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.