Celebrating the New Year at The International Preschools

86th Street children dance with scarves to honor the Lunar New Year.

Throughout the school year, the children at The International Preschools celebrate holidays from around the world.  Each child’s family is invited to visit IPS and teach about a special tradition or family that he/she participates in at home.  As a result, IPS children acquire a lot of information about world holidays and festivals!

One universal commemoration is the arrival of the new year.  IPS students learned that there are several common themes among the new year celebrations around the world:  eating certain foods, wearing new or specific types of clothing, and making noise via fireworks and noisemakers to scare away “evil spirits” to ensure a good year.  This month, children at both IPS locations became well-versed on how we honor the new year here in our home of New York City, as well as how the Lunar New Year is observed both here and around the world.

One of the Pre-K classes at 76th Street made their own “firecrackers.” Out popped confetti to sprinkle on the revelers!
Pre-K classes watching a video of the new year countdown in Walt Disney World!

During the first week of January, the 76th Street location honored the new year by making party hats and noisemakers.  The children also listened to several great books about the new year, including Shante Keys and the New Year’s Peas by Gail Piernas-Davenport.  This book  told of the food-based traditions in welcoming the new year from a variety of cultures in a child-friendly manner.  At the end of the week, the children came together for the 76th Street New Year Party!  After watching a video of how the countdown to 2020 happened in Walt Disney World, the children were ready to recreate the magic themselves…with “fireworks,” “firecrackers,” and fun!

Both locations celebrated Lunar New Year with a beautiful, interactive performance featuring a “lion” and dancers in the school gym by the New York Chinese Cultural Center.   The children participated in a jubilant welcoming of the Lunar New Year by watching dancers perform with scarves and chopsticks!  Later, children were invited to volunteer to partake in scarf dancing themselves.  The children (and teachers!) enjoyed watching a “lion” (in large puppet form) dance while music was played.  It was fun to see the two puppet dancers reveal themselves in the lion costume, showing the children that the lion was not scary at all!  Many thanks to the New York Chinese Cultural Center for bringing this celebration to IPS!

In the classrooms, families have visited IPS to teach about traditions associated with Lunar New Year, including handing out of red envelopes for good luck and prosperity and eating a delicious feast with family and friends.  The children also discovered that the color red is prominent in Lunar New Year celebrations, as it is a symbol of good luck.  Finally, the children also learned that each of the 12 zodiac years is represented by an animal; 2020 is considered the Year of the Rat!

The “lion” at the Lunar New Year celebration!
IPS dancing participants with the New York Chinese Cultural Center!

Happy New Year (and Happy Lunar New Year) to all!

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