Sunday, December 23, 2007

Notes for Parents

You may care more about sharing Chinese heritage and Chinese New Year information than anyone else involved with your child's class -- but you might not know the most, and either way there may be other parents who are interested in joining with you. It is might be better in the long run if you talk to some other parents before going ahead and deciding "everything". I have found that the parent who knows the most, or who has the best ideas may not have the time, temperament, or confidence in their language skills to present to a class.

Work together. Build a community.

I like to read a bit more about any topic - so I am more likely to have an answer to questions that might come up. That's why I try to include extra references to books and other websites throughout so that you can do the same.

Abacus example: While I doubt I will ever help children make an abacus out of O-shaped cereal, if I did I would want to practice using an abacus, read about abacus math, and learn the difference between a Chinese and Japanese abacus before I went into the classroom. If you go that route, you may want to skim something like these abacus pages:

Abacus Museum
PBS's mathline on abacus

(I could see having them make one out of beads instead of cereal.)

Last updated: January 2009

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

e-cards for CNY

For the 2008 Year of the Rat, at least the following places have e-cards:
With most, if not all of these, you can set them up now to be mailed on the 18th... or 17th... so you do not need to remember. I have no association with any of these places, do not profit from this in any way, and am not responsible for their content - but I would not mind getting a card if you write a note with it!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

2008 Lunar Calendar Available

We've created a pdf file showing how the phases of the moon compare to the 2008 calendar. If you would like a copy, please post a comment with your email, or email me.

I love the look but really it is to help us see how each month of the Chinese calendar begins with a new moon. If there is a full moon, one knows it is the 15th of the lunar calendar. Children - and adults - always want to look at it when I take it anywhere. This year we've added the day of the week inside each moon. Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dance Asia's ready for the Year of the Boar

I am thinking about the Year of the Rat myself, and over half done with the Pig, but maybe they will update their shows the year gets closer?

I just learned about this show which is touring the USA - Dance Asia is a professional Chinese Peking Opera dance production featuring Qi Shu Fang. Suggested for grades 1- 6. About an hour long. Get the Study buddy ,Ring in the Year of the Boar with international star Qi Shu Fang ("Chee-Shoo-Fong") and her remarkable troupe of Asian dancers. Featuring brilliantly flowing ribbons, a dancing lion, and amazing acrobatics and martial arts, Miss Qi and the dancers perform dazzling feats of athleticism and agility that continue to thrill audiences of all ages! Check out where in the USA this may be near you, and then you can make reservations via .

Friday, September 14, 2007

The cycle starts with Rat

Some of us may need to start now to memorize how to fold a nice rat before the New Year. Of course there are many other ways to fold a mouse and Origami ideas for the whole zodiac.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Is Autumn here?

The 2nd most celebrated Chinese festival is Mid-Autumn Festival, and it's one moon away now. This year lunar 8/15 falls on September 25th.

You may want to start looking for mooncakes at the Chinese grocery store, review Mid-Autumn Festival information, decide whether you want to go into your child's school to celebrate, or even start talking to their teachers. Or, surprise some friends online with e-cards. You can set up today to be delivered on September 25th!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Solstice!

The longest day of the year. The extreme of the sun's height, 夏至
xiàzhì is the 10th solar term of the year. "Minor heat" and "Major heat" are ahead of us.

Still not halfway to the next Chinese New Year.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Festival phrases

Life in China has a section on phrases for "Festival and holidays"[sic]. Of course the most are for Chinese New Year, Spring Festival.

Celina put an interesting culture note in her entries that says, "In the old days, New Year's money was given in the form of one hundred copper coins strung together on a red string and symbolized the hope that one would live to be a hundred years old. Today, money is placed inside red envelopes in denominations considered auspicious and given to represent luck and wealth".

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Occasional Pig

From Graphics

I just could not resist these pigs from www.ChristmasMySpace.Com
They have quite a few other graphics, sadly including a few that are sexist.

Chinese New Year Dates - from 1900

This list is mostly to help those who ask, "What is my Chinese Zodiac Sign?" especially in they are born between January 19 - February 21. The elements are also given.

