Oh, the last few weeks have been full. Full to the brim.
I'm going to go back and cover birthdays later, but I'm going to start with Chinese New Year. Last year, we were newly home from China, I was still recovering, and we celebrated very simply. I decided this year, I'd go a bit more all out.
I still didn't get the Chinese New Year tree up. However, since I didn't have all my ornaments yet anyway, I didn't care. I know, a CNY tree isn't traditional anyway, but it's my thing (with big red bulb lights and zodiac ornaments), and it looks awfully cool when I get it up. I did get some plum blossoms though!
This year, I focused on sharing with others about CNY and making my kids feel special in the process. So, I asked each of their teachers if they would be willing to allow me to come in to do a short lesson on CNY for their respective classes. Each of them said, "YES!"
It was a BLAST!
In Chloe's class, I read "My First Chinese New Year" by Karen Katz, and "Bringing in the New Year" by Grace Lin. Then, because it is the Year of the Dragon, we made dancing dragons. I wasn't sure about this project, but they came out AWESOME, and the kids LOVED dancing around to dragon dance music with them to scare the Ni'an away! I also gave them all mandarin oranges as a "good luck" with for the new year.
In Cooper's class, I read the same books I read to Chloe's class. However, the teachers didn't give me enough time to do a craft. So, I bought the kids crowns. They have no basis in tradition, but when we went to the party store, that's what Cooper wanted. SO......that's what Cooper got! They looked so cute, and I suppose they do have dragons on them!
With Sawyer's class, I wanted to do something extra special. I also wanted to put together a kit for myself I could use easily in the future. That way, each year, I can grab the kit and go into their classes with a fun, interactive lesson that is all prepared for me already. Plus, Sawyer's teacher gave me an HOUR! That's a lot of time!
So, I spent a LOT of time reading about the main traditions of Chinese New Year, and boiling it down to twenty "artifacts" of Chinese New Year- things that the kids could hold in their hands that would highlight a particular part of the CNY celebration.
My favorite of all the artifacts were the two dumplings I sewed out of felt, and stuffed with cotton balls! Who wants to guess what the Dog Bones represent?
Anyway, once I had all my 20 artifacts collected, I put them all in brown paper bags (some grocery bags, but mostly lunch bags) and numbered them form 1-20. When I got to Sawyer's class, I gave out one bag to each student. I told them they could not open their bag until I called their number.
I proceeded to go down through the bags number by number. When the kids would pull out their artifacts, I would explain what that had to do with Chinese New Year. The kids sat with rapt attention, because they could NOT wait to see what would come out of their bag. Plus, I told them there were two lucky bags- the kids that had those bags would get to keep (and possibly even share) the contents of the bag. The girl who got the red envelope with a dollar in it was the envy of the class, and the boy who got the bag full of mandarin oranges to share was pretty psyched as well!
Then, we did a Think-Pair-Share Venn diagram activity that allowed the kids to compare and contrast how we celebrate the calendar new year here in the US with how Lunar New Year is celebrated in China.
Think-Pair-Share means that they had a minute to brainstorm their ideas for the Venn Diagram. Then, they paired up with one or two other classmates to share ideas and fill out the Venn Diagram better than they could with just their ideas alone. Then, each group contributed their ideas to a large Venn Diagram for the class.
All-in-all, it was a great celebration of the Year of Dragon here. And, I *think* we are even going to have a little Lantern Festival of our own this year as well! I'll keep you posted on that!
Meanwhile, I'm putting my feet up for a day or two before Cooper's birthday party is upon me!