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3 activities to celebrate the Chinese New Year

As you teach your child about other cultures during your homeschool program, consider integrating a celebration of the Chinese New Year into your curriculum! This festival falls on Feb. 19 this year, and there are plenty of activities that can help your child gain an appreciation for this important aspect of Chinese culture. Here are a few ideas:

Learn about your birth years
The traditional Chinese calendar follows the lunar year, and each year is tied to an animal of the zodiac: dog, dragon, horse, monkey, pig, rabbit, rat, rooster, ox, sheep, snake or ox. According to legend, each animal possesses certain characteristics that are embodied by those born in that year. Feb. 19, 2015, to Feb. 7, 2016, marks the year of the sheep, but you and your child can have fun learning about the years in which you were born and what that says about your personalities.

Have a traditional meal
An important aspect of the Chinese New Year celebration is spending time honoring family. What better way to do this than by cooking together? You can even incorporate the experience into your homeschool lessons by talking about fractions during the process. Here are a few traditional dishes to try out:

  • Nian gao
  • Jai
  • Gok jai
  • Jiaozi

Make lanterns
The Festival of Lanterns is celebrated on the 15th day of the Chinese New Year. You can make these beautiful lantern decorations at home - all you will need is:

  • Red construction paper (the color red denotes good fortune and happiness in Chinese culture)
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Yarn

Fold a sheet of paper in half hot dog-style so it creates a long, thin rectangle. Then, cut a series of slits along the fold line about an inch apart, being sure not to cut all the way to the other end of the paper. Unfold the paper and glue the two ends together to create a cylinder. Next, cut a strip of paper and glue it to one end of the lantern to create a handle. Repeat the process and string the lanterns together on a piece of yarn so you can hang them in your home for your New Year's celebration!

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