–by Marnie Augello–

Talking about the Chinese New Year was an activity that every KG1 student had an easy time doing, and the students shared a true connection of experiences. Some of their observations were through students who have visited China, have ancestry from China, or have moved from China to Thailand. These experiences were welcomed, honored, and brought to life through storytelling, an author study, and integrating discussions about traditions into our units of inquiry.

Every student was excited to talk about the dragons, lions, fireworks, and lanterns they themselves have experienced and witnessed during Chinese New Year celebrations. So as part of our science unit “Forces: Pushes and Pulls” we made craft lanterns and experimented with the depth and transformation of every push and pull that could happen to these paper creations.

And while dragons are always a hot topic in storytelling, the KG1 students intentionally chose to write a Chinese New Year story with three dragons as their main characters. It was through our Author Study of Grace Lin that the students were able to come up with an ending; they realized that the lonely yellow dragon we kept talking about was probably the New Year’s dragon waiting to be brought in.

Finally, what is a learning process without a celebration and presentation of learning? So we put on a show! We put on three theatrical performances and invited parents and classes from PreK 2–grade 5 to attend. Theater performances allow for a voice that honors the actions and thoughts of the whole class, even those who don’t speak the language or those who don’t feel comfortable participating in large-group discussions. Performances especially allow for a space to explore roles and personas that students might not otherwise feel comfortable using unless on stage.