Chinese New Year

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Chinese New Year is celebrated to welcome in the Chinese spring. Legend has it that a monster slept throughout the year, but arose on the new year day to consume large amounts of food. The people discovered that the monster was afraid of bright lights, loud noises, and the color red. Thus, the Chinese New Year traditions of lighting lanterns, setting off firecrackers, and wearing the color red were begun.

The Chinese calendar is lunar, based on the phases of the moon. Every year is symbolized by one of twelve animals. This New Year is the Year of the Goat. Chinese New Year in 2015 begins at the new moon on February 19th and ends with the full moon on March 6th.

As Christians, we should be cautious of propagating unscriptural practices, such as astrology, focus on monetary wealth, gambling with mah-jong, pleasing “gods”, and other superstitious practices. Here are some fun ideas that are not unscriptural.

Spring Cleaning

Ok, maybe this one isn’t so fun, and unless you are actually in China, it isn’t quite spring yet. Spring cleaning is symbolic of fresh starts and new beginnings. Why not focus on an internal cleaning, referring to this verse:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

Family Reunion Dinner

During the Chinese New Year, families visit together and exchange gifts such as oranges. A reunion dinner is prepared, fish being a must on the menu. Chinese tradition has it that some fish must be left on the plate. Does this remind your child of another meal of fish?

“He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.” Mark 6:37-44

Becoming New

As in America, a New Year is a time to reflect on ways to improve ourselves, and set our minds and hearts to making these changes. Encourage your children to “become new”.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Refrain from Fighting

It is a Chinese tradition to start out the New Year without any arguments or bickering. Refraining from fighting for the 15 day New Years celebration will establish a good habit for the rest of the year. Inspire your children:

“Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (HCSB)

Lanterns

Remember the monster that was afraid of light? You can make and decorate your house with Paper Lanterns, reminding your children that everything dark and evil is exposed by light.

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Wear Red

While the Chinese wear red to scare off the mythical monster, red symbolizes something very real to Christians:

“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” Colossians 1:12-14

Learn About China

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Download and complete a FREE China Lapbook from Homeschool Share.

Learn About Goats

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Download and complete a FREE Goat Lapbook from Homeschool Share.

Share

Pick a picture book or two about Chinese culture to share with your young children.

9780439318327

Round is a Mooncake Free Unit Study

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The Empty Pot Free Unit Study and Lapbook

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Love as Strong as Ginger Free Unit Study

9780399236181

Daisy Comes Home Free Unit Study

Pray

As you learn about Chinese New Year, why not pray for our oppressed brothers and sisters in Christ, living in China. You can read about Christians in China HERE.

Enjoy your Chinese New Year,

Homeschool Share style!

A Christmas Tree in the White House

If you asked your kids what they think it would be like to spend Christmas in the White House, they would probably envision parties, gifts, and huge, decorated Christmas trees. This may be how things are done now, but back in Theodore Roosevelt’s day, things were very different, as they will learn from A Christmas Tree in the White House.

Gary Hines tells the story of how Teddy Roosevelt decrees that because cutting down trees goes against his conservationist views, there will be no Christmas tree in the White House. Roosevelt’s six children are understandably upset that their traditions are being changed and the youngest two make a plan to have some kind of tree for Christmas at the White House. With the help of their Aunt Anna—and using skills their father taught them in a previous game–the boys sneak a tiny tree into the White House and are able to keep it hidden for a while. When their father discovers it, though, he takes them to visit his friend and chief forester, Gifford Pinchot. To Roosevelt’s surprise, though, Pinchot tells the boys that cutting down some small trees can actually be beneficial because it gives the other trees more room and sunlight, so he allows the boys to keep the tree.

At the end of the story Hines includes some biographical information about Theodore Roosevelt as well as his children to provide some context to the story. Without knowing that the entire family enjoyed rambunctious play and crazy antics, this may seem like a tale of rebellion being excused or rewarded, but when you read more about them, you realize that this was the way they interacted. Even though the children did sneak the tree in, I don’t think this is a book that’s going to encourage your children to rebel! Hines also reveals what we know is true about this story and what details have been changed or added.

This is not your typical Christmas book, but your children will enjoy it.  The children’s efforts to hide the tree are amusing and you wonder how they think they’re going to pull this all off–and how is the president going to react?  You may also learn a bit of science as the chief forester tells the Roosevelts about why it’s okay to cut down some trees.

Alexandra Wallner’s charming illustrations are a great accompaniment to the story. They are simple and colorful and draw you into the story without distracting from it. If you enjoy this book, you may want to look into the other books on historical figures that she has written and illustrated.

When you see all the photos and news stories about Christmas in our nation’s capital this year, take some time to pull out A Christmas Tree in the White House and learn about a time two little boys worked to bring a little tree home to the White House.

Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution

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We’ve all heard the stories here and there of women and their roles in fighting for our country’s independence, but many of these stories are apocryphal at best and some are almost certainly untrue. Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution sets the record straight on the many—and true—accomplishments of women during the Revolution.

Laurie Halse Anderson has compiled numerous true stories of how women helped win the war, from acting as spies to actually joining the army. Each page has conversational text that is engaging even for reluctant readers. There are also comic book-style illustrations with text boxes telling about specific ladies and their exploits. At the bottom of each page is a timeline combining major events from the Revolution with deeds from those daring dames. The book is geared toward elementary students (and I would use it with older kids, too, due to the sheer amount of information), but even adults are going to learn something new.

At the end of the book, Anderson includes even more information with sections on even more women, details about whether some of those stories we’ve heard are true or not, and background on the different groups in the country at the time. If that’s not enough, there is a lengthy bibliography for those who want to learn more and there are web resources listed, too.

Independent Dames is a book that proves that women didn’t sit back and let the men do all the hard work and that history is definitely not boring!

April Fools Day…for the kids

Do you have a little fun with your kids for April Fool’s Day?? Here are a few ideas to get you started…April Fools Day is on a Monday this year! Just a few days to get your pranks, or uh, plans in order! 

I love this idea!! Your kids will be delighted to open the fridge!

All the food and drinks will be looking right back at them!

I have also seen this idea, around the web, to just put googly eyes all over the house!

 

 Several fun food ideas to get your day started off with a little fun found here!

Ideas include:

  • the sliced banana trick
  • the shrunken cinnamon roll
  • the milk prank
  • the egg surprise

I just love this next idea and think I would be laughing all day about it…

I found the idea to change out all your kids clothes to SMALLER clothes in their drawers for April fools.

(I could see this being a lot of work, but maybe just the shirt drawer?)

I still think it would be pretty funny!

Idea found here. (more great ideas in that post, too!)

Ok, so let’s hear from you!!

What are your favorite pranks to have with your kids??