This past week we celebrated the Lunar New Year in my classroom and explored Chinese culture and traditions. It was such a fun-filled week of learning that one of my parents stopped by Wednesday morning to tell me that her daughter was waking up extra early because she was so excited to complete the project we were working on!
We began our unit with a “preview video” and before the video was over, my students were hooked! (I stopped the video at 2:33.) They immediately started asking questions and came up with amazing ideas of things they wanted to do and learn.
As we had just finished an inquiry on hibernation and migration (I’ll blog about that soon!), I connected the two units by playing this video of the Harbin Ice Festival.
With each image change, my students “oooohed” and “ahhhhhed.” They had so much to share after it finished playing. One student raised her hand and asked, “Can we paint this tomorrow Miss Smith?”
“Of course we can!” I said enthusiastically!
They next morning, students walked in to find a few new provocations. The first one was “Can you paint the Harbin Ice Festival?” I projected an image from the video and my students filled this table quickly.
They painted such beautiful pictures of the ice festival that I had one of our volunteers mount and laminate them.
Another provocation that was frequently visited this week was writing Chinese characters on Buddha boards.
I have had these Buddha boards for a few years now and my students LOVE them.
Watercoloring Chinese characters
“Can you build the great wall of China out of clay?”
Each day I read a different picture book to my students.
We completed many activities to go along with each book. A favorite was trying to find the longest noodle from my wok using chopsticks! Whoever got the longest noodle was deemed “emperor for the day!” (They loved playing this game!!)
They really enjoyed all of the books, but what they were most fascinated with was the lion dances and stories that included a dragon.
After the story, “Lion Dancer” one student asked, “Can we make a dragon for a Chinese New Year parade, too?” My other students were very excited at this idea as well. So, we collaborated on a plan on how we could do this. In the middle of the conversation, a student raised their hand and suggested that we watch a video on a dragon dance to see what they look like.
I pulled up a video from YouTube so we could dig deeper into our research. (We watched the first 30 seconds of this video.)
We practiced making small dragons first.
For the head you take a piece of construction paper and fold it the long way in thirds. Tape in the middle to secure. Next have the kids fold it in half. Finally, take each end part and fold it out to the fold. Tape the outside edges to secure. You can see in the above pictures how the kids can put their fingers in to make a puppet!
Finally, add details and a body! Some students wanted to create a link chain body and others wanted to make their bodies differently. I love the creativity they showed in creating their dragons!
(Such great collaboration and teamwork!!)
We then got to work on the biggest project I have ever completed with a group of kindergarteners! My students decided that they should each make a piece of our large dragon’s body. We broke up into teams of 2 and drew a plan to show what they wanted their section of the dragon to look like.
Each team found a section of the room to work in and got set up. As we have 18 students in my classroom, we had 4-5 projects going on at one time. While half the kids were working on their projects, the other half were working on adding details to their mini dragons (or putting on plays with them!) or engaged in other centers and activities.
They worked so beautifully together to create their part of the dragon.
They referred back to their plans during the creating part often.
While waiting for one side to dry, my class decided to write invitations to our dragon dance for the rest of the students at our school. They wanted everyone to help us celebrate!
Another special treat that we enjoyed was listening to our PE teacher (who is from China) teach us about her family traditions.
Three of our third graders were born in China and came to share with our class as well!
My students loved looking at the Chinese items they brought in and asked very thoughtful questions.
Finally, it was time to practice our dragon dance. My students practiced putting on their piece of the dragon a few times before the parade. (We taped handles to the inside so the kids could hold on to it while they walked.)
Then, it was time! We lined up outside, turned on our song, and started parading!
The whole school came to watch!
My students were BEYOND excited.
And we celebrated with a Chinese FEAST!
What a FUN week!!!
This was our favorite song this week!
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