Today I visited both Harry's and Sara's schools and did a lesson on the Lunar/Chinese New Year which ends this weekend.
Sara's school does not have an Internet-connected computer, so the activities were focused on movement, reading a book about it, circle time, doing related crafts, and singing a song. They made "Year of the Dog" New Year's cards and good luck scrolls. I used photoshop and word to create templates and "stickers" on address labels for them to use.
They really enjoyed the "Gung Hay Fat Choy" song. Before I introduced the song, in the circle time we practiced saying Happy New Year in Chinese. (I told the kids that if they say that in Chinese restaurant to the waiter, it will make the waiter happy and they might even get a second fortune cookie.) Then I played the song and had them raise their hand when they heard the phrase. Next we sang the song together - mostly the chorus. And for each verse, we made up hand movements to match the words. The song has a nice relaxing tune. If I were to do this lesson again, I'd put the song at the end before the snack.
The crafts were a big hit. With two crafts stations set up, and so many kids, I was so busy I didn't remember to take out my digital camera until the end.
At Harry's class, I did the circle time of explaining Chinese New Year -- mostly as an inquiry lecture - asking them lots of questions and encouraging their questions. I also showed them examples. Each kid got a red envelope with Buddhist Prayer Money.
I told them that after circle we would use SKYPE internet phone to call Nick in Hong Kong. These six-year olds were amazed that we could do that with a computer and very impressed that I knew someone in Hong Kong. I explained to them that my computer was turned into a phone and showed on the globe where Hong Kong was. I told them Nick could answer the questions they had about the flickr photo set he put together.
The day before, I had worked with the school's IT Director to get access to their wireless network and get ports cleared so we could I jack in my laptop and get beyond the firewall. I was not able to get on with my laptop. While IT director went back to her office and grabbed her laptop loaded with SKYPE, Harry's teacher and I asked the kids to brainstorm a list of questions they wanted to ask Nick.
I wasn't sure whether Nick would be available -- after it all there is like a 12 hour time difference and that would make 2:00 a.m.. So, we left a message on his mail and the kids screamed all together "Gung Hay Fat Choy." (Later, in a Skype conversation, Nick let me know he got the mail and sent a podcast response!)
Here's the list of questions from some pretty curious 6 year olds:
- What time do Asian people go to bed on Chinese New Year?
- How did the animals know what the emperor ("god") was saying to them when he suggested having a race to name the animal zodiac?
- Was there really a dragon named Nien-- or is that just a story?
- Why did the emperor decide to have a race? What other animals besides the cat didn't win and why?
- When Nieth the Dragon sees the color red, why is he so afraid?
- Did Nieth think the red color was blood?
- Why were the villagers so scared of the dragon if dragons aren't real? Could they have been afraid of something else?
- Is the dragon smart or stupid because he was afraid of firecrackers and loud noise?
- What kind of food do people eat for Chinese New Year? What is the food in the first flickr photo? Is something sweet? It looks yucky.
- Is hard is it to learn how to write Gung Hay Fat Choy?
The kids watched a video of the lion dance. Then I had them color in the masks and then I taught them a very simplified lion dance gestures. They settled down for a snack