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Chinese New Year Dragon Parade

Celebrating Chinese New Year in kindergarten. From mamasmiles.com

One of the things I loved about growing up moving around the world was that I was able to learn about countries and cultures different from my own. My kids have not had a lot of opportunity to travel the world (yet, at least), but Silicon Valley is home to an incredibly multicultural community! Johnny’s kindergarten class’s Chinese New Year dragon parade is an excellent example of how this diversity is celebrated!

Kindergarten dragon parade for Chinese New Year. From mamasmiles.com

Johnny’s kindergarten teacher is incredible. She had 22 kindergarten students calmly decorating gingerbread houses before Christmas, and last week she had them outfitted as dragons, each taking a turn carrying the dragon head in their Chinese New Year Dragon Parade. Johnny was so proud when it was his turn!

taking turns leading the dragon parade for Chinese New Year. From mamasmiles.com

The kids got to keep their costumes. Emma has been wearing Johnny’s all weekend, and they have been pretending that she is a dragon! The dragon head gets re-used every year, and it is very ornate! I especially loved the CD scales!

Old CDs create scales for a dragon head that is part of a Chinese New Year Dragon Parade

My favorite part of this event was seeing how the older kids in the school reacted to the kindergarteners’ parade! They all came out of their classrooms to watch, and cheered and clapped. Such appreciation for the event, and for these young students!

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There were all sorts of exciting Chinese New Year activities linked up last week – check them out:

My favorite non-Chinese New Year craft was this Rainbow Loom Upcycling project from Green Issues by Agy. Use your rainbow loom to weave an old t-shirt into something new. So cool!

What fun and learning has your family enjoyed?

MaryAnne lives is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

37 thoughts on “Chinese New Year Dragon Parade”

  1. Happy Chinese New Year! That’s awesome his class celebrated this occasion. And yes he looks so proud and happy in your photos :)

  2. That sounds like a lot of fun, for the kids. But come on, people, we live in America. I think that today’s kids are not learning enough about our own culture and heritage in the public schools. I understand that America is a melting pot full of different cultures, blah, blah. But US children are missing out on what is important, what being an American is. It is sad in my opinion. But I am sure your kid had a lot of fun.

    1. A lot of Californian Americans especially trace their heritage back to China. They have been US citizens for generations, but their ancestors came from China just as mine came from several countries in Western and Eastern Europe. This is US History – along with the big Thanksgiving feast his class had in November and the Europe-influenced gingerbread decorating they enjoyed in December.

    2. Hi Cascia,
      How exactly would you define “our own culture?” Do mean a strictly European one? In California, Caucasians are not the majority. In fact, 42.3% are Caucasian in California which is very close to Latino/Hispanic at 37.6%. Asians make up 14.9% of all Californians. So if you combine just the Latino’s and Asians alone, they are more than Caucasians.

      And this demographic continues to move towards more mixed race diversity.

      I think it promotes greater understanding and tolerance to learn about other cultures and that is one great reason to learn about other cultures at school (and elsewhere).

      I’d love to learn more about your America … where multiculturalism is, apparently, not appreciated. It’s interesting that your school is teaching this more narrow view of the world.

    3. I think one of the best ways to improve our children’s chances at success in the world, as well as to improve empathy is through activities that encourage kids to look at issues from differing perspectives. Whether you live in a large city and learn about life on a farm, or you live in a homogeneous area and learn about another culture. How are our children going to flourish in this interconnected world if we don’t learn about people outside of our community?

      In the lower levels of elementary, a lot of multicultural learning is “food, flags, and festivals” and the goal would be to slowly introduce more complex lessons such as food systems, and global water problems. We really are all connected, and teaching kids- while they are young- to respect all culture and religions will help them grow into compassionate adults that can communicate and relate across cultures.

  3. What a fun filled way to celebrate Lunar new year – your son is lucky to have such a creative, devoted teacher! I just love those costumes, but more importantly the celebration and welcoming of diversity.

  4. As a Native-American (ident) I find it a bit confusing to hear phrases like “real American” or American culture. I won’t make the old joke about if you’re not Native American, you’re not American because I have come to see how our country is now a rainbow of cultures, hopefully guided by a shared view of a common future. Woven together with respect and understanding. In my humble opinion, the only “real Americans” are those who love their country – all of it – and every one in it – all of us!

