Friday, January 31, 2014, Chinese New Year 2014. This is the beginning of THE YEAR OF THE HORSE!
We have been studying China history this month. What a coincidence that the Chinese New Year fell during our study.
History of the Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year has been celebrated for over 4,000 years. It is the most important holiday in China, sort of like our Thanksgiving to New Year’s celebrations combined into one. One fact we learned was that the date is not fixed but is based upon the Lunar Cycle. The New Year falls on the first day of the first moon between January 21 and February 19. This year it falls on January 31st!
Another curious fact about the New Year: The date used to ONLY be announced by the Emperor, who was known as The Son of Heaven. The farmer’s would plant their crops based upon this date!
The Chinese Zodiac
The Chinese Zodiac is a 12-year cycle, each year relating to an animal. The animal signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. This too is calculated according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar! (We have learned just how important the moon was to the ancient Chinese people!)
Until the introduction of the Christian calendar, the Chinese used the Zodiac for counting the years.
The kids found the Zodiac funny. Of course we had to look up what type of animals reside in our house. They are as follows:
Momma & Calvin- The Year of the Tiger
Daddy & Bella – The Year of the Horse
Gabby – The Year of the Dragon
We had a tiny discussion comparing this with Astrology. Which led Gabby to want to learn more about Greek and Roman Mythology…so history is going to be quite interesting the next month as we study Japan and Oregon History.
We also enjoyed this funny version of how the Chinese Zodiac came into existent. Hope you enjoy!
The Story of the Chinese Zodiac (Watch out for the Rat!)
Chinese Celebration Plans
Today we are going to celebrate the Chinese New Year with friends. (Tomorrow we have a previously scheduled field trip). So many cool ideas/plans were available…it was hard to pick just one.
We will begin the day reviewing the history of the day.
- Bet You Didn’t Know – History.com. Learn which 2 creatures of the zodiac are the most important to the Chinese New Year.
- Chinese New Year Holiday – History.com. Learn the history of the 15-day long Chinese New Year celebration.
After watching the videos we will take a break for a celebration of food. The menu includes:
- Chowmein or Fried Rice (from Panda Express)
- Fortune Cookies
After we eat (with chopsticks of course!) then we’ll begin the fun art activities planned. There are 9 kids from ages of 3 to 15. This can make finding something they can do together tricky. Here’s what we finally agreed upon.
For the Middle School/High School Kids
Chinese Scrolls by Barb Gilman
For the Younger Kids
Red Ted Art Dragon Puppet Craft
More Learning Ideas
- Make Paper Fortune cookies from Education.com.
- Chinese New Year (for Middle School) Lesson from Peabody Essex Museum
- Chinese New Year Crafts from Spoonful
- Get Your Chinese Name & Animal Online from Mandarin Tools
- Play games online at Primarygames.com
- Penny has an amazing list of ideas for an unit study on the Chinese New Year
Want a pre-planned unit study?
Chinese New Year Unit Study from HLN – In February, Chinese Americans all over the U.S. will be celebrating the Chinese New Year. This centuries-old holiday is filled with exciting traditions and rituals-fireworks, parades, feasting, and lots of good luck charms. Experience the Chinese New Year with your children in this interactive unit! For Grades K-12. Cost $3.95.
Simple Schooling Chinese New Year Fun Book – The Simple Schooling Chinese New Year Fun Book is filled with exciting images and activities that allow your student to fully experience this traditional Asian holiday! (Note, from 2012). Cost is currently $1.99 (regularly $3.99)
St Aiden’s Homeschool Chinese Studies – Primary ages (2-5 grades) Includes a study on the Zodiac, Bingo, Math, Printables and more!
Are you interested in reading about China? We recommend the books we have read during this month!
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