Thursday, 26 January 2017

Baobao's Activity Time: Chinese New Year 2017

It's nearly Chinese New Year, which is always an important time in our family. This year's celebrations begin on the 28th of January and we are waiting for Xiaobao to arrive. If Xiaobao arrives before Saturday, we'll be spending it at home resting and Baba's family will come to us. If Xiaobao hasn't arrived, then we will be celebrating with Baba's extended family.

As it's such an important part of Baobao's culture, I am trying to teach her early about some of the different aspects of the festival. We have been doing a few activities in the run up to Chinese New Year and today/tomorrow we are having two preparation days.

Here are some of the activities we will be doing over the next two days:

Watch a video about Chinese New Year

CBeebies run a wonderful programme about festivals celebrated by children from different cultures around the UK - Let's Celebrate. Baobao really enjoys watching programmes about real children, which will hopefully translate into enjoying learning about how other people live in the future.

We're going to start the day by watching a video from the series about Chinese New Year. It serves as a visual way for Baobao to understand why we are doing the activities that we are doing today.

Cleaning in Preparation

Over the next two days, we will be cleaning the house and decorating in preparation for Chinese New Year. You should sweep out the old in preparation to welcome in the new year. This symbolises removing the bad luck of the previous year from your home. This is the first year when Baobao can join in and although it will make our progress slower, it is an important part of the run up to Chinese New Year.

Once we have finished cleaning, we will decorate the house with red decorations, including some of the activities that Baobao has completed over the last few days.

Lunar New Year Transferring Activity

One of our activities was introducing Baobao to chopsticks. She's still a little young to use them to eat, but this transferring activity based on the one on Living Montessori Now is the perfect way for her to practise.

Baobao really enjoyed using her own chopsticks. She has been interested in them for a while, since we use them regularly at home and at her grandparents' house, so receiving her own pair caused great excitement. She isn't quite ready to eat with them yet, but picking up playdough using two hands to open and close the chopsticks is a great start for the fine motor skills she will require to eventually use them one handed.

Preparing gifts

My First Chinese New Year Book
Listen and Learn First Chinese Words Book
Rather than getting Baobao a red envelope for Chinese New Year, we have decided to give her a language and culture gift each year. We feel it's important for her to gain as deep a connection as possible to her Chinese roots and this is a way for her to do it.

We chose My First Chinese New Year as it is by the same author as her Baby Loves... books. This means that without us being able to see the book in advance, we knew that it would be at an appropriate level for Baobao to understand.

The other book we have chosen is Listen and Learn First Chinese Words. We wanted a resource that Baobao could use on her own, a way for her to practise Mandarin when her Baba is at work or she wasn't visiting her grandparents. We're just waiting for this book to arrive, but we'll review it when it does.

Listen to Chinese songs

A Little Mandarin Album
One of the best ways to learn a language is through song. It helps with pronunciation, intonation and remembering vocabulary. This is especially true for children, who find it easier to remember most things through song. This has been the only album of Mandarin songs I have been able to find so far for Baobao, so we listen to it regularly. She really enjoys the songs and will join in with the actions.

Make decorations for Chinese New Year

Make Paper Cup Lanterns
Baobao really enjoyed this activity. As we couldn't find red paper cups, I glued some red felt to a paper cup and allowed it to dry overnight. We then used sticky shapes to decorate it. Baobao found peeling the back off of the shapes tricky and asked me to peel them for her. I would start it and then she peeled the rest. She placed them all herself on to the lantern.

Once the superglue holding the ribbon to the lantern had dried and we had tidied away the tray, Baobao chose where we would hang her lantern. She was very excited to have it hung on our window tree.

Are you celebrating Lunar New Year with a toddler this year? How have you introduced the festival to them?

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