Teach social studies by exploring world cultural celebrations. Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, begins late January or early February on the western calendar. CNY 2014 starts January 31. It’s Year of the Horse. Here are easy, inexpensive ideas to throw a CNY festival in class or at home. I’ve included horse-themed activities.
*”Travel” to China. Use China Page’s huge online warehouse of information to prepare yourself. There are Chinese legends, stories, sayings, poetry, art, history, culture, plus a page on Chinese New Year .
* Read books on China. Here’s an article I wrote on best Chinese culture books for middle school kids. Here’s a list for pre-K to grades two .
*Decorate. Prek-8.com has free printable Chinese symbols, clipart, graphics to use for decorations. Children can use to make banners, desk decor. Create greeting cards and give to elderly.
* Make crafts. DL-TK has printable CNY activities for children to make. There are Chinese zodiac calendars, lantern crafts (for Lantern Festival), hats, paper dolls, booklets, and a Chinese zodiac wreath. Activity Village has a whole page of CNY recipes, coloring pages, crafts, games with lots of printables.
* Learn about animals of the zodiac. The DL-TK link has an entire page of activities devoted to each animal: horse, dog, rat, rooster, dragon, pig, sheep, rabbit, monkey, ox, tiger and snake. There coloring pages, booklets and more.
* Host a pageant. Help children create animal costumes from the dress up bin and recycled materials. Got more than 12 students? Do male, female and baby animals (ram-ewe-lamb). This teaches science vocabulary. Here are printable animals of the zodiac masks from Activity Village. Children might write animal poems or skits. They might create habitats for their animals. For Chinese dragons, here’s a link.to learn more from Draconian.
* Sample Chinese foods. Chinese New Year theme is luck. Here are lucky foods to eat from China Highlights. Spoonful has Chinese New Year recipes, crafts and activities. Simple kid-friendly treats would be animals crackers (horses), iced tea, fortune cookies, dumplings, spring rolls (egg rolls), cherries, Mandarin oranges and fish crackers. Here’s an article I wrote on Chinese New Year foods by region.
* Play games. Links above have printable puzzles and games. DL-TK link has a printable quilt with a square for each animal. T hat could be used as a bingo or memory game. In China, children are given lucky gold coins. Get some foil-wrapped gold coins and hide them for kids to find.
* Host a Lantern Festival. Here’s a page of ideas, activities and printables to experience this. Lantern Festival rounds out the new year activities and is celebrated about two weeks later.
Say “Gong Xi Fa Cai” (Gong Hey Fat Choy”) to wish Happy New Year!