Last weekend it was the Chinese New Year. I realise you probably won’t be looking for craft ideas to do with that now (seeing as it’s over) but we had a lot of fun and most of the fun really came from finding something we could theme activities around.
I knew I wanted to make a lantern but wasn’t sure how we could decorate it to fit with the theme, so I typed ‘Chinese new year’ into Google and found lots of interesting information. On the BBC Schools – Festivals and Events website I found out that “red symbolises fire which will scare away evil spirits, so people dress head to foot in new red clothing”. If I’d been a bit more organised I would have dressed R in red that morning, but never mind. I got all the red pens, crayons and pencils out and R got scribbling on a piece of white A4 paper. When she had had enough of that, I folded it in half, and cut vertical lines from the folded side, about 1.5 cm apart, stopping about 3 cm from the edge of the paper. I then unfolded it and taped the edges together. R seemed pretty happy with her lantern (though she refused to have her picture taken with it, perhaps she thought I’d done a shoddy job of the cutting and didn’t want it attributed to her).
While we were doing that, we listened to some Chinese music. I’ve got a music degree, but I’m ashamed to say I don’t know all that much about non-Western music. I searched on Spotify for ‘Chinese New Year’ and it threw up a few interesting pieces.
As it’s the beginning of the Year of the Snake, we also tried to draw some snakes – I drew some wiggly lines and got R to copy them. She liked this and shouted ‘wiggle wiggle’ at the same time, so I can highly recommend wiggly snakes.
After we’d made our lantern we watched some dragon dances on YouTube – that was really fun – and also watched some fireworks from around the world. I then stepped into the realm of über-pretentious mummy, and we watched a video teaching us how to say ‘hello’, and some other basic phrases, in Mandarin Chinese.
Again, I rather wished I’d been a bit more organised as it would have been great to have some Chinese food for R to try too. It was fun to do this though, and I think we will try and do it for major festivals from different cultures – I’m not sure what to look at next, so if anyone has any ideas do let me know. I’d like us both to learn more about other cultures, and doing activities around a theme has a lot of mileage in it too, I think.
Oh, and – Gung Hay Fat Choy! (Well, we had to have some Cantonese too. Or I would be a very bad pretentious mummy.)