3 Easy-Setup Toddler Activities for Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year is here again! And if you didn’t know, it’s on January 25, 2020. So what do you need to celebrate this Lunar New Year event? Not much, actually. Just some food, friends, family, games and hong bao! And though I can’t control the friends and family for you, I can help give some suggestions for the other areas.

In this post I’ll offer three easy and so inexpensive activity ideas that you can do, along with resources I’ve made myself for a couple of them!

NOTE: any purchases are made through PayPal and the download will arrive in your email within a day.

Chinese Food

There are so many delicious chinese foods! The most popular for celebrating Chinese New Year is dumplings, according to my VIPKID students! But of course, it depends on what region of China you find yourself. The most important thing is just to feast with family in the spirit of moving forward into a new, prosperous year.

My 2-year-old son’s favorite Chinese food at the moment is egg rolls, and so that is what we will be eating this weekend alongside some homemade orange chicken!

When it comes to fried food, I have a strict perimeter the kids have to maintain in the kitchen so that nobody gets hurt. But leading up to the frying part, egg rolls are a super fun and the easiest food for little hands to practice folding and wrapping! It’s seriously such a simple side dish! Maybe I’m late to this knowledge, but here’s a tip from our favorite way to make egg rolls – use some broccoli slaw instead of normal coleslaw! YUM!


The Chinese Zodiac

Legend tells of a time long ago when a loud fight broke out among the animals over what to call each of the years. To solve the problem, the Jade Emperor of Heaven commanded each animal to race for a position to have the years named after them. The first twelve animals to cross the finish line would be given the honor of having a year named after them.

This year, 2020, is the year of the rat, which happens to also mark the beginning of another zodiac cycle! Spoiler Alert: the rat wins in the traditional great animal race story. And though this game I’ve created is skewed to help the clever rat win, it’s not a guarantee.

In this fun game, learn about the 12 animals that won the race, what characteristics helped them win, and then lead your own race to see who wins in a rematch! Purchase it here and receive to have it emailed directly to your inbox!

The Great Animal Race Game

Playing board, 12 animal pieces, spinner, game rules, and a short version of the great race story to read! (a total of 5 pages) This is all so easy to print and put together that makes for a lot of fun! Ages 3+

$3.00


Hong Bao

Hong = red , bao = package. More than any other tradition, this is what my Chinese students show off to me after their month-long New Year vacation. The red package that comes stuffed with money from moms, dads, grandparents, and even aunts and uncles. It represents good fortune for the upcoming year, as most red things do in the Chinese culture.

An example of hong bao that is so easy to do at home!

You can purchase this fun printable I made to be emailed to you to make your own hong bao and surprise your children this weekend!

Hong Bao

Just print, cut, fold, glue, and then stuff your hong bao with notes of love and/or money! Three different styles vary from somewhat traditional to a fun one for the year of the rat.

$1.00

If you want to learn more about Chinese New Year, its legends and traditions, then check out this post from last year: C is for China Celebrates!

Celebrating MultiCultural Calendars and Why They Put Us Ahead of Our Time

This year I have made it my goal to discover as many holidays from as many cultures as possible around the world, and on each holiday to learn something about the people that celebrate it. As I go through the holidays, I will be sharing what I learn on social media and giving ideas and activities for some of the holidays that you might do at home.

It’s impossible to learn everything about a culture in a year, or even a lifetime, even if its a culture you’re immersed in. But my belief is that all the most beautiful parts of any given culture come out in plain sight on holidays. The food, clothes, music, poetry, dances, and all everything else puts on its best and brightest form when we gather to celebrate. So by learning something about the people who celebrate all the different kinds of holidays throughout the year, I hope to get a better idea of the world we live in. I hope that you’ll join me in this journey and follow along with my Multicultural Holiday calendar as I share some of the things I learn. I’ll also be sure to share about any celebrations I try to take part in, especially those that are new to me.


The 2020 Multicultural Holidays Calendar

Note: The calendar has been updated to have black text for each holiday on the calendar so its easy to read!

This fun, interactive 12-month calendar celebrates a different country each month of the year. Each page includes

– 12 pictures to color in of a culturally significant landmark in

– fast facts about 1 of 11 different countries (France gets two shout outs with the Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower)

– a place to make notes of facts you learn about holidays in each month

The 11 places are Russia, China, India, Easter Island, Mexico, France, the USA, Australia, Cambodia, Romania, Egypt, and France again.

Each month has at least 9 holidays listed. These holidays might be:

– Religious (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, etc)

– National (South Africa, the USA, Ethiopia, Egypt, etc)

– Famous People’s Birthdays

– Historically Significant Events

– Dates of Scientific Breakthroughs

QR codes are also provided if you wish to learn more about each of the holidays throughout the year by following my instagram or blog, where I will share more details and even some celebratory ideas for every holiday listed in this calendar this year.

2020 Multicultural Holidays Around the World Calendar

This 26-page download includes 14 printable calendar pages (a cover page and an instruction page with QR codes plus the 12 months), as well as the 12 full-page versions of the hand-drawn landmarks to color.