These dates are listed from most recent to 1900, so the zodiac cycle is "upside down". Rat is first: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep. Monkey, Chicken, Dog, and Pig.

For future dates, see Future Chinese New Year Dates.

2008 Thursday, February 7th - (Earth) Brown Rat 4706

2007 February 18 - (Fire) Red Pig 4705
2006 January 29 - (Fire) Red Dog 4704
2005 February 9 – (Wood) Green Chicken 4703
2004 January 22 – (Wood) Green Monkey 4702
2003 February 1 – (Water) Black Sheep 4701
2002 February 12 - (Water) Black Horse 4670
2001 January 24 – (Metal) White Snake 4669
2000 February 5 – (Metal) White (Golden) Dragon 4668
1999 February 16 - 2000 February 4 - Earth Rabbit
1998 January 28 - 1999 February 15 - Earth Tiger
1997 February 7 - 1998 January 27 - Fire Ox
1996 February 19 - 1997 February 6 - Fire Rat

1995 January 31 - 1996 February 18 - Wood Pig
1994 February 10 - 1995 January 30 - Wood Dog
1993 January 23 - 1994 February 9 - Water Rooster
1992 February 4 - 1993 January 22 - Water Monkey
1991 February 15 - 1992 February 3 - Metal Goat
1990 January 27 - 1991 February 14 - Metal Horse
1989 February 6 - 1990 January 26 - Earth Snake
1988 February 17 - 1989 February 5 - Earth Dragon
1987 January 29 - 1988 February 16 - Fire Rabbit
1986 February 9 - 1987 January 28 - Fire Tiger
1985 February 20 - 1986 February 8 - Wood Ox
1984 February 2 - 1985 February 19 - Wood Rat

1983 February 13 - 1984 February 1 - Water Pig
1982 January 25 - 1983 February 12 - Water Dog
1981 February 5 - 1982 January 24 - Metal Rooster
1980 February 16 - 1981 February 4 - Metal Monkey
1979 January 28 - 1980 February 15 - Earth Goat
1978 February 7 - 1979 January 27 - Earth Horse
1977 February 18 - 1978 February 6 - Fire Snake
1976 January 31 - 1977 February 17 – Fire Dragon
1975 February 11 - 1976 January 30 - Wood Rabbit
1974 January 23 - 1975 February 10 - Wood Tiger
1973 February 3 - 1974 January 22 - Water Ox
1972 February 15 - 1973 February 2 - Water Rat

1971 January 27 - 1972 February 14 - Metal Pig
1970 February 6 - 1971 January 26 - Metal Dog
1969 February 17 - 1970 February 5 - Earth Rooster
1968 January 30 - 1969 February 16 - Earth Monkey
1967 February 9 - 1968 January 29 - Fire Goat
1966 January 21 - 1967 February 8 - Fire Horse
1965 February 2 - 1966 January 20 - Wood Snake
1964 February 13 - 1965 February 1 - Wood Dragon
1963 January 25 - 1964 February 12 - Water Rabbit
1962 February 5 - 1963 January 24 - Water Tiger
1961 February 15 - 1962 February 4 - Metal Ox
1960 January 28 - 1961 February 14 - Metal Rat

1959 February 8 - 1960 January 27 - Earth Pig
1958 February 18 - 1959 February 7 - Earth Dog
1957 January 31 - 1958 February 17 - Fire Rooster
1956 February 12 - 1957 January 30 - Fire Monkey
1955 January 24 - 1956 February 11 - Wood Goat
1954 February 3 - 1955 January 23 - Wood Horse
1953 February 14 - 1954 February 2 – Water Snake
1952 January 27 - 1953 February 13 - Water Dragon
1951 February 6 - 1952 January 26 - Metal Rabbit
1950 February 17 - 1951 February 5 - Metal Tiger
1949 January 29 - 1950 February 16 - Earth Ox
1948 February 10 - 1949 January 28 - Earth Rat

