Monday, January 28, 2013

Making Dumplings with the 3rd Grade

When Katherine was in kindergarten, her teacher asked me to come in and talk about Chinese New Year.  I did and had a lot of fun.  And the kids, most of whom had never heard of Chinese New Year, LOVED it.  When the 1st grade teacher heard about our little party, she asked me to talk to her class, too.  And since then it has just snowballed!  This year, I am visiting every class from kindergarten to 4th grade, talking about China and welcoming in the Year of the Snake.

I don't have students two Fridays a month (my plan time), so I have scheduled most of the CNY festivities for those days.  I bring in a few of the girls' silk outfits, New Year's decorations, and random Chinese items.  I read a story and talk about Chinese New Year and answer lots and lots of questions about China.  Last Friday I painted snakes with 2nd graders and had lively conversations with the 4th graders about traffic problems in China and the merits of having crickets as pets. 

The first week of school, Katherine informed her teacher that there would be Chinese New Celebrations in class.  She was already planning what to do!  Kate's teacher was amused and more than happy to join the celebration.  Friday was finally the big day.  Katherine had begged to cook with her class.  More specifically, she had begged to make dumplings with her class.  So we did!  And the kids LOVED it, of course!  I had the pork filling prepared ahead of time, so all we needed to do was fill the wonton wrappers, seal them, and boil the dumplings.
Katherine was the expert dumpling maker - fast and confident.
She always insists on changing into her Chinese silks when I visit for CNY.  And I let her.  They are so beautiful and special and unlike anything any of her classmates own.  And they make her happy.
The kids were eager to try their cooking and many had seconds.  One boy, who rarely eats his lunch at school, had fourths!
Kate's teacher had all sorts of Chinese themed activities planned for the day.  They made paper lanterns, practiced writing numbers in Chinese, and played with tangrams.  Katherine attracted lots of curious attention when she counted in Mandarin.
Then we had a long and interesting conversation about China.  The kids had such thoughtful questions!  We talked about what people eat and drink on a daily basis in China, what sorts of snack foods are popular, what schools are like there, what people drive, how Chinese writing is different from English, and all sorts of other subjects.  The kids were totally engaged and everyone was having a good time!

I know the time will come when Katherine is embarrassed to be seen in public with me, but for now she is so proud and excited to have her Mom come and talk to her friends.  She loves this cultural exchange that we have made a tradition in her little school.  She loves dressing in her silks and showing off her Chinese skills and being openly, proudly Chinese.  This day is just a wonderful affirmation of who she is.  Katherine never says much during the festivities, but her face just glows.
I hope I have the opportunity to "do" Chinese New Year at school for a long, long time.

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