Four fun DIY ideas for Chinese New Year, the year of the monkey
Dragons, monkeys, delicious food and colorful artwork await those planning to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Also known as the Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year occurs at the turn of the Chinese lunar calendar, which can fall between January 21 and February 20. This year it falls on a Monday.
âChinese New Year is about the value of family,â says Peter Chen, principal of the Chinese School of South Jersey. âIt’s the equivalent of Thanksgiving. Family members make an effort to come home for a reunion and spend time with each other. It is also an opportunity for reconciliation; differences are spread in an atmosphere of warmth, support and love.
There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, and each year represents one of 12. This year introduces the monkey, and children born during this time will be intelligent, witty and inventive, Chen says.
The South Jersey Chinese School has 120 students and offers courses in Chinese language, Chinese painting, chess, arts and crafts, flower arranging, Chinese folk dance, martial arts and more. Moreover. Students come from various ethnic backgrounds and vary in age. There are classes for toddlers to adults, which learn Chinese culture on Sunday afternoons at John A. Carusi Middle School in Cherry Hill.
âIt is important to teach children about other cultures so that they are brought up in a diverse and inclusive environment,â says Chen. âWhen children learn to respect and honor different cultures, they will serve our society better as responsible and loving adults. “
The Chinese School of South Jersey’s celebration of the Chinese New Year is its biggest event of the year. It offers performances by the students, including lion dance, song, dance, poetry reading, skits and storytelling, as well as a buffet dinner, silent auction, raffle and more Again. Chen says participating in family activities is a great way for children to learn about Chinese culture.
âChinese New Year is a colorful and festive celebration,â Chen says. “Making crafts, wall decorations and Spring Festival couplets to help celebrate the New Year are just some of the many traditional activities parents do with their children during this time.”
For those looking to attend a Chinese New Year celebration, try heading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the family-friendly Asian New Year festival on Sunday. Dance China NY will perform “The Monkey King”, a traditional Chinese folklore, and mini-tours will be offered throughout the day.
âArt is a wonderful way to teach about other cultures,â says Emily Schreiner, Zoe and Dean Pappas Curator of Education, Public Programs, for the museum. âIt’s a way of transporting children to different cultures. They learn by doing and seeing what is around them.
On mini-tours, families will discover and view Asian art, including works from China, Japan and Asia. In the Balcony Studio, artistic projects will be offered.
âChinese lanterns and dragons are special symbols during the Chinese New Year and make fun art projects for kids,â says Schreiner. “Also, since it is the year of the monkey, the kids may want to make crafts with this animal.”
At the Garden State Discovery Museum in Cherry Hill, families can drop Chinese lanterns from the Butterfly Garden during the Lunar New Year celebration at 5 p.m. today. The South Jersey Chinese School will send performers to do traditional dances at noon on Sunday. The event is part of the museum’s âPassport to Discoveryâ program, which celebrates a different country every weekend until March.
âWe enjoy these events because they open children up to different cultures that they may not be exposed to,â says Lauren Mason, director of programs and education at the Garden State Discovery Museum. âIt shows kids what other kids are doing in different countries and teaches them that while everyone is different, kids are just kids. They identify with other children in different places.
During the Lunar New Year celebration, a craft table will be available for families to build themed art projects to take home.
âMaking crafts is a fun way for kids to learn about the New Year because kids are extremely tactile learners,â says Mason. âWhen they build a device and they can see it and hold it, they get a better idea of ââan idea. They will have a better idea of ââthe culture they are learning.
Here are four fun crafts families can make at home to celebrate the Chinese New Year:
Chinese new year monkey puppet
Stationery: Three small cardboard plates
Brown construction paper
Brown, beige and pink paint
A brown paper lunch bag
Large googly eyes
Instructions: Fold a cardboard plate in half and cut out a smaller semicircle for the monkey’s mouth. Then fold another cardboard plate in half and cut it into an apple shape for the face. Paint an entire cardboard plate brown for the head, then paint the apple-shaped cutout beige for the face and paint the small circle pink on the inside of the plate. Using the beige paint again, color the exterior for the mouth. Set the pieces aside to dry.
While the paper plates are drying, cut two ears and two arms from brown construction paper. When dry, glue the beige apple shape to the monkey face and staple the inside of the folded mouth to the monkey face. Staple the monkey face to the bottom of the paper lunch bag. Glue on ears, arms and googly eyes.
– Peter Chen, Principal of the Chinese School of South Jersey
Lunar New Year Egg Carton Dragon
Stationery: Egg carton
Red and black markers
Red and orange construction paper
Red or orange streamers
black pipe cleaner
Instructions: Color the egg carton with red and black markers and sprinkle with gold glitter, then glue it around the back to make the dragon’s head. Cut long strips of red and orange construction paper and fold the pieces accordion-style. Use the pieces to make the body by gluing them to the back of the head. Glue red and orange streamers to the back of the body to make the tail and along the sides of the head. Decorate the face with the markers and glitter, and make two holes under the eyes to weave the black pipe cleaner.
– Garden State Discovery Museum
Chinese Lunar New Year Lantern
Stationery: Two sheets of red construction paper
Instructions: Decorate your construction paper with the markers, crayons and glitter. Fold the paper in half and cut along the folded side, at the height of the paper. Unfold the paper and form a cylinder, then glue the sides together. Using another sheet of construction paper, cut out a strip and glue it to the lantern to make a handle.
– Garden State Discovery Museum
Stationery: Long, thin sheet of paper
Black watercolor paint or brush pen markers
Red ink pen
Instructions: Starting at one end of the paper, use crayons, markers, paints, and glitter to tell a New Year’s story through pictures. Add words or make a short poem using neat handwriting or calligraphy. Use black watercolor paint or brush markers to mimic traditional bamboo work. Sign your name in red ink.
– Philadelphia Museum of Art