1947 January 22 - 1948 February 9 - Fire Pig
1946 February 2 - 1947 January 21 - Fire Dog
1945 February 13 - 1946 February 1 - Wood Rooster
1944 January 25 - 1945 February 12 - Wood Monkey
1943 February 5 - 1944 January 24 - Water Goat
1942 February 15 - 1943 February 4 - Water Horse
1941 January 27 - 1942 February 14 - Metal Snake
1940 February 8 - 1941 January 26 - Metal Dragon
1939 February 19 - 1940 February 7 - Earth Rabbit
1938 January 31 - 1939 February 18 - Earth Tiger
1937 February 11 - 1938 January 30 - Fire Ox

1936 January 24 - 1937 February 10 - Fire Rat
1935 February 4 - 1936 January 23 - Wood Pig
1934 February 14 - 1935 February 3 - Wood Dog
1933 January 26 - 1934 February 13 - Water Rooster
1932 February 6 - 1933 January 25 - Water Monkey
1931 February 17 - 1932 February 5 - Metal Goat
1930 January 30 - 1931 February 16 - Metal Horse
1929 February 10 - 1930 January 29 - Earth Snake
1928 January 23 - 1929 February 9 - Earth Dragon
1927 February 2 - 1928 January 22 – Fire Rabbit
1926 February 13 - 1927 February 1 - Fire Tiger
1925 January 25 - 1926 February 12 - Wood Ox
1924 February 5 - 1925 January 24 - Wood Rat

1923 February 16 - 1924 February 4 - Water Pig
1922 January 28 - 1923 February 15 - Water Dog
1921 February 8 - 1922 January 27 - Metal Rooster
1920 February 20 - 1921 February 7 – Metal Monkey
1919 February 1 - 1920 February 19 - Earth Goat
1918 February 11 - 1919 January 31 - Earth Horse
1917 January 23 - 1918 February 10 - Fire Snake
1916 February 3 - 1917 January 22 - Fire Dragon
1915 February 14 - 1916 February 2 - Wood Rabbit
1914 January 26 - 1915 February 13 – Wood Tiger
1913 February 6 - 1914 January 25 - Water Ox
1912 February 18 - 1913 February 5 – Water Rat

1911 January 30 - 1912 February 17 - Metal Pig
1910 February 10 - 1911 January 29 - Metal Dog
1909 January 22 - 19010 February 9 - Earth Rooster
1908 February 2 - 1909 January 21 - Earth Monkey
1907 February 13 - 1908 February 1 – Fire Goat
1906 January 25 - 1907 February 12 - Fire Horse
1905 February 4 - 1906 January 24 – Wood Snake
1904 February 16 - 1905 February 3 – Wood Dragon
1903 January 29 - 1904 February 15 - Water Rabbit
1902 February 8 - 1903 January 28 – Water Tiger
1901 February 19 - 1902 February 7 – Metal Ox
1900 January 31 - 1901 February 18 – Metal Rat

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Future Chinese New Year dates

For previous dates, see Chinese New Year Dates from 1900.

2008 Thursday, February 7th - Jan. 28, 2009 - (Earth) Brown Rat 4706
2009 Monday, January 26th - (Earth) Brown Ox 4707
2010 February 14th - (Metal) White Tiger 4708
2011 February 3rd - (Metal) White Hare 4709
2012 January 23th - (Water) Dragon 4710
2013 February 10th - (Water) Snake 4711
2014 January 31st - (Wood) Horse 4712
2015 February 19th - (Wood) Sheep 4713
2016 February 8th - (Fire) Monkey 4714
2017 January 28th - (Fire) Chicken 4715
2018 February 16th - (Earth) Dog 4716
2019 February 5th - (Earth) Pig 4717

last updated: April 2007

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Chinese New Year - 2007

The Year of the Red Fire Pig was greeted with parades and fireworks around the world - and in some places few pigs. In Malaysia and China where there are large Muslim populations, the governments decided that the pig should not be featured much. In China, pigs were not allowed in Chinese New Year TV ads!

closer to home: Even my 6 year old knows that there is no "year of the panda", and I got a thank you note from a Jewish friend for featuring a pig in the Chinese New Year card I made for them.

