Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chinese New Year

Xin Nian Hao!

It's not too late to celebrate Chinese New Year!

It officially started last Thursday, but my daughter's Chinese friends say that they are celebrating it for 15 days.

Last week we had a small Chinese New Year Party with two other families. Here's the group, the girls dressed in their "qi pao," Chinese party dresses. Their American Girl dolls were dressed for the occasion as well! I posted a slide show on my other blog, but I thought I'd post over here about the resources and games we used.

My daughter used this site at mandarintools.com to create each party guest their own Chinese name. We put them on name tags, and it was interesting to see how each person's name truly reflected their character!

After the guests arrived and put on their name tags, we sat and read a story. We read the book Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin. It is a beautifully illustrated and easy to understand story of a Chinese family. The explanations of the customs are clear and understandable for a wide range of ages, as we had preschoolers up to a 14 year old at our house, and all enjoyed the book. One of my friends even pointed out how we can "adapt" some of their customs and put them in a Christian context (instead of sweeping out last year's "bad luck" we can sweep out bad habits and sins that have accumulated over the past year, etc. A very interesting discussion!)



We then made some "Year of the Rat" picture frames and Chinese lanterns that I ordered from Oriental Trading Company. We used sticky dots from the craft store as well as glue sticks and they worked great... and we didn't have to worry about glue drying.

We made up a "Ladybug Game" (sort of like a "cake walk"...we got the ladybug idea from the Chapman's book, Shaoey and Dot, a favorite among the families who were at the party who have precious daughters adopted from China). We laminated some ladybugs and taped them in a circle on the floor. Each ladybug had a differen number of dots on its back. We played some Chinese music while everyone walked in a circle.
When the music stopped each child stopped on a ladybug and counted the number of dots on its back and we drew a number out of a bag. The child on the corresponding number won a prize. The prizes were items we bought in China while we were there, but also a Chinese New Testament and some coins with John 3:16 in Chinese. As each child won a prize we removed that number and ladybug, so each child got a chance to win. (This photo was taken after most of the kids had won and were sitting on the stairs with their prizes...)



We also played a story game, the "Left/Right Game." The children sat in a circle while my daughter read a story she had written. There was a gift to pass around while the story was read. When she said the word "right" (or "Wright" or "write") the gift was passed to the right. When she said "left" it was passed left. It was a cute story she wrote about the "Wright family" and how they celebrated Chinese New Year. (Story below.)
When the story stopped, whoever was left holding the gift got to keep it. In this case, it was a wonderful set of small figures from China representing the 56 people groups. The winner was so excited, because his sister is from one of the people groups!

We had some yummy Chinese take-out from our favorite Chinese buffet in our town. We have made friends with the owner and his wife... His wife is from the province in China that we visit. She helps my daughter with her pronunciation and is very helpful to translate any shirts we buy at Target (or wherever) that have Chinese writing on them... I want to know what they say! We ate lunch at the restaurant and then ordered take out for the party for later. We gave her one of our coins with John 3:16 on it, and she read it with interest. We hope to get to know her better in the future. My daughter has been learning Scripture in Chinese and we want to get her to help her with her pronunciation. What a great opportunity to let God's Word speak for itself, and perhaps open the door for the gospel.

After crafts, games and food, the kids played for awhile upstairs and then we had fun cranking the Chinese "hip hop" music (that we found on iTunes) and then popping party poppers. It was a great time!

If you'd like to learn more about China or Chinese New Year with your kids, here are some additional resources:

Kids On Mission: China

Kids of Courage

Activity Village

Enchanted Learning

Apples 4 the Teacher


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Left-Right Game


The Wright family was preparing for the Chinese New Year. For the Wrights, if you did not celebrate Chinese New Year, than that was just not right. The Wright family lives in Fuzhou, China, but they soon left to travel right up the coast to Shanghai, China, where the rest of the Wright family members were left waiting for them to begin the celebration. The Wright family finally arrived at their family's house which was on the left of the street, right across from the market place. Their family was preparing for the New Year by sweeping out the bad luck left over from the last year. Uncle Wright decided to write a good luck poem to hang on the left of the door outside. Grandma Wright gave the little Wright girls a fresh hair cut, and Auntie Wright left to fetch their new gowns. Next, the entire extended Wright family began the celebration right away with a huge feast. The Wright's feast had just the right amount of food to feed each Wright, but left plenty of leftovers for tomorrow. After everybody was finished eating, the Wright family members left the kitchen to stand right outside and pop firecrackers. When there were not any poppers left, there soon came the best part of all, the dragon dance. Each Wright family member left any bad thoughts behind and gathered around as Auntie Wright colored in the left and right eyes of the dragon. The dragon's eyes were now opened so that he could see. The music began blaring from the instruments being played right to the left of them, and the dragon began its dance. Left and right, left, left, left and right and left it swayed. It followed the sun right then left, then right and right again. Left it turned, swaying further and further left, right. Right as the music started to calm down, the dragon reared to the right and came to a halt. The Wright family roared in laughter and applause and each Wright hugged all of the other Wrights. Right at the end of the clapping, each Wright left their places and gathered closer, singing and shouting, Xin Nian Hao! Yes, the Wright family was right, the old year was left far behind and the New Year was finally here.

3 comments:

FordeFam said...

How neat! Glad to have read that we can still celebrate Chinese New Year!!! :) We posted pics in our little outfits from Chinatown today!!! :) Maybe we'll do a few of the activities on your post! :) Found your blog when I was searching for advent stuff for my kiddos this past Christmas! Your tips helped a ton!!! :) We're going to start homeschooling Pre-K this fall!!! A little nervous, but I'm excited! :) Thanks for all of your tips!
Maia ><>

School for Us said...

That looks like so much fun! And, I'm sure the kids will remember it. Thanks for sharing all of the ideas.

Sheila said...

I've been looking for resources for teaching Chinese New Year in a Christian manner. Thanks!

I'd like to know about the story you read about the Wrights? Wights? Thanks.

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