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The Chinese lantern festival – an introduction

Approximate duration: 3–4 lessons


 Key competencies:

  • Thinking
  • Using language, symbols and texts
  • Relating to others
  • Participating and contributing

 Effective teaching:

  • Enhancing the relevance of new learning
  • Facilitating shared learning
  • Providing sufficient opportunities to learn

 Links to social inquiry processes:

  • Finding out information
  • Exploring values and perspectives


Conceptual understandings/learning intentions:  Today we are learning that...

  • (Level 4) Chinese New Zealanders and other New Zealand cultural groups pass on and sustain their culture and heritage in different ways and for different reasons.

How did the customs and traditions of the Chinese lantern festival begin?

Review the meaning of the words “customs” and “traditions” with the class and then play the game “Last five standing”. Everyone stands in a circle. The teacher calls out the name of a celebration and someone else calls out a matching tradition or custom. If you make a call before anyone else you can sit down. The calls continue – first with a celebration, then a tradition. The game is played until there are only five students standing.

Tell the story of Yuanxiao, about the Chinese lantern festival, while the students listen and identify the origins of the different customs. Before you begin the story share the "Find out about the lantern festival" questions to add focus to the listening.

List the customs that the students identified and discuss how this story says they began.

Divide the class into five groups. Give each group a story from the collection of lantern festival stories. The students need to read the story as a group and identify the traditions and customs of the Chinese lantern festival that the story represents.

The students identify the different characters in their story and describe their emotions and actions. The teacher asks the students to act out the story to the rest of the class. They will need to decide how best to dramatise the story. For example, they may choose to have a narrator tell the story while the other group members mime the actions OR they may decide to write a simple play script and assign each group member a role OR they may want to create a puppet show.

The students work in their groups to rehearse the acting out of their specific lantern story. Each group then presents their story to the rest of the class. The audience identifies the traditions and customs of the Chinese lantern festival that the story represents.

The students create a wall display to communicate the key traditions and customs of the Chinese lantern festival.

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