This years' pictures include:
More to come. . .

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Chinese New Year Foods

According a 2000 Hong Kong government report, Chinese New Year "signifies hope and joy". "A number of special foods are taken during this period as part of the celebration and they exemplify strong local features. " Most Hong Kong residents are from Southern China. Their Chinese New Year food reflects the Guangdong (Cantonese) cultures. The Hong Kong government classifies Hong Kong Chinese New Year Foods into five main categories:
  • steamed puddings (Sweet puddings of flour, sugar, and perhaps vegetables or coconut milk and salty/savoury puddings of flour, preserved meat, turnip or taro),
  • fried dumplings,
  • sweetened fruits and vegetables,
  • glutinous rice balls and
  • seeds.
The focus of their Safe Food Report was actually the food preservatives and colorings found in Chinese New Year foods in 1996 - 1999.

Whole fish, practically a requirement for new Year's eve dinner, was not listed at all. If you are Cantonese - or a boater - do not turn the fish over. You do not want to capsize your boat! After eating one side of the fish, remove the bone and eat the other side - but not all of it. Save some for "new year" - the next day. You want to ensure prosperity - but always having [more/extra fish]. "Fish" and "Extra" sound the same in Chinese.

In Northern China dumplings(jiaozi) are common, perhaps especially for New Year's eve. Long life noodles are eaten for Chinese New Year in some parts of China. I have taken noodles in - with grated carrots, grated cucumber, and sauce on the side to preschools and mixed-age school groups. Last time, we looked at this Long Life Noodle recipe before heading out to shop for ingredients. I always tell them what is in it and never substituted peanut butter for sesame paste (tahini) due to potential allergy issues.

Nian gao (sticky rice cakes) are more common in the south - where more rice is grown.

Someone on the faculty at the University of Victoria posted a more traditional look at Chinese New Year foods and their symbolism. Asian Art Museum has a two-page Fruits and Flowers for Chinese New Year brochure online that discusses a lot of symbolism. For more on foods special to Chinese New Year, read Wikipedia's Chinese New Year Food entry.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Courage, Compassion and Cooperation

This is new to me – a service for Chinese New Year. Unitarian Universalist Association has a clearing house packet (now called Faith Works). Part of its goal is to inspire faith development, and connect ethical and spiritual practices. In Spring 2000, they had a piece on Courage, Compassion and Cooperation which highlighted the Chinese New Year.

I like it. If you do, you may also find a way to use the lesson plans at Learning to Give, not just the one Chinese New Year using the book Sam and the Lucky Money. Their goals are to to educate youth about the power of philanthropy (sharing time, talent and treasure) and empower young people to make a difference in their school, their community and their world!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

CNY Songs on YouTube

Some cute Happy New Year songs in Mandarin:

Chinese New Year Song 01 (with Chinese subtitles)

Chinese New Year Song (02)

Chinese New Year Song (04)

Chinese New Year Song (05)

Please check that you have your parent's permission to watch these on YouTube before you click.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Celebrating the Chinese New Year e-book

The China School in New York City has a cute e-book, titled Celebrating the Chinese New Year available for free - and the promise of more coming. It is also available through the China Initiative.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Happy New Year's Eve!

Chinese New Year is probably celebrated by a quarter of the world now and is the biggest celebration of the Chinese community.

In addition to the 12-year zodiac animal cycle, there is a cycle of five elements making a 60 year cycle. This year was a Red Dog year and tomorrow will be a Red Pig or a Fire Pig year. This year is Dīnghài 丁亥, the 24th year of the Sexagenary Cycle (1887, 1947, 2007, etc.) I think we started hearing more about the bigger cycle in 2000, a "Golden Dragon Year". (Yes, I heard the odd rumor of it being a “Golden Pig” but it is just a rumor, perhaps started by some fortune tellers in Korea. No folklorists will support it.)

Monday, January 29, 2006 started a Red (Fire) Dog Year, 4704
Sunday, February 18, 2007 begins a Red (Fire) Pig Year, 4705

The next 12-year cycle starts on:
Thursday, February 7, 2008 with a Brown (Earth) Rat Year, 4706.

