Celebrating Chinese New Year With Your Kids (even if they aren't Asian!)

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Gung Hay Fat Choy!  Happy New Year!  It's time for a lion dance!  It's the Year of the Dog and I'm getting ready for my annual Chinese New Year's Lesson in Harry's and Sara's pre-K and 1st Grade classrooms.

My kids are Asian, but the whole class loves it and so do the teachers. You can also do a lot of these activities at home -- comes in handy for snow days in January/February ... Here's the lesson plan, approximately 1 hour:

1.  Introduction to Chinese New Year 

I've created a book with lots of photos and will do circle style on the rug - the interactive lecture.   In Harry's class, there is a large computer and I can put the images in powerpoint:

Inquiry questions:

  • How do we celebrate New Year's in America?
  • How it different in Asia?  In Cambodia?
  • Gung Hay Fat Choy - What does it mean?
  • The Animal Zodiac - Year of the Dog
  • What's your year?
  • How families celebrate?
  • Show red envelopes, good luck scrolls, and budhist prayer money
  • The Celebration - Lion Dance Dance

Stand up and sing song:  Gung Hay Fat Choy

2.    Activity Centers (divide into small groups, set up activity at each table and have them rotate)

Make a lion mask (color and deocrate cardboard cutouts or print these on cardstock)
Make a New Year's Card (bring red cards for them to use rubber stamps and print/cut out these to color and collage)
Practice Writing Good Luck in Chinese (Harry's class)
Make  Good Luck Scrolls (Sara's Class) (Print on red paper, bring gold markers and gold string to hang)
Put the chinese new year digital jigsaw puzzles on CD to load onto classroom computer

(Other options: I've collected some great links to many other resources and activities and will need this in the future. Depending on the number of kids/teachers and parents, may need to do fewer centers.)

3.   Lion Dance with Masks

Show Lion Dance Video Clip on computer - 1-2 minutes (others can be found here)
Adapt movements for 4-6 year olds

History of Lion Dance (in case the kids ask questions ...)

4.   Read Story about Lion Dance

Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan's Chinese New Year's

5.    Snack and Goodie Bags

Fortune Cookies, oranges, and the really cool goody bags I have to put together ....


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