    1. I love the rainbow color reference. We just read the most fantastic new book, colors of me, that I think your would enjoy. It has a very similar message. MaryAnne, when I read your post, my heart was filled with joy that your sons teacher would go out of her way to share these experiences with your child. The costumes are absolutely beautiful and what a positive celebration it looked like, I bet the children will remember this for many years!!!,

  5. How fun!! I love these photos – Johnny looks so happy and I think it’s wonderful that his school is embracing your multicultural neighborhood and celebrating a diversity of holidays. There was definitely not enough of this when I was growing up. The costumes are adorable!

  6. I love that Johnny’s school celebrated Chinese New Year with this parade. It’s pretty sad that many children are still raised with very little understanding of world history and culture and with a misguided notion that American history and culture is somehow superior to others. I am very grateful to be living in Silicon Valley where teachers and schools are really trying to raise our children global citizens.

  7. Ha ha ha ha, I’m laughing at the storm of comments you’ve gotten today. I remember growing up in that area in California and always thinking it was the coolest thing because we had a Jewish family that came in every year and taught us about Hanukah, and one of my best friends was 2nd or 3rd generation Chinese, and so I got to see some of their traditional celebrations when I visited her house, and was always amused to take my shoes off before coming in.

    So, I think it’s a fun way to learn as you do all of these things and I agree that lion head is awesome! My original plans of celebrating Chinese New Year were behind as we had to finish up some school stuff, so instead we’re going to celebrate this Friday (shhhh, I don’t think the kids will know the difference).

  8. I LOVE all the pictures you posted and your son sure looks so happy :) I think Aarya would love to play with that dragon head too! We read Yum Yum Dim sum (book) but never got around doing any crafts. But this year, when we settle down to a better routine the first thing I want to do is get a map like you suggested and really look through it and find places and next year celebrate Chinese New Year with some crafts and little info about the country as it is our most prominent neighbor. My Dad has visited China and brought back some momentous, which I would like to share with Aarya when he has a understanding of things like these. I am excited about all the things we are going to learn next year. And I think giving children such exposure, helps them be more aware of other cultures and more accepting of differences and have a good attitude towards each one of our brothers and sisters.. We need to educate our kids to be world citizens :) And pinning this, thank you!

  9. What a lovely tribute to Chinese New Year, and a great learning experience for the children. The beauty of America as a melting pot is the many, many people with a variety of interesting backgrounds. It is nice to see the tradition of Chinese New Year, one that many Americans hold dear in their hearts, acknowledged for the children’s understanding.

  10. Our Chinese New Year celebration has a long tradition – it was tradition at the school when I arrived 18 years ago! This year our principal had some connection that allowed her to borrow an authentic dragon parade head. We put it up in the front entrance of the school. It looks amazing. I would love to sit down with your son’s teacher and learn how she makes those vests. They look amazing.

    1. That is so neat that you had an authentic dragon parade head, Sandi! I know Johnny’s teacher made the vests out of paper bags with colored tissue paper scales that I think the kids glued on.

    1. Thank you, Sherri! It’s so nice to have blog friends all over the world who will write for my world culture for kids series, too – that helps a lot!

  11. jeannine: waddlee-ah-chaa

    Okay, the gingerbread houses are an impressive project! I did it with two kiddos and it was fun but a sticky mess. What a great and patient teacher!

    The parade is a wonderful experience. Love all of the colors. Fabulous pictures!

  12. Elisa | blissfulE

    Fabulous costumes! How wonderful that each child got to hold the head at the front of the dragon. Johnny looks thrilled!!!

    I ended up walking through downtown Perth during the Chinese New Year celebrations here – I had dropped some keys that I needed to retrieve – and it was so much fun! Children were dressed up and holding their parents’ hands, listening to drums, being surprised by firecrackers, and seeing dragons dance. Before living so close to Asia I hadn’t paid much attention to lunar years, but it’s fun to hear about them and see them celebrated here. Reminds me that we haven’t always had our modern calendars, and time used to be marked simply by the sun and moon.

  13. That’s awesome! It’s so nice to see when schools educate the kids about different cultures. What an amazing teacher! I hope my daughter experiences this when she starts kindergarten!

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