Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gung Hei Fat Choy!

It's Chinese New Year!!! and the Year of the Ox!

I've prepared a week of exciting lessons that incorporate China. We'll be reading Yeh-Shen - A Cinderella Story from China, retold by Ai-Ling Louie, and The Greatest Treasure, retold by Demi. I'll be able to use both stories for lessons on story elements, character traits, and for a compare/contrast study. There is also plenty of rich vocabulary in these stories for my ELLs to experiment with and add to their word wall.

During writing, we'll use these stories to talk about similes and metaphors, and later to examine descriptive language. I want my students to write a reflective piece about why and how they are like their animal in the Chinese zodiac. We'll also read Chinese Proverbs, collected by Ruthanne Lum McCunn. I'll then invite the students to select their favorite proverb to paraphrase and illustrate.

Since we're already into geometry, we'll use tangrams and work on visual/spatial skills, symmetry, and patterns. We'll review geography skills using maps of China and Asia. I've prepared science lessons on Chinese inventions and phases of the moon. We'll also take a look at the Chinese zodiac; kids (and adults!) like to figure out what animal they are.

I'm also hoping to assign a couple of art activities, which they'll end up having to do at home anyway. One is a fan; the design on the fan tells a story. I'll use this as a follow-up to the stories we read, but I'll also give the option to create an original story. After they look at art depicting dragons, and examine a Chinese Dragon website, they'll also get to design their own dragon, including its name, special features, and qualities.

I know I've over planned, as usual. I know it's wishful thinking that we'll get to all of it, considering interruptions, fire drills, and the reality of having to clarify and facilitate language for my ELLs every step of the way. But I'm hopeful. My kids are enthusiastic, and they're making great strides in so many ways. Besides, I know where they're at and I go with it. I'm helping and pushing them along gently, backing off when I know I must.

As the Chinese proverb says - You cannot help shoots grow by pulling them up.

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