After a week of making decorations, writing calligraphy in black tempera paint, and stringing handmade paper lanterns across the school we started to hear murmurs of questions as to what the celebration was for. By telling students “It’s for Chinese New Year,” simply isn’t an exaggerated response. Students nod as they “ooh” and “aah” through the halls at all the embellishments and take the answer they are given.
But of course we took it a step further. We couldn’t exactly do a whole new school takeover with the Asian Invasion but we could further the discussion with the ELL students. I did a little research online and printed off two short articles about New Years traditions. I found a great visual element to match perfectly with the discussion-Chinese/Lunar New Year compared to American/English New Year traditions.
First we read through our reading materials and highlighted the important facts. We highlighted as a group to ensure we were all on the same page with our reading and our discussion. (Learning to highlight just the facts can be a reading focus lesson on its own.) The kids shared fun anecdotes about the celebration from their homes as I shared some of things we do to celebrate here in the USA. This, of course, involved sharing a video of the giant ball dropping in New York City’s Time Square.