Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) Preschool Craft: Firework Crayon Resist Painting

Probably the most famous aspect of the Chinese New Year celebrations is the fireworks associated with this holiday. However, before living in China, we could never have imagined just how many fireworks there would actually be.

For about a month around the holiday, people buy and set off fireworks all the time. The night of the new year, fireworks go off most of the night, with a huge explosion right at midnight.

We like to watch the fireworks from afar, but also did some firework crafts for my firework loving boys. This way we can enjoy them longer and more safely.
We've also done this activity around 4th of July, because that is when Fireworks are popular in America.

Chinese New Year or 4th of July Preschool Craft: Firework Crayon Resist Painting

  • Paper
  • Crayons
  • Black or dark blue watercolors
  1. Firmly color fireworks with crayons. Use some white and/or light colors for the most dramatic effects of the fireworks appearing.
  2. Paint over the fireworks with dark watercolors and watch as the crayon fireworks resist the paint and stand out against the night sky you painted.

This craft is from the Chinese New Year Activity Book. Enjoy this free downlaodale ebook for more Chinese New Year Activities Crafts, and Recipes.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mandarin Mondays: Convenient Line (The Chinglish Files)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

{Free} Chinese New Year Activity Book: 20+ Activities, Crafts, and Recipes to Celebrate China's Biggest Holiday

As an American who moved to China as an adult not really knowing what Chinese New Year (which we found out is actually called Spring Festival in China) was all about, I'm always looking for fun and exciting ways to teach my kids more about this holiday.

This year I have put together an ebook with over 20 activities, crafts, and recipes to teach children about China's biggest holiday.The Chinese New Year Activity Book contains a bit of background information on the holiday and a collection of blog posts to walk you through fun learning activities and delicious recipes.

This ebook is completely free for you to download and contains some of my most popular posts (including the Chinese New Year Firecracker Decorations) and some that haven't been released yet (such as the Chinese Almond Cookie Recipe and Chinese New Year Lanterns).

Download the Chinese New Year Activity Book here.

I hope that you enjoy learning about Chinese culture and celebrating in your own way.

Happy New Year! (Xīnnián Kuàilè!, 新年快乐!)


Friday, January 17, 2014

Groundhog Holiday Preschool Activity: Edible Chocolate Groundhogs

I mentioned in passing last year that I decided at the last minute (actually about 7 pm that evening) to celebrate Groundhog Day with learning activities for my kids. But obviously I didn't get around to posting this activity in time for anyone else to try it last year, so I'll post it now.

This activity is great because it combines a craft like project and a treat.

Basically I mixed up a small batch of edible chocolate play dough and after we had watch a few videos and read some things about groundhogs and Groundhog Day I told them I had something special for them to do. I gave them each some chocolate play dough and told them to make the best groundhog they could and then after I had seen it they could eat it!

They loved this fun activity and it was a great way to complete this very simple holiday for little kids!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) Preschool Craft: Door Decorations

Another set of decorations that we made last year were these Chinese New Year Door Decorations. Traditionally, Chinese people hang red decorations on their doors at the New Year festival to scare away evil spirits and invite good luck into their homes. The center square decoration is often even hung upside down for even more good luck.

We don't believe that these decorations are going to bring us good luck, and we didn't even hang them on our door, but they are pretty and good practice for writing Chinese characters. We also used this opportunity to talk with our children about fake luck and true blessing.

 Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) Preschool Craft: Door Decorations

  • Red Paper
  • Markers
  • Glue and glitter or glitter-glue if desired
  1.  Cut red paper in a square for the center and strips for the sides and top of the door frame.
  2. Write Chinese characters or decorate as desired. We wrote happy new year (新年好,Xīnnián hǎo) on the strips for the top and sides and blessing, although this can also mean lucky, (福,fú) in the center square. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

DIY Cake Mix Cookies

Ironically, I got this recipe for cake mix cookies from one of my grandmothers. Not quite the from scratch recipes from her childhood, but she used it a lot when she wanted to make cookies, but didn't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

This recipe is great to have if you need to take cookies somewhere in a hurry, and it is extremely easy and versatile. Change out the type of cake mix and additions for endless possibilities. Make bit size, giant, or bars (pan cookies) and just adjust the baking time.

This is also a great first recipe for kids who could safely be trusted with the oven to make on their own.

