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Jan 23, 2012
Beginning today, the 15-day festival celebrating the Chinese New Year kicks off with feasts, family, dragon dances, colorful costumes and lots of fireworks.
2012 is the Year of the Dragon, and you can incorporate some fun activities into your classroom to support diversity and the study of other cultures.
Just like my family eats black-eyed peas and collard greens on our New Year (Jan. 1), the Chinese celebrate with food too. When I was a child, my mom and several other PTA mothers helped my brother’s class celebrate the Chinese New Year with a big luncheon for the entire 5th grade — and since I wasn’t in school yet, I got to tag along! I still remember the colorful costumes and exotic smells—well they seemed exotic at the time; I was only 4!
On the menu: Long noodles, which brings the one who eats them longevity; sweet and sour chicken; steamed rice; oranges, which symbolize luck and wealth; and almond cookies.
Now if your PTA parents aren’t up for the challenge of a big meal, that’s Ok. There are plenty of other things you can do in the classroom.
Teach your students the phrase: Kung hei Choy, which means “may you prosper.”
Try hanging a big red banner for good luck. Allow your students to write a good luck message on it using colorful pencils.
Teach your class about one legend that says people began doing dragon dances to awaken the dragon that brought needed spring rain to the crops.
Or explain that throughout much of China, families give their homes a thorough scrubbing, “sweeping away any ill fortune” to make room for incoming, good luck.
Another ancient Chinese custom was to fill bamboo stems with gunpowder to create little explosions. The Chinese believed the noise would drive away evil spirits.
It’s also a Chinese New Year’s custom to reconcile with everyone, forget all grudges and wish peace to each person. What classroom can’t use a dose harmony?
Create red “lanterns” out of construction paper. (The Lantern Festival is on the 15th day of the Chinese New Year, and officially ends the celebration.)
Teach your students the different 12 Chinese Zodiac years.
If you were born in 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000 or 2012, your Chinese Zodiac is the dragon.
The other 11 zodiac signs include: The year of the Rat; The year of the Ox; The year of the Tiger; The year of the Rabbit; The year of the Snake; The year of the Horse; The year of the Sheep; The year of the Monkey; The year of the Rooster; The Year of the Dog; and The year of the Pig.