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February 14, 2010 is the Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year. You can teach your child about this holiday and learn a little about Asia. In China, children receive bright red envelopes filled with money from their relatives. In Korea, children bow to their elders and receive a blessing for the future and money. This holiday is huge like Christmas time is in the United States. People have several days off work. Here are a couple of activities I wrote for education.com that you could do with your child.

Chopstick Math http://www.education.com/activity/article/chopstick-math-chinese-year/

Chinese Lantern http://www.education.com/activity/article/chinese-year-lanterns/

Gung, Hay, Fat, Choy! or Happy Chinese New Year!  or Say Hay Boke Mani Paduh sayo! Happy New Year in Korean.

Product DetailsBook Review:  Where Teddy Bears Come From                  
           by Mark Burgess, published by Peachtree 2009

Again, I “fell in love” with my son’s library book this past week. A brand new library book, with shiny letters was beckoning me to read it.

Little gray wolf is having problems falling asleep. Mother tried everything–a cup of milk, reading a bedtime story over and over, but nothing worked. The next morning he sees a teddy bear in his book and decides he needs one in order to sleep. But his mother does not know where they come from. She tells him to ask Wise Owl, who sends him to the Three Little Pigs, because they KNOW about bears. They were not happy to see a “big bad wolf” and sent him to Little Red Riding Hood. As you can imagine she and her grandmother are not happy to see a “big bad wolf” either and send litle gray wolf to Goldilocks, another bear expert. On the way, he runs into an old man who has a flat tire on his truck. He needs someone to “huff and puff and blow this tire up.” So little gray wolf helps. “Ho! Ho! Ho!” says the old man. He asks gray wolf what he wants in exchange. Little gray wolf tells him his problem about not sleeping and needing a teddy bear. The old man tells him to go home, and in the morning he’ll have an answer. Little gray wolf is so excited to see his present and shouts to the forest “Now I know where teddy bears come from!”

I think this is a delightfully fun book. Of course, you must know your fairy tales in order to really understand the humor. The illustrations are comical and win the curiosity of kids (and their parents). Children will think it’s funny how the little gray wolf runs into other storybook characters, especially Santa! Perhaps, you can check out those classic fairy tales from the library to refresh your child’s memory as well. Maybe your child will want to write his own story about where his teddy bear comes from!

I remember the blustery days of my childhood in freezing Iowa winters. My brother, sister, & I had lots of snow fun–making forts, snowmen, and sledding. I want to keep the tradition alive with my kids, which is kind of difficult, when we live in Southern CA. There’s no snow except in the mountains. So usually we drive 30 minutes to Mt. Baldy to go sledding. And if the snow is just right, we make a snowman.

But for now, I’m doing snow paper activities with my preschooler son.

Paint a Snowman
Materials:  dark blue construction paper, white paint, paint brush, markers, paper cup, glitter is optional
1. First, I read a snowman book and analyzed all his components with my son.
2. I had my son paint 3 snowballs on top of each other.
3. He painted snow on the ground.
4. He painted white snowflakes in the air. (just an x with a line through the middle)
5. We let it dry.
6. Using markers, he added a carrot nose, eyes, mouth, hat, and arms. You can also add buttons or glue real buttons on.
7. Hang it on the fridge or a prominent place as you discuss the season of winter.

Make a Paper Snowflake

Materials:  scissors, pencil, white paper, a circular object to trace
1. Trace a circle on white paper. The bigger the circle, the easier it is for your child.
2. Cut the circle out.
3. Fold it in half.
4. Lay it on the table with the straight edge next to you and the round part up. Grab one end, and pull it up to the middle top. Pull the other end up so that it covers the cone-shape you made. You should have a cone-shape now.
5. With the pencil, draw shapes along the edges for your child to cut out. Have him name the shapes as he chops them off.
6. Now have him unfold the circle, and you should see a beautiful snowflake!

Book Review:  Desert Rose and Her Highfalutin Hog by Alison Jackson
Published by Walker & Co., 2009

Get ready to kick your heels while you read this fun, read-aloud Texan picture book! Rose was cleanin’ the pigs’ muck when she discovered a gold nugget. She bought the fattest pig she could find to enter the Texas State Fair. However, she took a shortcut and came across a creek. The pig would not get in the water, nor drink it. This starts a chain reaction–she asks many animals to help her such as a coldhearted coyote, a persnickety snake, a bothersome bronco, and an armdillo with an attitude. Finally, she coaxed the armadillo into helping her by rewarding it with a two hundred pound bag of bugs. Rose and her highfalutin hog win the prize at the fair.

This is a great book for retelling. Ask your child to tell you what happened first, next, which animals came next, and what happened at the end. Your child could even draw a picture about the book. This is also a fun book to read in a southern accent–make it up if you have to!

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Activities and Book Reviews