A Fire Pig year is good for expanding families and businesses. Feng shui experts say that this Year of the Pig will be a turbulent year and not peaceful, but it may be a good year for scholars.

In Japan I have been told that 2007 corresponds to Heisei 19, and while it is also a year of the Pig for them, many reports say they prefer the “Year of the Wild Boar”.

(I hear that that a golden pig year might not be so good for expanding businesses.) The Year of the Dog was supposed to be a good year to be married – but I have learned that in some parts of China, the divorce rate went up too, especially for newly married! Perhaps some who rushed into marriage for the year of the dog(?) decided it was a mistake. Regardless, they are no longer married and don’t have to decide whether it would be good for them to have a child this year.

China Daily reports that it may not be the best year to have a child in China. "Many couples are planning to have children during the next lunar year in anticipation of good luck, but the Year of the Pig baby boom may result in a rise in population that will affect children's future education, job prospects and even retired lives.” (Or see a China empire's prettier post of the same article.)

Bill Hadju, at Chinese says that "Health issues vary not only by sign but by individual. Your best bet is to visit a Chinese doctor to have your balances checked and get some advice for the coming year. It is a Fire year, so one thing we can say in general is to be on the lookout for signs of stress and a tendency to overextend one's self." Not bad advise for many of us - in any year!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Spring Festival Prep Pictures

A few photos from Xin Hua Net:

Gold Pigs Deliver Blessings: Three "golden pigs" deliver blessings in a parterre in Taizhou, Zhejiang province, Feb.7. The Chinese lunar New Year will fall on Feb.18, and this year is the Year of the Pig in China. (Cnsphoto)

Spring Festival, lunar New Year coming

Folk culture fair for Spring Festival
(another snap of the sugar painting-lollipops that I love to see)

New Spin on Old Tricks

Steve Whan's Focus on Culture consistently delivers interesting child-friendly articles. This week's selection includes: New Spin on Old Tricks about the members of the China National Acrobatic Troupe.

"The world's best acrobats had returned to their motherland and were preparing for the upcoming series of shows during the Spring Festival season in Tiandi Theater.

It is rare to see so many Chinese acrobatic stars together because for most of the year they are scattered across the world delighting audience with their breathtaking feats.

Now they're back in Beijing bringing the traditional Chinese acrobatic classic tricks they used to thrill foreign audiences. There are contortionists, plate spinners, wirewalkers, hoop divers, diabolo players, vase balancers, ball jugglers and bicycle riders. "The whole performance will be filled with a jolly holiday atmosphere," said Lei Mingxia, acting director of The Return of The Spirit." To read the rest. . .

I was especially interesting in what one performer said about how the Chinese Yoyo is used - in China versus abroad (where it is more likely to be called a diabolo).

You can see a Chinese Yoyo clip at CCTV 2007 Chinese New Year Celebration: Acrobatics.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

In the schools - 2007

Lots of lunar calendars going to school . . .

Laurie's taking it in for some first graders. Cathy's doing both her boys' classes! Pat took the calendar, a book & a craft in. Beth's using the calendar and coloring pages. Martha's talking to 5th graders. Linda's going in for her 5th year. Jean's a teacher and she'll have 6th and 7th graders make up their own calendar system.

This year, I'm celebrating Chinese New Year with a homeschoolers from kindergarten to 6th grade.
They'll have craft stations for: Paperfolding Pigs, Chun (spring) paper cut, making lanterns, Chinese double knot, and finger counting. (Some of the older students are running the stations!) We'll have a discussion of holidays in general (food, family gathering, ...) before learning about the lunar calendar and Chinese New Year. After a New Year's feast of noodles and jiaozi, some students will be putting on a play based on Eric Kimmel's The Rooster's Antlers. Then I'll teach some Mandarin songs and we'll close with a lantern parade.

Stephanie plans to talk about Chinese New Year and the lunar calendar to a group of 1st and 2nd year olds. Then the plan is to darken the room and try to show how the phases of the moon are created with some balls and a flashlight!

