Sunday, January 5, 2014

Music Literacy Activities for Chinese New Year

Happy New Year! I hope your holidays have been joyful and rejuvenating. Mine were wonderful and filled with family fun. And now it's back to work for me... At least I'm passionate about what I do! : )

I am excited about some music activities related to Chinese New Year and the Chinese Zodiac, which I'll be doing in January and February. I have recently completed a packet of music literacy activities for Chinese New Year and two related, educational games for classroom projection or computer center. 

Chinese New Year begins on January 31, this year (2014) and continues through February 14th. (It always begins on the second new moon/no moon after Winter Solstice.) This holiday inspires many cultural and musical connections. Here are a few integration ideas and a printable music activity freebie (grayscale option and more links below):

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important holiday in the Chinese calendar. In China, people take time off work (sometimes several weeks) to get ready for and celebrate the New Year. Chinese New Year is also called "Spring Festival' because people are preparing to say goodbye to winter and greet the 'new' year (spring).  These are some things people do to celebrate Chinese New Year:
     Have family reunion feasts

     Decorate with poems on red paper
     Give money in red envelopes
     Shoot off or watch fireworks (to scare away evil spirits)
     Wear red clothing 

          (Red represents fire which can keep bad luck away.)
     Clean their houses to sweep away any bad fortune and make room

          for good luck
     Participate in the Lantern Festival (On the 15th day, people hang

          lanterns in temples and carry them to an evening parade.)
     Participate in a Dragon Dance or parade (This is the highlight of

          the Lantern Festival on the 15th day. Long dragons made of paper,
          silk, and bamboo are held in the air by a line of dancing young men
          who wind through the streets of the town.)

Consider which of these activities could be adapted and added to enhance students' enjoyment and understanding, e.g. wear red clothing, clean the classroom, create poems or red paper, create and decorate paper lanterns, or create a long paper dragon and a dragon dance. 
Have children move/dance to recorded music such as "Dragon Dance" by Heritage Dragon, "Dragon Dance – Festival Celebration" by Hanshin Chinese Folk and Dance Ensemble, or Ballad of Four Seasons by Hanshin Chinese Folk Ensemble.

Here's a link to an excellent post about Chinese New Year music:

When I found some darling Chinese Zodiac clip art on Etsy by ElsyDesign, I was inspired to get busy and update my oldie-but-goodie ideas as well as create some new digital and printable materials. 

Here's a link to a simple but very useful FREEBIE printable, which you can use to create rhythm patterns based on the syllables of the Chinese Zodiac animals. This will help your students practice simple rhythms (ta, ti-ti, rest combinations) while making cultural and calendar connections. Print, cut, and put in envelopes to create center activities such as (1) syllabic rhythm sorting and (2) measure-making, or (3) give one card to each student and have students form groups of four to create and perform measures of rhythm. 

Chinese Zodiac Rhythm Cards - Freebie on TPT
Pentatonic Memory Game using the Chinese Zodiac

These syllabic-rhythm cards are a natural and engaging extension for my Chinese New Year Measure-Maker:
Chinese New Year Measure Maker
The rhythm cards are a sample page from my 32-page set of Music Literacy Activities to Celebrate Chinese New Year. In this set, I include a variety of eye-catching printables with instructions for whole-class and center games/ activities, additional resources and suggested curriculum connections.
Music Literacy Acitivites to Celebrate Chinese New Year
 I have also created a great game for projection or computer center with the Chinese Zodiac/New Year theme, which includes sound clips of the melody patterns:  

Happy New Year, and happy Chinese New Year!

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