Lunar New Year is the most important celebration in Chinese culture, so I thought it would be fun to learn about it in our home too! From the time we did Christmas Around the World when I was in 4th grade I’ve been fascinated with other cultures and their traditions (hence the Cultural Anthropology degree!) and I’d love to pass on that interest to my littles. So join us this week as we dive into how people in China and Chinese citizens worldwide celebrate the Lunar New Year!
-“Runaway Wok” and “Runaway Rice Cake” story comparison: I read “The Runaway Wok” and “The Runaway Rice Cake” to my littles, then we discussed how the stories were the same and how they were different.
-CNY write the room: I printed, laminated and hung these CNY write the room cards from Teachers Pay Teachers around our schoolroom, then had my little go around the room and write each one while saying the letters to work on handwriting and letter recognition.
–CNY Beginning reader: I printed, cut out and stapled one of these for each of my littles then we read each page together and they colored the picture. I found them on Teachers Pay Teachers for free!
-CNY handwriting practice: I printed this handwriting practice page from Teachers Pay Teachers and had my 5 year old practice tracing and saying each letter, then I had him try writing each word on his own. Finally we sounded out each word together. The worksheet is included in the beginning reader link above!
-Chinese New Year writing prompt: Each day I had my little choose something he knew about Chinese New Year and draw a picture/write a sentence about it. By the end of the week we had a book!
-Chinese New Year book list:
-CNY counting and number match: I printed some CNY counting and number match cards from Teachers Pay Teachers, laminated them and cut them out. I had my 3 year old count and match 1-5 and my 5 year old work on 6-12.
-Chinese New Year spy and count: I printed this CNY spy and count activity from Teachers Pay Teachers then had my littles find and color each item a different color. Then they counted each item.
-CNY graph: Using the activity above, I had my littles color bar graphs about the items they spied (the bar graphs can be printed from the previous activity too!) Then I asked them questions about their graphs (I used the questions on the graph for my 5 year old and I asked my 3 year old which one he spied the most of and which one he spied the least of.)
-Year of the Tiger roll and cover: I printed out a Year of the Tiger coloring page then wrote the numbers 1-10 on my 3 year old’s copy and 1-20 on my 5 year old’s. Then I had them roll 10 and 20 sided dice, identify the number they rolled, then find and dot it on the page.
-Lantern roll, add and cover: I printed a CNY roll, add and cover game from Teachers Pay Teachers, then had my little roll 2 dice, add them and cover the number he got. He worked on using the “count on” strategy (identify the larger number, say it- then count on the amount of the smaller number…so 4 + 6 would be 6…7, 8, 9, 10).
-Find and color China on a world map: I had my littles find Asia, then find China (I told them it looked a bit like a moose head) on a world map and color it. Then we found where we live and they traced routes how we could get to China by plane and by boat.
-Color the Chinese flag: I gave my littles each a print out of the Chinese flag and had them color the stars yellow and the rest red.
-Eat dumplings with chopsticks: Food is an important part of any culture- and one that’s the most fun to explore! I made my littles one of the traditional CNY foods- dumplings (aka pot stickers at the grocery store) and told them this is what some families eat on CNY, similar to how we always have turkey at Thanksgiving. Then I gave them chopsticks and told them that they were the utensil people eat with in China and other parts of Asia. I showed them how to use the chopsticks then let them have a go! (My 3 year old called them “chopforks” and just used them like a fork…but my 5 year old had some success! hahaha)
-Coins in an envelope: Another tradition on CNY is to give children or unmarried/unemployed adults money in red envelopes because red is considered a lucky color in China and the money represents prosperity in the New Year. I ordered some “lucky Chinese coins” for my littles (they came in bags instead of paper envelopes, but I just explained to them the tradition and how my gift differed). They were super impressed with them, especially my 5 year old!
-Dragon and lion dance videos: Dragon and Lion dances are part of CNY celebrations worldwide and I think they are AMAZING! My littles did too- they were totally transfixed when we were learning about them in the books we read, and just as fascinated by the videos we watched of them. We learned there are even lion dance competitions in China- and they “dance” while balancing on poles with these little platforms on top! It’s crazy cool!
-Round paper lantern craft: We made round paper lanterns by taping strips of red paper in circles around each other (the picture explains it best!) I held the paper while my littles did the taping. Then I hot glued yellow paper circles on the top and bottom, hole punched each side of the top one and strung a string through it so we could hang them up!
-Paper plate tiger mask: Since it’s the year of the tiger this year, I had my littles paint some paper plates orange with black stripes. Then I cut out eye holes for them and put them on sticks so they could use them as masks! I got the mask idea from Happy Toddler Playtime.
-Write your name in Chinese characters: You can google how to write and say your name in Chinese- it’s so cool! We did everyone in our family, then I wrote my 5 year old’s name in pen for him and had him trace over it using black paint.
-Fire breathing dragon craft: I had my littles paint toilet paper tubes green. After they were dry we added pom poms with googly eyes on them for eyes and tissue paper for fire (taped to the inside of one end of the tube). Then my littles made them “breathe fire” by blowing on the open end of the tube! I got the idea from One Little Project.
-Rattle drum craft: Have your littles color the outsides of two paper plates red (or paint them red). Then tape a pencil inside one of the plates so it sticks out about 3-4 inches. Tape the plates together (or you can staple them) and punch holes on either side. Tie a string with a button on the end of it to each hole to make a traditional Chinese rattle drum. I got this idea from Happy Toddler Playtime.
-Letter of the week: Rr, each day we do a different activity focused on our letter- introduction/have your little practice it on the chalkboard (or white board), think of words that start with the letter and make a list, workbook letter writing practice, workbook word writing practice.
-Word of the week: all, each day we do a different activity focused on our word- introduction/sound the word out/have your little practice writing it on the chalkboard or whiteboard, word family list- think of other words that rhyme with your word of the week, use the word in a sentence (have your little come up with the sentence and write it for them) then have your little illustrate the sentence, and workpage practice.
-Bible verse: This month’s Bible verse is “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15 I write each word in the verse on a post-it, stick them to the wall then have my little point to each word and read it each day all month.
-Character trait of the month: empathy…this word is reviewed and posted at the start of the month then each time one of my littles freely demonstrates generosity I use the word to specifically praise what they’re doing and encourage the trait in them. (ie. “You could tell your brother was upset and you comforted him like your own feelings got hurt- thank you for showing empathy.”)
- The books “Runaway Wok” and “Runaway Rice Cake”
- scrabble tiles
- Chinese dumplings
- coins and red envelopes
- toilet paper tube
- nonfiction Chinese New Year book
- red/orange tissue paper
- 3 paper plates
- stick or pencil
- 2 bells/beads/buttons