Thursday, February 6, 2014

Gung Hay Fat Choy

I am totally enamored with Chinese New Year. It is a time of celebration and renewal wrapped around a fantastic tradition steeped in imaginative, magical mythology.

What's not to love?

This year, for the first time, I brought my first grade students to visit the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) for  a guided tour led by a museum educator which provided a small taste of the incredible Chinese culture.

The program included an "exploration of the exhibit and hands-on activities to allow students to experience history from primary sources".

Our experience began with an explanation of the lunar calendar upon which the celebration is based.  Oh, that old devil moon keeps us on our toes.  The calendar is ever shifting according to the cycle of the new moon.  This can make it difficult for the uninitiated (like me) to figure out if I am rabbit or a tiger.  The description of the tiger fits better but I think I am actually a rabbit.

We spent the 75 minutes learning about the significance and symbolism of lanterns, dragons, lions, colors (red, gold), food (Mandarin oranges, apples, fish), flowers, red envelopes, fireworks, Chinese astrology, the zodiac, decorations, music, dance and family.

Students taking notes and making observational drawings.

In class, we read wonderful stories about the great race the animals competed in at the emperor's request to earn a place in the zodiac.

A particular favorite is Cat and Rat: The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac by Ed Young.  The children also enjoyed The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale by Ying Chang Compestine and Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin.

It was a day to honor the past and welcome the future.

And it gave us an opportunity to sweep our classroom clean of the old year and prepare for happy times.  On a day where your actions set the stage for the coming year, I was happy to witness a group of kindhearted, loving children.

Their actions let me know that it's going to be a good year.


Steve Reed said...

Maybe you're both rabbit AND tiger, depending on the circumstances. :)

Gary said...

I can't believe I didn't even allow for that possibility. It is fitting in so many ways.

37paddington said...

Brings back memories of being a parent chaperone on such trips. Sounds like a lovely group of kids.

Gary said...

I love it when parents can make time to join us on our trips. Sadly, it doesn't happen too often.


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