Dog.

    I love a good STEM challenge, and this one did not disappoint! STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM activities provide hands-on opportunities for children to think about and learn from. STEM is VERY important in the early years of education.

    After talking with my students about this being the Year of the Dog, I gave them the challenge to construct their own dogs. They used marshmallows and toothpicks to build them, and while the cost of supplies was low, the excitement was especially high! I created an activity sheet for the kids to use when they were finished.

    They had to record the materials they used, and draw their dogs. Look at what a great job they did!

    Nothing makes me happier than seeing my students learn through play. STEM is kind of sneaky like that — it has a “focus on fun approach” to learning, and I just LOVE that!

    Lunar New Year Dragon Craft

    Fact: The animals in the Chinese calendar are the dog, boar, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, and rooster. In Asian cultures, dragons are symbols of strength and power, and can provide good fortune to people who are worthy of it.

    After reading, Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin, my kids became super excited about dragons. Their favorite part of the story was when Jie-Jie, Ba-Ba, and Mei-Mei’s aunt “woke up” the dragon in the eye-opening ceremony. With all this excitement brewing, I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to let my students make their very own dragons!

    All you’ll need to make these dragons is construction paper, scissors, and a little bit of glue. For step-by-step directions and more details, please read Jennifer Solis's Lunar New Year Dragon Craft Project. Her dragon was so cute, I just couldn't wait to do it with my children!

    I suggest using glue sticks instead of white glue on this art project. The paper chains are tricky for little kindergartener hands and the tackiness of the glue sticks helps to keep the paper from slipping as the children connect each link. I am partial to activities that give my kinders opportunity to strengthen their hands and build fine motor skills. I had my early finishers help those who were struggling making their chains (dragon bodies).

    When the kids finished their dragon bodies, they began working on the dragon head. I made a dragon head template because I thought it would be a little hard for my kids to freehand it. Once the kids cut it out, I had them fold it and begin putting the teeth in the mouths of their dragons. I loved that this project gave us an opportunity to discuss shapes and their attributes.

    My kids were so excited to take home their dragons! As we were walking out to the buses, our principal asked one student why we made dragons. My teacher heart spilled over with joy when my little guy told her all about the Lunar New Year, and the role dragons play in it. It was the sweet!

     

    Rice: An Important Food Around the World!

    Rice is an important staple in the diet of many Asian cultures (and beyond). I decided I would cook some for my kindergarteners and they all seemed to enjoy it — well, almost all of them….

    It was so easy to cook in our classroom. I just brought my rice cooker and rice to school, turned it on during our last recess, and about 20 minutes later, we were all eating sticky rice. I even visited my local Panda Express who were more than happy to give me a class set of chopsticks and fortune cookies. I sure do love businesses who support education!

     

    Along with eating rice, my students practiced eating with chopsticks — some of them for the first time!

     

    Lucky Money

    Tradition: Giving lucky money in red envelopes (hongbao) during the Lunar New Year is a common practice among Asian cultures. Red is considered to be a lucky color in many Asian cultures. Lucky money is given to children and single adults.

    My children were so excited when I gave each of them their lucky coins. You can find these coins at your local party shop, or visit Zurcher’s to get some to share with your class!

    Chinese Number Writing

    This was one of my favorite activities we did for our Lunar New Year’s study. My students loved this number writing in Chinese, and the benefits of doing this engaging activity include:

    • Listening and following directions
    • Number recognition
    • Fine motor skill development
    • Appreciation of diversity

    After Googling and getting directions on writing Chinese numbers, I had my kids follow along with me in a step-by-step lesson. We used pencils at first, and I encouraged them to draw their numbers very lightly — just in case they made a mistake and needed to erase. When finished, they could use their markers and trace the pencil drawings. They loved learning something new, and I was amazed at how well my kids could write their numbers! Please use my Chinese Number activity sheet if you would like to do this with your little sweeties!  

    Here's hoping you and your students have fun celebrating the Lunar New Year. I hope you can use some of these activities and that you always remember, when you love what you teach, your students will love what they learn!

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for following my blog, and here’s to a great February filled with lots of fun learning, and Good Fortune!

    xo-Shari

     

     

     

     

    One of the biggest reasons I love being a teacher is that I constantly learn new things. My kids are not just learning from me — we learn from one another. I love diving into topics that I am not totally familiar with, such as the Lunar New Year, because it gets me super excited to learn and share new information with my students!