Homemade Cake Mix Cookies

  • 1 cake mix OR the following dry ingredients from homemade cake mix
      • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
      • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
      • 1 Tbsp powder
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (for  chocolate cookies only obviously)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Up to 1 1/2 cup additions (chocolate chips, M&Ms, raisins, nuts, etc.)
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well combined.
  2. Place on prepared pan and bake at 350F (bake 8-12 minutes for average size cookies, 20-25 minutes for brownies or bars).
  3. Enjoy your really easy cookies!
Makes 2-3 dozen average size cookies, or 1 9x13 pan brownies or bars (pan cookies).

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) Preschool Craft: Hanging Fish

The New Year has already begun according to the Gregorian calendar, but Chinese New Year won't be until January 31st this year, since the traditional Chinese holidays still follow their solar-lunar calendar. Everyone here is gearing up for Spring Festival, their biggest holiday of the year.

Last year as part of our study and celebration of Chinese New Year, we made a bunch of the decorations that are commonly used over here for the most important Chinese holiday.

Because all of their decorations are associated with bringing in good luck or keeping out bad luck, we didn't display them in the front of our house, but used this as an opportunity to talk about how these decorations can't actually help anyone.

The decorations are pretty and if you are wanting to learn more about Chinese culture and their Spring festival this is a fun way to introduce the topic for young children.

Fish are a symbol of plenty and prosperity for the new year. At spring festival time fish is commonly served at family gatherings and fish decorations are commonly seen every year, regardless of the zodiac animal.

These cute little fish won't bring you prosperity, but might liven up a room for a Chinese New Year celebration.

Chinese New Year Fish

  • Red paper
  • Pencil
  • Pen or markers for decorating the fish
  • Glue and glitter or glitter glue if desired
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Stapler and staples (or some other way to attach the fish to the strings)
  1. Trace an outline of fish on your red paper. I did a profile view of the fish with a flat bottom, and hung them in pairs, because that is pretty similar to the standard fish decorations here.
  2. Cut out or have your preschooler cut out the fish.
  3.  Decorate the fish. We wrote the Chinese symbol for fish (鱼, pronounced Yú) because I am always looking for fun ways to practice writing characters. You could also write happy new year (新年好,Xīnnián hǎo if you wanted. Or just decorate the fish in some other way. We also did a little bit of gold glitter, because glitter is pretty and fun.
  4. Cut a length of string.
  5. Staple or otherwise attach the fish to the string. Punching holes and stringing them fish could also be a good fine motor activity.

Friday, January 3, 2014

DIY Cake Mix

I know in America you can sometimes buy cake mixes really inexpensively, so this might not be a money saving recipe for everyone. However, it can be really useful to know the ingredients in a basic cake mix, in case you need to make a cake quickly and don't have a mix on hand.

You can make mixes ahead of time and store the dry ingredients in a zip-top plastic bag in the pantry or freezer, or you can just use the recipe to make a from scratch cake similar in taste and texture to a cake mix.

For us, since we can't get a cake mix for less than about $3.50-$4.00 USD, this is a huge money saver. I use these recipes all the time for these basic cakes and other recipes that call for a standard cake mix. This recipe makes about the same as a standard cake mix (1 9x13 rectangle, 2 8-9in circle layers, or 24 cupcakes) and of course baking time will vary according to the size of your pan(s).

Homemade Cake Mix Recipe

Start by adding:
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (for a chocolate cake only obviously)
 Now you have a choice of adding these now or later:
  • 1/2 cup shortening cut into dry ingredients like for pie crust (or you can add shortening, butter, or oil when you are making the cake)
  • 1/3 cup powdered milk so you just have to add 1 scant cup water later (or you can just add 1 cup milk later) *
 When you are ready to make the cake you have to add
  • 3 eggs (or egg whites for white cake)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Place dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl
  3. Add your choice of fat and milk if you haven't done so already. (Add water now if you have already mixed in milk powder).
  4. Beat in eggs (or egg whites) and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
  5. Pour into greased pan(s) and bake (30-35 minutes for 9x13 rectangle,25-30 minutes for 8-9 inch circles, or 18-24 minutes for cupcakes).
*If I am using this cake mix for another recipe that simply calls for cake mix, I don't add the milk powder or any milk, unless the new recipe calls for it and never noticed a difference.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...