The fifth graders have been working on a weaving project that uses corrugated cardboard as a loom. They took small blocks of cardboard and created a pattern that involved planning interesting shapes. After painting and constructing the loom, they used thread to create the warp and then used brightly colored yarn to weave with. Finally, they designed a background for their projects by weaving two pieces of painted paper together. It was a wonderfully mindful introduction to complex weaving patterns and a great lesson in the importance of planning and following procedures.
Fifth grade recently explored what it takes to create an animation out of single images. In order to have a deeper appreciation of the end result of our work, we first explored cartoons that were created by hand, with single images put together and played at a speed where the images came to life. This project took time and patience as it required many copies of images, sometimes as many as 25 in order to get the image to move and tell a story. The students enjoyed the project and will be exploring more ways of creating animations in the future!
Fifth graders are in the midst of learning about Los Voladores de Papantla, a group of men that perform an indigenous dance in Mexico. We have learned that there is a lot of symbolism built into this ritual. In fact, we did the math and there are four participants that fly around a very high post a collective total of 52 times to represent the weeks in a year. The footage of these flyers evoked a lot of emotion in us! So much in fact, that we took this as an opportunity to broaden our understanding and ability to express our emotions in the target language. We discussed how we would feel before, during and after participating in such a high stakes activity. We then examined our emotions surrounding other life scenarios: the taking of a test, for example, or the watching of our favorite movie. As a follow-up activity, student actors mimed many different emotions and sensations as their classmates guessed how they were feeling. I captured the raw emotion in photographs and students were then gifted a complete set of photos from the activity. Next, they were charged with creating a collaborative poster. The finished product helps us to tune into our emotions everyday and to be honest, the photos make us laugh too!
I still can’t believe how excited grade 3 through grade 6 students are about making dumplings for the Chinese New Year assembly day lunch. One of the third grade students even told me,” I am so happy we can make dumplings. I don’t want to just sit there eating. Making dumplings is more fun!”
Here you go! From all of the photos, I am sure you feel what students have felt. Or maybe more, if you would like to talk to them and let them describe what they have just experienced. Learning by doing. It all works here!
During the practice for our special assembly, it is an absolute enjoyment and inspiration to see how fifth grade students have immersed themselves into a totally different culture and were quite excited and confident about sharing the legends of the tradition to celebrate Chinese New Year with the whole school community.
“Eight” is the lucky number in Chinese culture. Here in grade 5 Mandarin class, we happen to have eight students. The lucky number makes four pairs of students to introduce four pieces of the tradition, such as pasting greeting children posters, hanging up the fortune god, pasting the kitchen god, and the symbolic decoration of fish. I hope you will join us for today’s assembly to learn more about the legends and traditions – all the stories will be told there!
As a Mandarin teacher I am always amazed with my students’ enthusiasm for immersing themselves into culture differences while also appreciating their own culture. This year in class students did an experiment using the style of Chinese culture used to celebrate a traditional American holiday — Thanksgiving.
As the above photos have demonstrated, kindergarteners used the traditional Chinese fan to draw pictures and color the characters for Happy Thanksgiving. For the same purpose, grade 1 made their own Chinese lanterns. To my surprise during the school Thanksgiving feast, grade 1 students volunteered to bring their own lanterns to the feast to show their work to the community. With the beautiful drawing and character handwriting, grade 2 students made their holiday cards look quite unique and impressive.
Even with the traditional concept of expressing the gratitude with the heart shape, the character handwriting, craft materials and the drawing about the holiday revealed seamlessly the combination of American culture and Chinese culture in third and fourth grade student work. Grade 5 and 6 student work led the culmination of the combination of two cultures with their impressive handwriting and drawing on the small gourds.
This experiment turned out to be a quite pleasant experience for students to celebrate their traditional holiday. It has also boosted student interest and curiosity to explore more. Two weeks later, I received the request from most of my classes, “ Zhang Laoshi, can we do something for Christmas like we did for Thanksgiving? Please. Please.” Happily enough we all realized next December in class we will be busy with another holiday 圣诞节 (sheng dan jie, Christmas). Merry Christmas, everybody!