Charlie is going in again this year - Last year the kids loved it, especially the panda project and trying to eat popcorn with chopsticks. We talk about China a little in addition to the New Year's celebration. We'll show portions of 2 videos, sing the Ni Hao song, and read a children's book titled, My First Chinese New Year. We'll also teach them to count to 10 in Chinese.

I am sure that Beth is going in again but I don't know her specific plans.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Kitchen God reports - tomorrow

This year the Kitchen God returns to heaven on Monday, February 12th, 2007 (on the 24th day of the 12th month of the lunar year), to report to the Jade Emperor on the family's behavior during the past year. (If you still need a lunar calendar, you can send email to to get a pdf version for 2007.) Some say that his picture is burned on the 23rd and he reports on the 24th.

Traditionally Chinese families made offerings to send him off so that he will provide a good report. Some families worship the Kitchen God with offerings of homemade candies, rice cakes, dates, walnuts and fried beans. They may also burn fodder as a symbolic way to feed the Kitchen God's horse. Some families made additional offerings of sweets or of sweets or smeared honey on his lips so he would say sweet things to the Jade Emperor about the family. In some families, he was fed sticky things (like nian gao rice cakes) so that he can not say much of anything! (Think about how much you can say with a spoonful of peanut butter in your mouth.)

Herbal Shop's sticky cake recipe

Each year, each family needed to get a new (paper picture of the) kitchen god - the old one was burned and his messages went up with the smoke. The Kitchen God is guardian of the hearth, inventor of fire and censor of morals, and he is made of paper or other materials that burn easily. Most practicing families do not replace it until t New Year's Day, so for one week, there is no kitchen god, his place is empty.

This year someone said that if we were only going to buy (or make) 3 things for Chinese New Year, they should all be paper:I don't know - we really like eating (long noodles, jiaozi, citrus) and having hong bao to give to children.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Paperfold Pigs

"Origami" is a Japanese term, but paper folding is also a Chinese activity. Some say that it originated in China. Here's The World's Largest Origami Pig. If you want to fold - or teach others - try these directions:
  • The classic "Pig face" that even the youngest can fold is in "Origami in Motion".
  • A different pig's head
  • A little more complex is this standing Pig.
  • Jung's standing Pig (not quite the wild boar fold that I adore).
  • Different ** pig directions with no photo.
Some origami animals can free-standing. I also like gluing them to paper or cardstock to make greeting cards - certainly it is hard to figure out what else to do with some of the animal faces that even the youngest can make.

For more see my Musical Mandarin Paperfolding entry.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Chinese Music

You may also want to investigate the differences between Eastern and Western music as a study. Most library systems have some Eastern music that you can borrow, although it may take some looking to find what you want for your dragon parade.

Some short samples of Chinese music

Chinese Percussion Music (grades 5 - 10) - Teach students about Chinese percussion instruments and ensemble performances. This lesson was contributed by Han Kuo-Huang,
and a Cantonese lullaby.

Teaching East Asian Music in the Elementary Classroom
- List of various lesson plans, including:
Or, for something simple, see Chinese New Year Songs.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Year of the Pig Postage Stamps

China, Japan, Canada, Singapore, Indonesia, and New Zealand have issued stamps to commemorate the Year of the Pig. Singapore's completes their beautiful zodiac set. It is the first time that Indonesia has made special stamps for the Lunar New Year.

China has been issuing zodiac stamps since 1980 - this is the 3rd "Year of the Pig" stamp:
- Year of the Pig stamps, or see the whole sheet
- Perhaps the clearest picture

Someone made their own Year of the Pig stamps with photo shop. (Sadly not all of FreakingNews other Year of the Pig images are child-friendly.)

Making Lantern Riddles

I never thought I'd be able to link to one of my favorite blogs from my Chinese New Year blog - but it has happened! The Eides had a "Brain break" on riddle poems last week. They did not say much, but did link to an article I have used for reference "Riddle-Poems, and How to Make Them" as well as provide a new link which seems more fun - to another blogger called "Riddleman". Here is a link to his "Language Riddles" section.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Other "Year of the Pig" news

San Fransisco began celebrating the Year of the Pig on January 21st! They have some picture on their home page and lots from 2003 and 2004.

