The holidays are upon us and that means keeping the kiddos entertained! Here are some fun learning activities you can do with them.
Spending time with your family over CNY is the perfect opportunity to read and get creative with your kids. Here are three of our favourite English language stories about China and some activities to try out with your kids as you read them together. Kung Hei Fat Choy!
A New Year’s Reunion by Yu Li-Qiong
Little Maomao’s father works faraway and she only gets to see him when he comes home for Chinese New Year. Whilst at first she doesn’t remember him, soon the traditions of the holiday make their short time together extra special. They watch the dragon dance, search for a lucky coin and enjoy sticky rice balls as a family.
This charming illustrated book for pre-schoolers is both heart-warming and poignant, as the joy of the reunion is all too fleeting. We like to use this book to talk to kids about the themes of homecoming and of family love.
- Discuss the celebrations that your family share each year. Do they differ from those enjoyed by Maomao? Does your child have distant family they share these with? Even though celebrations and traditions may vary, the story of missing faraway relatives is universal.
- Each Chinese New Year is named after an animal. This will be the Year of the Monkey. Have a go creating your own monkey drawing, or maybe even a collage with all 12 of the animals in the Chinese zodiac.
- For older children, write a story about a homecoming. Before setting pen to paper, first decide whether the reunion will bring joy or trepidation, and whether the returning party is there to stay or will leave again. Mapping out a story before writing is a good discipline for kids of all ages to practice.
Magic Paintbrush by Julia Donaldson
Shen is given a very special gift. Anything she paints with her enchanted paintbrush will spring off the paper to life. She tries to keep her promise to only help the poor but a greedy emperor is determined to persuade her to paint him riches. The book explores Shen’s struggle against greed and power.
Julia Donaldson has a captivating way with words and we find both older children as well as the very young enjoy this book on different levels, making it perfect for siblings to read together.
- Explain to your child that this is a fable – a story with a moral lesson. Explore together what you think the moral of this fable is.
- You may want to compare morals from different fables, especially looking at tales from the East and from the West to see if you can find themes that connect them.
- Imagine that you have a magic paintbrush. Use it to paint a scene that you would like to come to life. Perhaps a celebratory feast for your family for Chinese New Year?
Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah
Adeline Yen Mah first wrote this story in her adult autobiography, Fallen Leaves. This is the same tale reworked for children and tells the story of her difficult life as an unwanted and rejected child. Bullied by her stepmother and dismissed by her father, Jung-Ling has only her aunt and grandfather to offer her any love and kindness. She grows up to be an academic and thoughtful child with a passion for writing. This is a beautiful book full of emotion but ultimately a story of triumph in the face of adversity.
We love this book for older children, from the age of 10 upwards and it is the perfect book to read and discuss together.
- Talk about the idea of autobiography and memoir and then have a go at writing your own. What have been the main events of your life so far? What are your happiest and saddest moments?
- Old traditions and customs are explored in the book. Take a look at this and think about what your own family customs are. How do you think your grandparents’ traditions will be different from those of your grandchildren’?
- Lots of beautiful clothing and jewellery are described in the book. Show your artistic side by drawing pictures of the main characters, decked out in all their finery!