Gung Hay Fat Choy!
Chinese New Year is upon us, and we have been learning about it all week. Chinese New Year is a time when family and friends get together and focus on bringing in a new year of health, prosperity, good fortune, and longevity. There are many different stories as to how Chinese New Year came about, but one of the most popular is the story of a monster named Nien who terrorized the people, and was kept away by loud noises (thus firecrackers and drums) the color red, and light (thus the lanterns.) When I talk to the children about the holiday I explain Nien as a nightmare that goes away because of the examples given above, and that new good dreams are one of the good fortunes that come with the New Year. Nightmares really concern the children at this time in their life, and I think the idea of something they can do to make them go away helps them.
One of the highlights of Chinese New Year, is the Dragon Dance.
The dragon represents wisdom, power,wealth, and is a very important aspect of Chinese Culture. It is also said that the Dragon Dance performed on New Year's Day is another thing that scares away the evil spirits and all the bad luck with them.
What would Chinese New Year be at Art and Soul without our own version of a Dragon Dance. While they danced around they sang "Gong Hay Fat Choy." a New Year song we have been learning at school. For the words and music take a look at last years post:
Right before Chinese New Year we received a package with a long strip of bubble wrap.
I saved it because I thought it would be perfect for a dragon.
I cut slits along the side and the children pulled streamers through the holes.
I wish we had red streamers, but yellow is just as significant for the New Year.
Both red and gold are symbols of prosperity and luck.
I already have ideas for next year, I can just see a group paper mache dragon head project in our future!
The celebration days of Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day fell on the same day this year, so as part of our Valentine's treat, we made fortune cookies.
The recipe we use for our fortune cookies is also in last years post, so click on the Valentine's 2012 link above to get to that page. We had a little bit of a harder time with them this year, and I discovered the trick is to take of them off the cookie sheet as soon as they get out of the oven and work FAST!!!!
Chinese New Year's arrival is based on the Lunar Calendar, so each year it falls on a different day and is symbolized by one of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. This year we are celebrating the year of the snake.
We made puppets out of this great snake skin paper that was donated to the school.
They simply made an accordion fold, I say simply, but really at this age it was a skill we worked on learning that day. I had the song "fold it, then flip it." going through my head all day. The kids stapled straws to the front and back and by holding onto them they were able to make the snakes slither.
We were lucky and had some snow to play with this week, so as a team we made a snake in honor of the new year.
Packing the snow in.
I love the hockey sticks as the tongue.
Their favorite part, painting the snake.
The finished product.
Chinese Hand Drums
A popular musical instrument for Chinese New Year are Chinese hand drums.
As part of the celebrations, making noise and playing festive music help bad fortune leave and good fortune arrive.
As a project with my littlest ones I thought making hand drums similar to these traditional one would be fun.
This is not the best quality picture, but it shows how the drums were made.
Tie a long string or cord around a chop stick, then hot glue the stick to an old CD, pull the string to the edges and add a little hot glue to keep them in place. Then add more hot glue to the stick and place a second Cd on top.
the children first started their project by beading a couple beads to each side of the string.
I put a thin coat of white acrylic paint on one side, and the children used red acrylic paint to design how they wanted their drums to look.
Unfortunately they finished them, and then they went out the door so I missed getting a picture of the final project, but they looked and sounded great,
and were a big success for these 2 1/2-3 year olds.
Another New Year's tradition is Luck Money. Red envelops are given out with money in them to
represent more good fortune to come.
The children decorated their own red envelopes and then I gave each of them 8 fake dollars for their envelopes.
May Good Luck and Health be with you during this year of the snake.
Gong Hay Fat Choy!