Happy Chinese New Year!

My class loves to study other cultures. Being a teacher educated in one of the true melting pots of America, Long Beach, California, a large port city, I was taught how important it is for other cultures in your classroom to be represented in your read alouds, hero study, art projects and social studies units.  So every year I like to introduce the students to Chinese New Year. It’s fun to ask the parents of several students to bring in cultural items from their home that will teach the students something about the Japanese, the Chinese or the Korean culture.

We’re all ready for the Chinese New Year parade
Addie, Andrew, and Mrs. Kim, showing the Korean festival outfits.

 One of my Korean students is Andrew. And his mom is Mrs. Kim.  She offered to come in and give the kids some realia of Asian culture. Mrs. Kim brought in some Korean games, festival outfits, Korean coin money, and some rice cakes (you boil them, they aren’t cakes at all, who knew?) She is one of my monthly mom helpers. We LOVE mom helpers in our class!

Here is Vera,  showing the rice cakes. The American variety are dry
puffed rice…who knew? These look much tastier!
After we read a cool Weekly Reader on Chinese New Year celebrations and the story of Sam and the Lucky Money, a real heart-warming story of how a Chinese boy is given leisees, or “lucky money” by grandparents to celebrate Chinese New Year. After perusing all the shops in Chinatown, he gives it away to a homeless man with no shoes, to help him buy some warm socks. I always get choked up and start tearing up as I get to the end of the story I’m such a sap when it comes to a tear jerker ending.
Then we read and act out the 7 Chinese Brothers. It is always a hoot! I have chinese pointy hats I bought last summer at an outdoor market and we use those to depict the different brothers. They love to dramatize and role play, we have some future drama queens in our class!
Then we eat fortune cookies and play with chopsticks, trying to pick up little fuzzy balls with our chopsticks. Then we write fake fortunes and roll them up and everybody gets to come up and get one. Nobody knows who wrote them or who receives the one they wrote. Well, yes they actually are bad at keeping secrets, so by the end of the day everybody knows who got whose.
The next day we do some fun art. We made some Chinese lanterns out of construction paper. I folded paper in half and we cut across the entire piece in in inch increments, leaving the edges uncut about 1/2 inch.
If you want the kids to cut straight lines, have them draw ruler lines
one inch apart, good math lesson for learning inches!
Open the folded part, wrap it around, then glue together, that’s it! Easy!
We then glued a 1 inch white strip to top and to bottom edge.

We wrote on the white strips some chinese numbers we had in our Weekly Reader. It was fun for the kids and now they all what a 1 and a 5 look like and how to say them in chinese! It was kinda cool!
Chinese Character Necklaces
I saw these necklaces at Oriental Trading and thought we could do something like these using Modge Podge and some small tiles with holes screwed in them. I’ve seen these at art fairs where they have used scrabble pieces with pictures or letters Modge Podged on top. Kids would love these for Chinese New Year too.

500 Fabulous Foam Self-Adhesive Chinese New Year Shapes
Oriental Trading…a great place for crafty doo dads  Check it out!
I think this package is upside down, my bad!. But we used these symbols of chinese lfe on our
pretty Chinese lanterns we made. Check them out in the photos below. 

We then added a white strip along the tops and bottoms and put Japanese numbers and characters along the top in black.Then we used some Oriental Trading peel and stick foam decorations for Chinese New Years to decorate along the tops and bottoms of the lanterns. I think each student used 8 of them, 4 for top, 4 for the bottom strip. Lastly, we added a few crepe paper streamers to each one with a dragon or fish or lion decoration the students had colored. Then we glued them to the streamers. Don’t they look cute?

Notice the black scrolling on the white strips…it’s numbers!

Then we watched a Utube of a Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco’s Chinatown with the giant dragon puppets maneuvered by a 5 or 6 guys. We read another story from our Basal Literature book called Chinatown.  Peter taught us something that I didn’t know. Karate is a Japanese sport. Tae Kwan Do is Korean, and Kung Fu is Chinese. So there you have it. I learned something today from a 6 year old!  Peter takes Tae Kwan Do, that is him in the white Tae Kwan Do outfit with the black belt.

Peter is showing his Tae Kwan Do outfit and some Korean games…

Our classroom ceiling decked out with our handmade Chinese lanterns…

Another book I will read them is Two of Everything. It was written by an acquaintance of mine who is Chinese. It depicts the culture in the homes and decor and dress of the characters. It is a cute story too about how everything that falls into the magic pot doubles, until finally the owner of the pot falls in and doubles himself! That presents a problem because his wife really doesn’t want two of HIM!  gee, being a wife myself, I wonder why? Hmmmm.
Another really wonderful children’s book. I read to the class during Chinese New Year celebration week. Check it out below. 

The Chinese kids are showing their “leisees” with Lucky Money.
Then we made some dragon puppets for the 1st/2nd grade parade around the school, this year on February 3rd. We will be singing, banging and clanging drums and cymbols, and yelling Gung Hay Fat Choy to everybody. That means happy new year in Cantonese. It really means “may good fortunes come your way” if you want a literal translation. I like how in the Asian culture red means “Lucky”. So the red dragon coming by your store or shop will bring you good luck. It’s kind of a sweet notion.  I gave all the students leisees or lucky money red envelopes and told them to do some special chores around the house so their parents can fill them with “lucky money!” Picture HERE 

Our colorful Chinese New Year masks! I bet you wanna come to the parade now, right?
So here are our dragon puppets. We colored them, put some groovy feathers on top and some large, round, sequins, to add a little BLING, and we cut out the eyes of the dragon so we could look out of the mask. How do you like them? Well….anyway…. I hope you all have a Happy Chinese New Year!
Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

2 thoughts on “Happy Chinese New Year!”

  1. You know I think I got it from one of my own children's teachers way back in the day. They are all now in their late twenties with kids of their own! EEK! I'll try to scan one for you and put it up this week.

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