This was my first Kindergarten unit I pretty much developed on my own. I was so excited to do it and had been looking forward to it since we had our own Chinese New Year celebration at home last year. We did this unit from the time we got back to school after the Christmas break and culminated at our Chinese New Year party on January 23rd, it was a total of 4 classes. I had a number of picture books we used throughout the unit.
Book – Lion Dancer by Kate Waters. This may seem like a strange book to start the unit with but I had a method to my madness. Our biggest creation was going to be our own Chinese Lion costumes and we were going to make our own dance and musical instruments. This was a great book to introduce the Lion Dance. After reading we made a list of all the Chinese customs in the book.
After reading the book we watched a few youtube clips of lion dancing. Each group was going to make their own lion head. On this first day all they did was paint a base colour for their box. The key for success is finding the perfect size box. I happen to find 4 boxes all the same size that were perfect to fit over a 4/5 year old’s head. My EA had pre-cut eye holes in each box so the kids didn’t have to worry about that. We also learned our “Lion Dance Song” and made up or own clapping pattern for our dance.
Before we left for the day we added Chinese New Year to our calendar and found China on our map of the world.
Book: Happy Chinese New Year, Kai-lan by Lauryn Silverhardt. I am always hesitant using book based on shows the kids watch because sometimes the writing is forced but this book was pretty good – and had lots of great Chinese traditions. I also tied in nicely to our Character Ed trait of Responsibility that we were learning about in January.
After reading this book we watched a few clips on youtube and compared the Chinese Lion and Dragon dances. They are very different but both very important in Chinese culture. We finished our Lion Head costumes this day and I attached a red strip of fabric to each for the tails. Basically all I did was give them as many craft materials that I could find and let them explore. For some reason I am missing a number of my pictures but when I find better pictures I will add them in.
We started working on our dance, which was pretty much just a marching pattern to match the clapping pattern we had created. Now we added instruments instead of clapping. We used small hand drums and small cymbals.
For fun the kids made Chinese spin drums using old CDs we painted red, doweling, string and wooden beads. We didn’t use them in our dance as it would have been chaos but it was fun for the kids to make and take home.
Book: My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz. This is a very simple book but great at showing the variety of Chinese traditions around Chinese New Year. Again we made a list while reading the book.
After reading the book we made a Venn Diagram (with pictures) comparing the traditions in each of the tree books we had read.
It was a crude drawing but showed how special food and red envelopes were in all the books. From here I suggested that maybe we could use some of these common traditions to hold our own Chinese New Year celebration.
To finish off our day we integrated our patterning studies in math into our Chinese New Year studies. In math we created patterns on strips of paper that were to be used as tails for kites. At the end of the day our Big Buddies came to visit an helped us make dragons on diamond paper for our kites. We used our handprints for the body, cut out the head and then got creative with the decorations.
Day 4: Chinese New Year!!
Book: A New Year’s Reunion by Yu Li-Qiong. This is an awesome new book. It was great for retell as we told what happened on each day of the new year celebration. We also did a text-to-text connection picture where they made a connection between this book and one of the three previous books we read.
During math we made Chinese lanterns and decorated them with patterns using different colours and shapes.
During the last block we had our party. Most of the party was spent eating. We order Won Ton Soup, Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls and Vegetable Lo Mein from our local chinese food restaurant. We bought small egg rolls at the grocery store and I made sticky balls for desert. I was so proud that everyone tried everything and I didn’t hear any complaints. After eating any students that wanted make dragon masks.
Day 5: The Wrap Up
To summarize everything we learned on Chinese New Year every student completed a glyph. I found a colouring page of a dragon and simplified it for our use. You can find the instructions for the glyph dragon glyphs. I know I took pictures of the bulletin board with the glyphs and when I find it I will add them to this blog.