Friday, 31 January 2014

Chinese New Year with a toddler

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! China is quite important to our family as it's the home of my brother and, therefore, Eleanor's uncle. He likes to give Eleanor gifts relating to Chinese culture, and I often talk to her about China to help her understand where it is that her uncle lives. It's very important to me that she feels he is part of her life even though she sees him very rarely.

So I try to mark Chinese New Year for her. Last year, as she was still very little, we just dressed her in a traditional Chinese outfit my mum had bought for her when she went over to visit my brother, but now she's a it older and more able to understand things, I wanted to do a bit more. Trouble is, she's still a beginner at crafts, and an internet search of CNY-related activities turned out a lot of things that I would basically have ended up doing myself with Eleanor looking on in boredom.

I did, however, see one nice idea on Pinterest - a picture of a plum blossom tree with the blossom printed on with cotton wool. Plum blossom is symbolic of winter in China, so this seemed fairly appropriate. I set Eleanor on the task with delicately printing the 'blossoms' on the paper, and ... er ...

Yeah ... not exactly the result I'd seen on Pinterest! But hey, she's two years old, what can you expect? And she had a good time 'paitin the pum bossom' so that's the main thing! I then cut out the bits of pink and stuck them around a tree trunk I drew.

Craft activity done, we spent some time chilling out and reading books about China.
The zodiac book (or 'zodizat bup' if you're Eleanor) was found at my wonderful local library after a lot of rooting around and is a lovely retelling of the legend which Eleanor has really engaged with. Her birthday present last year from her uncle was a decoration showing all the animals of the zodiac* so she liked having a story to link to the decoration. The nursery rhymes book was a first Christmas/birthday gift and comes with a CD, so we're quite familiar with it and I can even manage to sing the songs now! Eleanor even has some favourites which she'll sing along to, obviously with no sense of meaning at all but I think she understands it's another language and not just different sounds!

We finished off our Chinese adventure with stir fry for dinner - OK, not exactly imaginative, but I'm not a very good cook!! By the end of the day, Eleanor was quite excited by the whole concept - "It's Tinese New Yee-yah!" "It's the year of the horse!" "Enna born year of the rabbit!" "Mummy born year of the mouse!"** I don't know how much she really understands, but it's been a chance to have some messy fun, explore another culture through reading and singing, and just have fun!

* This decoration. She's obsessed with it. It hangs in our kitchen/diner at the moment and she spends most mealtimes naming the animals. She even fell asleep naming the animals last night!
** Two notes here. One: I know it's a rat in most stories, but in Eleanor's nursery rhyme book it's a mouse and the animal on the decoration looks like a mouse, so that's what we're going with. Also, it didn't stop with Eleanor and Mummy. I had to try and think of a person to assign for almost every animal. It was quite a challenge!

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  1. Sounds like a lovely chinese new year! I love that plum blossom tree.
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

    1. Thanks, I'm so pleased with the plum blossom tree, it looks great on the wall in our living room! Eleanor kept pointing at it saying, "Enna made a pum bossom!"