Spring Festival Temple Snacks - check out the sugar (animal-shaped) lollipops!

Green fluorescent pigs from China! (Stem cell research news from within the Year of the Dog, December 2006)

A nice shot from Steve in Japan, where the Year of the Boar is already upon them. I had not heard of the Japanese custom of buying arrows for the New Year before.

And New Year photos specific to the Year of the Boar:
- Spring Festival street food from the Year of the Rabbit, can you calculate which year it was?
- Penn Museum in Philadelphia has some nice Chinese New Year photos ready.
- China Culture's Photos of Spring Festival
- Astrolog, Year of the Fire Pig from an astrology site that is new to me.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Language Arts Lesson Plans

Poetry: Traditional Chinese Nursery Rhymes

Discussing Chinese Folk and Fairy Tales

Learning to Give has some lessons that look great. They can be adapted for older or younger students as necessary.

1. The Generosity of Spirit Folktale Unit for grades 9 – 12 contains 3 Chinese tales. You can use individual lessons or the whole unit. Lesson 4: Gifts of all Sizes includes a discussion of “The Silk Brocade”. Lesson 5: Chinese Folk Tales uses Lord of the Cranes and Lo-Sun, The Blind Boy. Lesson 7 on Buddhist Folktales may also be of interest, although the tales selected seem to be from only India and Tibet.

2. Good Will: Three Chinese Stories, for K – 2nd grade uses Margaret Mahy’s The Seven Chinese Brothers. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1990. ISBN: 0590420577 in Lesson 1: Helping Others, and Ying Chang Compestine’s Runaway Rice Cake (The). New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001. ISBN: 0689829728 in Lesson 2: Giving Generously. Lesson 3: Seems Like A Million Bucks uses a Chinese New Year book, Karen Chim’s Sam and the Lucky Money. New York: Lee and Low Books Inc., 1997. ISBN: 1880000539.

3. Lesson 4 of Philanthropic Literature (for K – 2nd grade) is onChinese Proverb on Honesty.

4. Lesson 6: Asian Fusion of the Around the World Unit (for grades 6-8) discusses philanthropy in China and Japan.

See more lesson plan ideas.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Chinese Zodiac Lesson Plans

These, from the the National Endowment for the Humanities, are for kindergarten – 2nd grade but have lots of good background material even if your students are older:

Animals of the Chinese Zodiac and
Lions, Dragons, and Nian: Animals of the Chinese New Year

And from Australia, for grades 5 & 6, a lesson plan on Chinese paper cuts and the zodiac

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Lesson Plans for CNY

Chinese New Year is a great opportunity to have your child learn about another culture, and compare and contrast holiday celebrations. Chinese New Year can be a stand-alone unit study, part of an overview of New Year celebrations, a study of the moon phases, time keeping and different calendars, or part of a larger study of China or Asia or comparing cultures.

Studying Chinese New Year can make it very different from other school activities and focus on creating lanterns and a dragon and listening to Eastern music, or using balls and a flashlight to determine who the phases of the moon are made, or practice folding: paper for origami or wrappers to make spring rolls and dumplings to eat. Trying calligraphy can be an opportunity to hold a pen or brush and write – one that may not have the associated handwriting stress. Some find that using tweezers and attempting chopsticks allows them to work on fine motor coordination in a fun way.

You may want to review my Chinese New Year Overview and Wikipedia’s entry on Chinese New Year before you begin any unit. Any of these can be used during a study of China or Chinese New Year. I especially like the use of folk tales.

Language Arts CNY Lesson Plans

Chinese Music
Chinese Zodiac Lesson Plans
Brushstrokes from West to East is a 43 page document containing Vermont-standards based lesson plans for K - 6, including lanterns, paper cuts, and clay dragons.
Basic "Chinese" Lantern

Not everything fits under the Chinese New Year umbrella. See Musical Mandarin for more "(Chinese) Lesson Plans" including math and (coming soon) Chinese Inventions.

