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South Valley Journal

The art of Chinese New Year

Feb 23, 2022 06:03PM ● By Jet Burnham

Student creates symbols of traditional Chinese New Year greetings. (Hi-Ting Bringhurst/Southland Elementary)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Colorful dragons prowl the halls, red paper lanterns hang from the ceilings and chunlian couplets (Chinese poetry) hang on either side of the principal’s door. This is what celebrating Chinese New Year at Southland Elementary School, one of the Jordan District’s Chinese dual language immersion schools, looks like.

“To truly learn a language, learners need to understand the culture, traditions and food that influence that language,” DLI teacher Lay Kou said. “Chinese New Year is the most celebrated of all Chinese festivals, so it makes sense for students to learn about it.”

Kou and her colleagues incorporated traditional holiday activities, art projects and treats into their lessons for the 15 day holiday.

“I think it’s just so cool to learn about Chinese culture because there’s a lot of things you get to do and you have a lot of fun doing Chinese activities, learning about things other people do for fun,” a sixth-grader said.

Students learned dances and songs, and played chopstick games and Chinese yo-yo. The sixth graders had a Chinese rap battle.

The majority of the holiday activities were based on arts and crafts. Students  cut paper designs, created banners of poetry, painted pictures of flowers, and folded paper lanterns, puppets and origami to learn about the symbols of the holiday.

“Arts and crafts bring out the aesthetics in a culture,” Kou said. “They tell stories of a culture's past. They teach learners the values of that culture. In Chinese culture, art tells people what the Chinese believe, what values they treasure and practice.”

Students also learned the art of making dumplings. Some classes practiced the technique by wrapping chocolates. Others used Play-Doh. First grade teacher Li Xu helped her students practice pronunciation as they learned the steps to make dumplings, with dough pinched around pom-pom balls instead of a messy filling.