We celebrated Chinese New Year at Blue Sky Daycare today! It was so much fun- the children were engaged all day and came away from the experience with lots to talk about and great enthusiasm.
To begin, we watched a reading of a short story about the origins of Chinese New Year (you can view it here) as well as a Lion Dance (which you can see here). A very truncated version of the story behind the Chinese Lunar New Year is this:
A terrible dragon named Nian lived in the sea and came out once a year to terrorize villages, destroying crops and livestock. Every year the villagers fled to the mountains on this day to escape the wrath of Nian. One year, an old and weary traveler came to the village just before Nian's appearance. Everyone was busy packing, but one old woman kindly took the stranger in and gave him food and a place to lay his head. In exchange, the traveler told the old woman Nian's secret- Nian was afraid of loud noises and the color red.
The pair hung the house with red paper and banners and lit firecrackers through the night. Nian was frightened away. When the villagers returned, they were surprised to find that the old woman and the stranger remained unharmed. The old woman shared Nian's secret with everyone, and from then on, the village remained protected because the people hung red banners, made loud music, and lit firecrackers on the night Nian was to appear.
We decided it would be fun to make our own loud noises, so we gathered pots, pans, lids, and jingle bells and paraded around the house. I'm sure we frightened some neighbors away in the process!
After our parade, we practiced matching some rhythms on our improvised instruments.
Next, we made some beautiful Chinese lanterns from red construction paper. The children put their names on their papers, then we practiced folding our papers and cutting with scissors.
Scissors require lots of supervision!
After our papers were cut properly, we squeezed glue onto our papers and sprinkled golden glitter onto the papers.
While our glue dried, we used some fabric to make our own version of the two-person costume that the Lion Dance is famous for. The "lions" pranced around the room.
After a bit, the second lion decided to join forces with the first lion...
... so we ended up having an eight-footed lion-caterpillar!
We watched another quick YouTube clip about Chinese New Year and compared our tradition of giving gifts during the holidays to the red envelope tradition in China. We decided that either way it was nice to get and recieve fun gifts!
We finished gluing our lanterns, then we practiced using hole punchers and pipe cleaners to make handles for the lanterns.
Later in the day, we read two books about shapes and a book of words for the littles.
It was a very fun and adventurous day and we wish that our Chinese New Year celebration could happen more than once a year!
See you tomorrow!