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Feb 06 2022


Grady Singleton

What do you think represents Chinese New Year? Eating dumplings? Hanging decorations? Gathering with friends and family? Perhaps all these activities symbolize this special holiday. At BCIS Early Childhood Center (ECC), curious young learners investigated these New Year symbols through a play-based approach, making connections with the festival and learning to represent their own feelings. The wonderful New Year festivities at the ECC created a magical space for students to start their lifelong learning journeys!


When asked their favorite part of the Chinese New Year festival, every student seemed to have their own answer. Two girls from our Kindergarten class, Putao and Mia, agreed that making and hanging beautiful window decorations (窗花chuānghuā) created their favorite memory. Meanwhile, Wilson from the Nursery class were most inspired by getting to eat the dumplings they made by hand themselves! These were two of the many magnificent activities centering around Lunar New Year at the ECC, and students could be seen frolicking about from one station to another, choosing to engage in whatever type of play sparked their curiosity about the festival.


The ability for our learners to choose their own form of play is an important part of the ECC's educational approach. The New Year celebrations were an exemplary demonstration of the effectiveness in allowing students to guide their own play, as everyone was able to find their own personalized way to interact with the traditional festival. Whether it was choosing their own pictures and symbols for face painting, finding the right materials for their arts and crafts, or picking their favorite fruits to make tasty tanghulu (糖葫芦) treats, students at the ECC had the chance to find their own way to express their happiness about the New Year.


Similar to choice and expression, social-emotional development is a key component of play-based learning at the ECC. At the ECC New Year celebration, students were able to work together or on their own on the holiday project of their choice. During all these activities, students were able to sit and talk with their classmates and teachers, sharing their very own New Year stories. Chinese New Year is known for vibrant reunions with friends and families, and warm and lively atmosphere (热闹rènao). Our ECC celebration was equally as exciting and energetic, creating a welcoming environment for learners to grow socially!


More than just a one-day experience, the New Year merriment at the ECC stretched over a whole unit of learning, allowing students to deeply explore this important cultural topic through play, reading, and crafts. The celebration ended with a festive bang, as students clad in beautiful red New Year's garments paraded around the school to the beat of drums, shakers, and cymbals. This enchanting moment allowed the students to explore the sounds and sights of the New Year, and even included dancing tigers to celebrate the Year of the Tiger! Such a fun learning experience will never be forgotten by our ECC students as they continue to grow. As the pair of Kindergarten girls exclaimed: "We don't want to leave for holiday, we want to stay here!"