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Celebrating Lunar New Year Through Learning
Posted 2/9/23

Lunar New Year begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon, a 15-day period focused on preparing for the new year, celebrating the arrival of spring, and many festivals and parades. Students from across the Napa Valley Unified School District learned about and celebrated the Lunar New Year, read below to learn how!

According to Donaldson Way 3rd Grade Teacher Ms. Bridget Caldwell, her third-grade class enjoys learning about the holidays and cultural traditions that take place in their local community and around the world. This year, the class took an interest in Lunar New Year. Students researched and learned about Lunar New Year traditions, watched videos of the colorful and vibrant parades, and then utilized their painting and drawing skills to make fan art. Their fans included many of the designs and colors significant to various cultures, including red (which symbolizes good fortune) and gold (which is considered lucky). Ms. Caldwell shared, “My hope was for my students to have fun learning about the Lunar New Year while expressing their creativity through their fan art. I loved seeing the pride on their faces when they completed their beautiful fans.” 

The education and fun did not stop there. Canyon Oaks Principal Stephanie Vasquez was pleased to see her 5th-grade teachers and students learning about Lunar New Year. Fifth Grade Teacher Mrs. Slavin welcomed NVUSD Trustee Lisa Chu to her class. There, Trustee Chu shared information about the Chinese traditions and activities of the last day of the 15-day Chinese New Year celebration (Spring Festival), which is called the Lantern Festival. Trustee Chu shared, "This day falls on the first full moon of the new year. As a community, we pay tribute to our ancestors by decorating the town with lanterns, enjoying traditional Chinese foods, and enjoying the beauty of the lanterns lit up at night. Many children will make their own lanterns to contribute to the decorations and celebrations. The students were surprised to learn that Lunar New Year traditions differ depending on the Asian culture. In the Chinese zodiac, 2023 is the year of the rabbit while in the Vietnamese culture, it is the cat."

The Canyon Oaks 5th grade students made their own lanterns in the shape of a rabbit that was drawn by her son, one of their classmates, in honor of the Year of the Rabbit. When asked for an important takeaway, Trustee Chu shared, "One important takeaway I wish the student to have is there will likely be some unexpected and oftentimes fun surprises if we continue to be curious about cultures beyond our own."

Students in Ms. Meyer-Houston’s 5th-grade class also got into the spirit as they learned about and then constructed lanterns. Ms. Murphy-Crane at Snow Elementary School also enjoyed teaching her students about this special tradition using the TeachTown Encore curriculum. Together Ms. Murphy-Crane and her K/1 students read a newsletter with accompanying pictures, learned about the phases of the moon, and then did an activity where students cut out the different moon phases and matched them on a moon chart. According to Ms. Murphy, “We learned about the 15-day celebration and how powerful the color red is in the Chinese culture. We made red fans and red lanterns to celebrate. We also did an assignment where we learned about the different qualities of the rabbit (for the year of the rabbit) and then chose which of the qualities best described us.” 

A common theme to each of these Lunar New Year activities was an appreciation for each student, staff member, and visitor, and for the richness each individual's experience and culture brings to the learning of all at NVUSD!