Sunday, 26 January 2014

Storytime: Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is a time of celebration with an abundance of bright colours, feasts, well wishes and positivity about the year ahead. Traditionally the festivities last for fifteen days, ending on the date of the full moon. If you want to join in with the celebrations and introduce children to Chinese culture and traditions, a Chinese New Year themed storytelling session is a great way to get started. The Great Race is an excellent book for children to have fun learning about the Chinese Zodiac and to find out what their year is.

Which animal will win the race and get the first year of the Chinese calendar named after them? Race along with Rat, Monkey, Dragon, and their companions while discovering the origin of the Chinese Zodiac. This bright and colourful book includes intriguing notes about the Chinese calendar, the festivals, and the animal that rules each year. The book is ideal for 4-9 year olds but can be adapted to fit toddlers. Whilst older children will appreciate the educational aspects of the story, younger children will love the interaction between the different animals. The book is quite lengthy for toddlers but there are lots of opportunities to get them involved in the story by asking them what sounds and movements the animals make and getting them excited about who they think will win the race.

If you can, use puppets to to help bring the story alive. This great dragon puppet is quite expensive but is a great resource for lots of books and it certainly adds wow factor to this story. Musical instruments are also great for this session, I picked up small drums for a punt or two at our local Chinese supermarket, where you will find lots of goodies to decorate the room for your storytelling session.

If you plan ahead, you could always ask the children to dress up as then animal for the year they were born or for each of them to take on the role of one of the animals, so they can act out the race and really get them to step inside the story.

This is guaranteed to be a fun storytelling session and you can easily incorporate activities to the session. Older children can enjoy making dragon puppets, intricate lanterns, fact finding sheets or painting and younger children can enjoy making paper dragons or these simple paper lanterns.

Find out what year each child was born and they can draw their animal onto the paper, before adorning with lots of glitter and sparkly bits and making your lantern. Here's how to make your lantern.

Finish of your session by inviting the children to taste some traditional Chinese foods. Check with parents for any allergies, as I find that a lot of traditional  Chinese New Year biscuits contain nuts. Think lychees, Chinese pears, New Year cakes and of course fortune cookies. This is a great opportunity to open children's senses to different cultures and no matter what the child's age, they are sure to take something away from this great tale.

Happy New Year

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