Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Vocabulary Target Words: bamboo, China, chopsticks, dragon, fireworks, fortune, holiday, lantern, legend, luck, New Year, spring festival, tradition
Legend of the Chinese New Year:
Legend states that long ago there was once a monster named Nian that attacked Chinese villages every spring, devouring everything in sight. Then one spring, villagers hung red paper on their doors and threw bamboo into fire as it arrived. The monster was so startled by the bright colors and loud crackling noise that it fled. Since that day, Chinese people traditionally hang red paper signs and lanterns outside their homes and light firecrackers to commemorate the original villagers who made the monster turn away.
Did You Know?: nian is the Chinese word for year.
Traditions ~ The Spring Festival is a time for family gatherings and celebrations of great importance to the Chinese people. The Festival generally takes places over a 15-day period, beginning with their New Year’s Eve. In China, the public holiday lasts for three days. In preparation for New Year Day, families give a thorough cleaning to their home and purchase enough food and new clothing for the children to last through the festivals days. Families get together to enjoy traditional dishes such as dumplings, fish, spring rolls, hot-pot and new year cake. Children also receive red envelopes with money known as Lucky Money which children use to buy books or school supplies. Some families use the Lucky Money to teach their children about managing and saving money.
Learn Your Chinese Name ~ Using this name index (male and female versions), click on the alphabet letter based on the first letter of your name. A list of all names beginning with that letter will come up. Find your name and click on it to see the Chinese version. Here is an index for Family Last Names.
Take Out ~ Visit a Chinese restaurant or order take out and have the child explore some traditional dishes while eating with chopsticks. If possible, ask the restaurant staff which region of China their food is based on to find out which of the eight styles their food represents. The three most popular are: Cantonese, Hunan and Szechuan. You can also try a Mongolian style restaurant, which reflects both Chinese and Russian traditions.
Chinese Calendar ~ The Chinese calendar is different from the calendar used in the United States. It is a lunar calendar based on a cycle of 12 years, each represented by an animal along with five elements: metal, water, wood, fire and earth. Their belief is that people who are born in a particular year share traits similar to those of the animal representing their birth year. According to the Chinese lunar calendar, 2013 marks the year of the Snake and year 4711 in the Chinese calendar.
Make Your Own Fortune ~ Fortune cookies are a staple in Chinese restaurants. People generally receive one at the end of their meal. Discuss how fortune cookie messages are generally thought to be messages of good luck but can also be words of wisdom. Give the child strips of paper or use this Kai-Lan themed printable and a pencil and have them create their own. You can even make a batch of Fortune cookies (easy recipe) and slip their sayings into them for a fun, kid-friendly lesson.
Chinese Inventions ~ This lesson can be done in conjunction with my lesson on inventions and inventors. Discuss some things invented by the Chinese people, such as: silk, paper, the compass, ink and calligraphy, the kite, row planting (planting crops in rows), martial arts, porcelain, fireworks and the planetarium.