Chinese New Year is the biggest celebration of the year in China. Beginning on the last day of the lunar month and continuing to the 15th day of the first month, it is the longest festival celebrated in China. The bright colors, cultural symbols and lasting traditions lend themselves well to creative writing assignments that meet second-grade curriculum objectives.
On the night before the Chinese New Year begins, it is traditional for families to join together for a reunion dinner. During this time, the importance of family is emphasized and ancestors are honored. Use this topic for a creative writing assignment. Have students list their family members and write something interesting about each one. Then choose one individual family member and write a short essay explaining why their relationship is special. Tell them to include fond memories and anecdotes to support their topic.
Good Fortune Couplets
During the Chinese New Year celebration, it is traditional to hang poems called “couplets” on windows and doors. These couplets usually have the theme of good luck and happiness. Couplets exist in English and American poetry as well. They consist of two lines of rhymed poetry with the same meter. Assign students the task of writing couplets with the theme of good luck and happiness. Although it may be difficult for second-graders to grasp the concept of meter, it can explained as the pattern of accented and unaccented syllables in a line of poetry. To illustrate, you can clap out the beat as you read two lines of metered poetry, such as “Lightning, thunder all around / Soon the rain is on the ground.”
Read books to students about the Chinese New Year so they have a good understanding of the customs associated with it. Good choices are “Bringing in the New Year” by Grace Lin, “The Dancing Dragon” by Marcia K. Vaughan and “Happy Happy Chinese New Year” by Demi. On the board, draw a Venn diagram and ask students to discuss the similarities and differences between the Chinese New Year celebration and an American New Year celebration. Then have them write an essay comparing the two.
Writing Prompts in Red
During the Chinese New Year celebration, it is customary to decorate with red because it symbolizes good luck. People will dress in red clothing and give gifts in red envelopes or red packages. Give each student a red envelope in which you have placed a writing prompt. This could be a picture or words cut from a magazine, or a random object such as a button or piece of cloth. Tell students to think of things the writing prompt reminds them of and write a story about it. Incorporate themes from the Chinese New Year celebration such as family, good fortune and happiness.
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