One of the units that I personally enjoy teaching is Lunar New Year or Tet as it is known to the Vietnamese community. I love teaching about Tet because it takes me back to when I was a child and brings back all the wonderful and festive memories that I had with my family growing up.
Besides Christmas, Tet was one of the most exciting times of the year for our family. We always began by cleaning up our house to let go of all the previous year’s bad luck, preparing for the incoming New Year with spring flowers and bright colored decorations to call on good luck, and tidying up our family shrine which purpose is to honor our ancestors and call on them to pray and bless our family for the New Year.
In addition, we attended Dragon Dances which are often done in shopping centers, restaurants, and places of worship, including our local church. We would also dress up in our traditional long dresses, wish our elders good wishes for the New Year, receive lucky money, and enjoy traditional snacks and rice cakes.
If you are interested in integrating some cultural fun and celebrate Chinese New Year with your students, I have teamed up with Oriental Trading to bring to you some fun and teaching ideas!
Tidy Up the Classroom to Bring in Good Luck
Encourage students to help you clean out the classroom by starting with their personal learning space and belongings (desk, cubby, backpacks, pencil boxes, learning centers, etc.). Enlist students to straighten up books from library center, pick up trash around the classroom, etc..
Decorate the Classroom with Bright Colors
Red is best known as the color of good luck in Asian traditions. However, any bright color would definitely help make your classroom more festive and fun! Use bright colored construction paper to make lanterns or create cherry blossoms or flowers to place around the classroom! Better yet, decorate your classroom door with this fun Foil Dragon Door Curtain that will definitely help set the stage for all the festivities!
Wish the Teacher and Get Lucky Money
This activity can easily be tied in with English/Language Arts as students are encouraged to write a short note to their teacher to wish him/her a happy and prosperous New Year in exchange for LUCKY MONEY!!! Well, actually…. gold chocolate coins inside red envelops are more like it! 🙂 I promise you, your kids will love you so much for this! Click to the image to grab this and more in my Lunar New Year packet!
Enjoy Some Traditional New Year Snacks Together
Asian markets are filled with traditional New Year snacks and rice cakes during the weeks leading to Chinese New Year. If students are not allowed to consume the food products according to your district policies, they would still love seeing some of them in person or seeing pictures of them.
Read some books on Lunar New Year!
One of my personal favorites is Sam and the Lucky Money will Karen Chinn. It’s provides a short glimpse of how Lunar New Year is celebrated, and it provides the students with a good lesson on generosity.
There are many more wonderful ways to teach and celebrate of Chinese New Year! No matter how you celebrate it, I hope you have a wonderful and prosperous New Year with your family!
Create Your Own Dragon Dance in the Classroom
Show students some drawings of dragons and have them draw and decorate only the head and tail of their dragon. Use glitter, feathers, sequence, the gambit. Connect the head of the dragon with tail but cutting and folding a strip of construction paper like an accordion. Tape or glue a large popsicle stick to the head and another to its tail. Search and play Dragon Dance music on the internet and have your students parade around the classroom with their own dragons!