Individual lesson plans:
There are a lot of crafts and activities and individual worksheets on Chinese New Year on the web. Here's a discussion of reasonable sources for mostly worksheets for pre-K through 6th grades.

Of course there are more Lesson Plans on China, not related to the New Year, that you can also use during this time.

Last updated: August 2007

Monday, January 15, 2007

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson

I bet this book by Betty Bao Lord will be moved to a place of prominence in many libraries and bookstores soon - if it is not there already.

If you want some ideas of what else to do:

Supplemental CyberGuide

Lesson Plan, 2, mentions Chinese New Year

Activities: quizes, word search, crossword

For their subscribers, Edhelper's activities on this book.

Teacher Vision has projects and quizes.

A quiz based on Millionaire so the questions keep gettign harder.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Chinese New Year worksheets

My favorite source is probably still Enchanted Learning. Probably because of the little books that you can print out and make. To have full access, the require a small annual fee, but I think you can still see and use some of their things for free.

More worksheets

There are a number of places with word searches and coloring pages. I like the zodiac pictures at Apples4the You can color them interactively which might be fun for the youngest. I am hoping that they will add sentences too.

Ray at has a set of coloring pages too.

There is one 1-37) dot to dot dragon here.

Another source for worksheets, mazes, word finds, and some reading comprehension pieces is . They even have a weekly review section. I have not decided whether it is worth the annual fee of $19.99 for my family, but they expanded their offerings in general since I last looked.

The reading comprehension in their Chinese New Year collection is new to me, and they have also organized it since I last looked. Then, the last thing I looked has an error in it! One reading piece did say to give hong bao to your parents. I have never heard of such a thing! It would be disrespectful to give hong bao to the older generations I know for New Years! Maybe this is a regional issue but I suspect they just slipped up. It is why they are listed last - most of us don't have the time or inclination to fact check every item on a worksheet and need to have a trusted source.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Chinese Modern Dance

H.T. Chen Dance Company and Nai-ni Chen Dance Company both present an interesting mix of Chinese and modern dance, and offer educational programs and shows. It is certainly worth a trip to NYC's Chinatown to see the H.T. Chen dancers. Our introduction was great - we saw a show, went out to lunch, and returned for a workshop. H.T. Chen does not create a new piece specifically for New Year every year.

I believe they are still offering the Lion Dance work that we saw in 2006. The Lion Dance is traditionally part of every Chinese New Year celebration. Nai-ni Chen has posted some Lion Dance pictures and video clips. Nai-ni Chen is presenting their "Year of the Boar" in a number of places, including NJPAC, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and in Flushing.

I think it helps us, and especially our children, to understand when a workshop is also offered. NJPAC offers a FamilyTime Pre-Performance Workshop on Saturday, February 17, 2007 for
Celebrating the Chinese New Year – The Lion Dance. Company members will teach participants how to create their own lion masks and will teach traditional Lion Dance movements used to celebrate the Chinese New Year. If you are near Philadelphia, you may want to consider doing an Asian New Year Party Special Family Event.

Nai-ni Chen Study Guides include:
- Art of Chinese Dance
- for their Dragon's Tale performance
- for their Year of the Boar Chinese New Year's performance (2007)

Here's a clip of the more traditional parade dragon dance.

Friday, January 05, 2007

What's next: Pig or Boar?

Looks like I am not the only one getting ready for the Year of the Pig.  I noticed that the Nai Ni Chen dancers use "Year of the Boar".

from Focus on Culture:
Year of the Pig -
Hai represents month ten in the Chinese lunar calendar, when everything begins to stagnate. It also represents 9 PM to 11 PM, when all is silent apart from the pig's snores.

February 2007 update:
, China
’s state news agency, has banned images of pigs from television ads out of respect for its Muslim minority, which considers the animal unclean. I understand that there are not so many pig images in Malaysia either where there are more Muslims. In Japan, it is generally called the Year of the Wild Boar, instead of Pig.