There are LOTS of good Chinese-themed books to read. We start out with the one below. It's great for explaining many different concepts in a simple way.
Here's a little sheet I typed up with all of the animals on it. I give it to them to take home. I also let them color a picture of their own animal.
Next, I use a very simple flipchart I made
We find China on the map, then watch a very good movie on Safari Montage
We complete the Venn Digram together
We look at how to write "Happy New Year" in Chinese
After looking at the real characters, I let the kids try writing it themselves. I do it like a directed drawing. First, I give them half of a piece of construction paper (hotdog style). They fold it to make four boxes. This helps to keep their symbols a little neater. On the document camera, I draw one line at a time (trying my best to explain it as I go). They always impress me with how theirs turn out.
This is kid work, not mine-- they all turned out similiar to hers (this wasn't just the best one!)
I like to read Grandfather Tang's Story to them and then have the kids make their own tangram animals. If you haven't read this book before, it's great, and the kids love it.
It's always interesting to watch the kids do their own tangram animals. It seems so easy for some, and so difficult for others. Some of the kids that are really good at reading or math struggle, while some of the strugglers finish quickly. It's a great assessment of spatial skills. I give the kids a little sheet with several animals to choose from, then let them get to work. They have to cut out the tangram pieces, arrange them on their paper, let me check it, then glue the pieces down.
The cat was very easy for one little girl to do, and it turned out perfect. The bunny...well... let's just say I don't think it will be hopping away anytime soon!
Throughout the day I read several other books-- two of my favorites are Ruby's Wish and The Seven Chinese Brothers.
Next week, as one of their reading tubs, my kids will be listening to Sam and the Lucky Money (from BookFlix) and completing a reading response sheet.
How do you celebrate Chinese New Year in your classroom?