$7.00

January 2020 Multicultural Holidays Printable

Celebrate Holidays from around the world this month including Tai Pongal, Chinese New Year, MLK Day, Holocaust Day and more! This printable comes with the January calendar, an 8x11 coloring page of St Basil's Cathedral, and the QRcodes to follow along as I share what I learn about each holiday!

$0.75

February 2020 Multicultural Holidays Printable

Celebrate Holidays from around the world this month including Tu B'shevat, Kawhia Kai Festival, Magha Puja Day and more! This printable comes with the February calendar, an 8x11 coloring page of The Great Wall of China, and the QRcodes to follow along as I share what I learn about each holiday!

$0.75

All About Jewish Tzedakah Boxes

If you aren’t subscribing to the PJLibrary for free books yet, then here’s my unsponsored plug: GO DO IT. I seriously can’t say enough good things about PJLibrary.

Usually you get a free book in the mail every month as a subscriber, and sometimes you get little activities and CDs. This month they sent everyone these ADORABLE tzedakah boxes! Let me tell you what I’ve learned about them.

Tzedkah

In Hebrew “צדקה” means “justice” or “righteousness”. It also puts a heavy amount of importance on charity. Interesting how those things all go together, right?

Mitzvah

Another word that you might commonly see associated with tzedekah is “mitzvah”, which is the Hebrew term for commandments and other good deeds as required by Jewish law or doctrine. So what is a “bar mitzvah”? Its a religious ceremony in which a boy becomes a man by covenanting to keep the commandments, or become a son of the commandments. Who knew!? (Well, a lot of people, probably. But I didn’t!)

Tanakh

One more word for you – “Tanakh”, or the whole collection of Hebrew scripture, similar to, but not exactly the same, as the Old Testament. It is comprised of :

  1. the Torah (or the first five books of OT from Moses), which people often mistakenly use to name any Hebrew scripture in general. This is certainly the one name I’m most familiar with.
  2. the Nevi’im, or the Prophets

What does the Tanakh teach about the tzedakah mitzvah?

Photo by Tanner Mardis on Unsplash

Usually in the Tanakh, “tzedekah” refers to displays of justice, such as this Jewish law laid out in Duetoronomy:

Every seventh year you shall practice remission of debts. This shall be the nature of the remission: every creditor shall remit the due that he claims from his fellow; he shall not dun his fellow or kinsman, for the remission proclaimed is of the LORD. You may dun the foreigner; but you must remit whatever is due you from your kinsmen. There shall be no needy among you—since the LORD your God will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you as a hereditary portion— if only you heed the LORD your God and take care to keep all this Instruction that I enjoin upon you this day. For the LORD your God will bless you as He has promised you: you will extend loans to many nations, but require none yourself; you will dominate many nations, but they will not dominate you. If, however, there is a needy person among you, one of your kinsmen in any of your settlements in the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman. Rather, you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs. 

-Deuteronomy 15

But, the first rule of the Hebrew written language is to not use vowels. Which makes this next verse in Daniel 4:24 interesting, because the consonants are the same (tz-d-k) but the word here is “tzidak” and is one of few places where the Tanakh focuses on charity to the poor.

Therefore, O king, may my advice be acceptable to you: Redeem your sins by beneficence and your iniquities by generosity to the poor; then your serenity may be extended.

Daniel 4:24

Enter the Tzedakah Box

I would think that anywhere in the world you go, people (especially children) stash their cash and coins in piggy banks, jars and boxes of every shape and size. The tzedekah box is something of the same! Except that instead of hoarding up change for themself, Jewish families collect the spare money to be able to help someone else in need. It doesn’t have to be just money though. It could be clothes, toys, food, or any other donation. How great is that! And what a sweet practice for children to get excited about service!

In the second book of Melchim (or Kings), we learn of a biblical example where a tzedekah box was placed in the temple to help with necessary building repairs on the Holy Temple itself.

And Jehoiada the priest took one chest and bored a hole in its door; and he placed it near the altar on the right, where a person enters the house of the Lord: and the priests, the guards of the threshold, would put all the money that was brought into the house of the Lord, into there.

Melachim II 12:10

It’s a tradition that’s been around clearly since Biblical times and is supported by teachings in the Tanakh to not turn away beggars empty-handed.

So, how’s that for a crash course in a piece of Jewish doctrine and tradition. And what a better time than the winter holidays to teach your children a lesson about this people with a culture of giving and end it with a service activity?!

Photo by Kat Yukawa on Unsplash

Ways to implement tzedekah in your family

  • Make your own tzedekah box and start collecting coins
  • Fill up a box or bag of toys or clothes to donate to someone in need
  • Make a habit of taking coins with you this season for your children to give to the Santa’s and Red Cross collections at local shopping centers
  • Put a box of water, granola bars and other good foods in your car to give to homeless people you see at public places that are safe to stop

To learn more, visit:

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/tzedakah-101/

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/390485/jewish/A-History-of-the-Charity-Box.htm

https://pjlibrary.org/beyond-books/pj-library-tzedakah-project