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Monday Morning Ready01.19.2017
Jumpstart Your Week!

Nothing says Chinese New Year like a bright red lantern. It bobs and shines its good luck message. For many, these iconic lanterns are identified with China. Each year, China's annual lantern festival brings more awareness to the traditional form of lighting. Chinese New Year falls on Jan. 28 this year. The lantern festival will take place on Feb. 11. For China's lantern makers, it's right around the corner.... < read more >
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Grade 3-4

Why do you think the color red symbolizes good luck in Chinese culture? What color do you consider to be lucky? Why?

Grade 5-6

Bright red lanterns are symbols of good luck for the Chinese New Year. What objects are symbols for holidays that you celebrate? What do the symbols mean?

Grade 7-8

To celebrate the New Year, people in China release bright red lanterns that float in the sky. How and why do you think this simple act grew into an over-the-top annual tradition?

Grade 9-10

According to the article, most Chinese lanterns are now decorated with "socialist core values" slogans that reflect the president's priorities. Yet the vast majority of online comments about the slogans are negative. What, if anything, does this tell you about Chinese society?

LESSON PLAN
Create a Traditional Item for the Chinese New Year

PROCESS:

  1. Instruct students to conduct research to learn more about the Chinese New Year. How and when did it begin? Why do people celebrate it with lanterns? And what, other than releasing lanterns into the sky, do people do to celebrate the holiday?
  2. Remind students that the lanterns are red, a color that symbolizes good luck in China. And they are decorated with pictures and symbols. Like the color, each picture or symbol has a significant meaning.
  3. Explain that some people decorate their lanterns with phrases in Chinese. Traditionally, many of these phrases have been riddles. People write the riddles on paper notes and paste them to their lanterns. When someone thinks they know the answer, they remove the note and check with the person who wrote it. If they're right, they get a small prize.
  4. Give students time to create a lantern or another traditional object related to the Chinese New Year. 

ASSESSMENT: 

Invite students to share their items with the class. Encourage them to share what they learned about the Chinese New Year.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:    

Grades 3-4:
Prior to conducting this activity, download basic instructions on how to create a Chinese lantern. Gather the necessary supplies. As a class, conduct research to learn about the Chinese New Year. Then instruct each student to make a lantern. Tell students to select their own "lucky" color. Have them decorate their lanterns with symbols or phrases that have special meaning in their lives.

Grades 5-6:
Prior to conducting this activity, download basic instructions on how to create a Chinese lantern. Gather the necessary supplies. Have students conduct research to learn about the Chinese New Year in small groups. Then instruct each student to make a lantern. Tell students to select their own "lucky" color. Have them decorate their lanterns with symbols or phrases that have special meaning in their lives. When the lanterns are finished, instruct each student to write a brief report. Tell students to explain why they chose the color they did and what each symbol or phrase on their lanterns means.

Grades 7-8:
Divide the class into pairs. Instruct partners to conduct research to learn more about the Chinese New Year. Tell them to select one item other than lanterns that is part of the celebration. If students wish to demonstrate a more involved tradition, such as a dragon dance, encourage several pairs to form a small group. Provide the necessary supplies. Give students time to create something that illustrates this tradition. 

Grades 9-10:
Divide the class into pairs. Instruct partners to conduct research to learn more about the Chinese New Year. Tell them to select one item other than lanterns that is part of the celebration. If students wish to demonstrate a more involved tradition, such as a dragon dance, encourage several pairs to form a small group. Provide the necessary supplies. Give students time to create something that illustrates this tradition. When the items are finished, instruct each student to write a brief report. Have students explain what the item is, what it symbolizes to the Chinese and how it became an important part of the Chinese New Year celebration.

SMITHSONIAN RESOURCES
Finding the Musical Clues within the Music of the Chinese New Year
In this Smithsonian Folkways lesson, students will learn about Chinese instruments and listen to music to decode and describe the sounds they hear. Then they will write their own song to tell a story about the way they celebrate the New Year.

China History Timeline
Use this interactive timeline from the Freer|Sackler Galleries to introduce students to Chinese history through art. The timeline provides a short description of each major period of Chinese history from the Late Neolithic Period (5,000 – 2,000 BCE) to the present day.

Lunar New Year Stamps
In this set of four lessons, students examine postage stamps commemorating the Asian Lunar New Year and learn some of the back story. The lessons, created by the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, are divided into grades K–2, 3–5, 6–8 and 9–12.

Word Play: Contemporary Art by Xu Bing
Introduce students to bold, thought-provoking works of art that challenge their preconceptions about written communication with this exhibit from the Freer|Sackler Galleries. The interactives in the exhibit are based on the artwork of contemporary Chinese artist Xu Bing, who focuses on mixing language with fine art.

This Stunning Dragon Dance Was All for the Sake of Tea
The dragon dance is one of China’s most beautiful lunar New Year traditions. Read this Smithsonian article to see and read how people in one village used the dragon dance to pray for a good tea harvest in the new year.

14 Fun Facts About Fireworks
Read this Smithsonian article to learn more about fireworks, which were invented by the Chinese and are part of many long-standing Chinese traditions.
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