Step into the vibrant world of Astor International School, where students taking Mandarin as enrichment classes recently embarked on an exciting journey to celebrate the Lunar New Year! Dive into the festivities as these enthusiastic learners brought the mythical creature Nian to life, spreading joy and good fortune throughout their school community.
The students worked hard on creating Nian, a mythical creature that was said to have taunted villagers the day before spring. One year, so the story goes, the villagers learnt that Nian is afraid of the colour red and loud noises. Since then, people have decorated their house in red paper, wore red clothes, played drums, and set off fireworks on the eve of spring as a tradition and to welcome the new year. In the modern day, this has become the lion dance, which is based on Nian, and the creature puts up dances to bring good luck to people.
Inspired by the lion dance troupes, the students in the class decided to make Nian’s head as a way of bringing good luck to the school. They studied the shape of the head and decided to use a cardboard box to make Nian’s head. The students then noticed that the mouth is a half-circle and learnt how it is said in Mandarin. Ms. Xin Rong then helped the students to cut the mouth out with a penknife.
The students then covered the box with red packets and split into groups to create the eyes and mouth of the creature. They spent time planning the design of the eyes and mouth by looking at different pictures of lion dance costumes, drawing inspiration from them. After placing it all together, the students added tinsel to the lion, deciding to make the eyes look angry. Some students also worked on creating the ears, and Ms. Xin Rong helped to design functional ears so that they can be moved.
The students tried carrying the head and moving the ears and mouth during the celebration in the classroom and in school. They also tried wishing their peers a happy lunar new year in Mandarin and learnt other greeting phrases. The students then tried out different lunar new year snacks such as pineapple tarts and love letters (egg rolls).