    The Lunar New Year is a national holiday celebrated by more than just the people of China. Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Laos, and many other Asian countries celebrate this holiday each year. Here are some fun facts and traditions, paired with activities, for your children to learn more about this celebration.

    STEM Challenge: Build a Marshmallow Dog

    Fact: February 16, 2018 marks the first day of the Lunar New Year. 2018 is the year of the Dog.

    I love a good STEM challenge, and this one did not disappoint! STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM activities provide hands-on opportunities for children to think about and learn from. STEM is VERY important in the early years of education.

    After talking with my students about this being the Year of the Dog, I gave them the challenge to construct their own dogs. They used marshmallows and toothpicks to build them, and while the cost of supplies was low, the excitement was especially high! I created an activity sheet for the kids to use when they were finished.

    They had to record the materials they used, and draw their dogs. Look at what a great job they did!

    Nothing makes me happier than seeing my students learn through play. STEM is kind of sneaky like that — it has a “focus on fun approach” to learning, and I just LOVE that!

    Lunar New Year Dragon Craft

    Fact: The animals in the Chinese calendar are the dog, boar, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, and rooster. In Asian cultures, dragons are symbols of strength and power, and can provide good fortune to people who are worthy of it.

    After reading, Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin, my kids became super excited about dragons. Their favorite part of the story was when Jie-Jie, Ba-Ba, and Mei-Mei’s aunt “woke up” the dragon in the eye-opening ceremony. With all this excitement brewing, I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to let my students make their very own dragons!

    All you’ll need to make these dragons is construction paper, scissors, and a little bit of glue. For step-by-step directions and more details, please read Jennifer Solis's Lunar New Year Dragon Craft Project. Her dragon was so cute, I just couldn't wait to do it with my children!

    I suggest using glue sticks instead of white glue on this art project. The paper chains are tricky for little kindergartener hands and the tackiness of the glue sticks helps to keep the paper from slipping as the children connect each link. I am partial to activities that give my kinders opportunity to strengthen their hands and build fine motor skills. I had my early finishers help those who were struggling making their chains (dragon bodies).

    When the kids finished their dragon bodies, they began working on the dragon head. I made a dragon head template because I thought it would be a little hard for my kids to freehand it. Once the kids cut it out, I had them fold it and begin putting the teeth in the mouths of their dragons. I loved that this project gave us an opportunity to discuss shapes and their attributes.

    My kids were so excited to take home their dragons! As we were walking out to the buses, our principal asked one student why we made dragons. My teacher heart spilled over with joy when my little guy told her all about the Lunar New Year, and the role dragons play in it. It was the sweet!

     

    Rice: An Important Food Around the World!

    Rice is an important staple in the diet of many Asian cultures (and beyond). I decided I would cook some for my kindergarteners and they all seemed to enjoy it — well, almost all of them….

    It was so easy to cook in our classroom. I just brought my rice cooker and rice to school, turned it on during our last recess, and about 20 minutes later, we were all eating sticky rice. I even visited my local Panda Express who were more than happy to give me a class set of chopsticks and fortune cookies. I sure do love businesses who support education!

     

    Along with eating rice, my students practiced eating with chopsticks — some of them for the first time!

     

    Lucky Money

    Tradition: Giving lucky money in red envelopes (hongbao) during the Lunar New Year is a common practice among Asian cultures. Red is considered to be a lucky color in many Asian cultures. Lucky money is given to children and single adults.

    My children were so excited when I gave each of them their lucky coins. You can find these coins at your local party shop, or visit Zurcher’s to get some to share with your class!

    Chinese Number Writing

    This was one of my favorite activities we did for our Lunar New Year’s study. My students loved this number writing in Chinese, and the benefits of doing this engaging activity include:

    • Listening and following directions
    • Number recognition
    • Fine motor skill development
    • Appreciation of diversity

    After Googling and getting directions on writing Chinese numbers, I had my kids follow along with me in a step-by-step lesson. We used pencils at first, and I encouraged them to draw their numbers very lightly — just in case they made a mistake and needed to erase. When finished, they could use their markers and trace the pencil drawings. They loved learning something new, and I was amazed at how well my kids could write their numbers! Please use my Chinese Number activity sheet if you would like to do this with your little sweeties!  

    Here's hoping you and your students have fun celebrating the Lunar New Year. I hope you can use some of these activities and that you always remember, when you love what you teach, your students will love what they learn!

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for following my blog, and here’s to a great February filled with lots of fun learning, and Good Fortune!

    xo-Shari

     

     

     

     

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