First Graders Cap China Study with Lunar New Year Celebration

First graders have been studying China throughout the year, so they were brimming with excitement last Friday at a special Lunar New Year Assembly, complete with a traditional dragon parade, handmade noisemakers, and the banging of a gong, to celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Pig. View photos

Fourth grade assembly announcers Kaitlyn Buda, James Moody and Marcus Ortiz introduced the first graders and shared that while often called “Chinese New Year,” this holiday is celebrated throughout Asia. The announcers, who remembered their study of China a few years prior, shared that during this holiday oranges are given as gifts, as are red envelopes with money inside, and that red and orange are the colors of good luck.

The first graders sang two songs including “See the Dragon Come,” and performed a peacock dance led by Performing Arts teacher Jake Alrich.

Sharon Liu, mother of first grader Albert Liu, also made a presentation to the entire first grade sharing the history of the traditions surrounding the holiday. Students learned how families gather together to wish for good luck, good health and prosperity during the 15-day period of celebration which follows the start of Lunar New year. They learned that decorating one’s home with red strips of paper is believed to keep bad spirits away, and that it is important to clean one’s house and open the windows to let bad spirits out before the holiday.

In class, students painted cherry blossoms and practiced counting and writing Chinese numbers. They made the papier-mâché dragon in art class, which they proudly paraded through the Lower School halls.

Students began their interdisciplinary study of China by discussing the country’s population, key industries, weather, climate and wildlife. They then turned their attention to cultural traditions. They also learned about the life of a Chinese student and discussed the similarities and differences to their own experiences.

“I learned that in China, grandparents often come to pick children up at school and take them home for lunch with their families and then bring them back to school,” said Tobias Rodriguez.

“I learned that at school they learn English and do a lot of other things we do, like social studies, library and science,” said Sam Nally.

Students shared that they enjoyed learning about the history of China as much as they liked preparing for the Lunar New Year celebration. They look forward to one day seeing the Great Wall, houseboats, Mount Everest and the Hidden Army in person.

“Now when I go there, it will be more interesting to me because it will be familiar,” said Tobias.