The Year of ... Celebration of the Chinese New Year



Overview:  In celebration of Chinese New Year, the students from my highly diverse classroom read descriptions of the various lunar symbols and completed a prewriting activity comparing and contrasting themselves to their particular symbol, i.e. the Year of the Dragon, the Year of the Snake, etc.  In our reading groups, we had been looking at an author’s use of figurative language.  We then revisited our prewriting activity, applied what we learned about figurative language, and turned our comparisons into poetry.  This poetry accompanied a three dimensional representation of that animal students made out of papier-mâché.

EALR Connection:

Writing: The student writes in a variety of forms for different audiences and purposes.                           

Reading: The student understands elements of literature – fiction.                         

Art: The student communicates through the arts.


v    Students will use their prewriting activity as the basis for writing similes/metaphors/personification.

v    Students will create a three dimensional representation of their animal on which to publish their poem.

Resources/Materials: Various books of poetry/stories/legends


Art materials: Papier-mâché materials (newspapers, flour/water mixture)

Sealing substance such as modge-podge or gesso paint

Time: Six class sessions

Session 1:  (45 minutes)

To help students recall the use of figurative language, students work in pairs reading and researching stories/myths/poetry of their lunar animal and identify the figurative language used.  Students select three examples and further explain and develop the figurative language used. I.e.:

“…A very small mosquito glared at me with rather large confused eyes.”

Personification – mosquitoes don’t glare but it conveys the feeling it must have had when caught. T

“Like sand sticking to your wet skin, they don’t let go.”

Simile – describing how lice sling to your head.

  Session 2: (45 minutes)

Students use the ideas in their prewriting activity on their lunar symbol to create their own figurative language.  Model for students how this is done using student work as an example.

Students then create a poem using the figurative language derived from their prewriting activity.

Options for writing:

          A poem describing the lunar animal

          A poem of conversation with the lunar animal

          A poem of direct comparison/contrast with 

               the   lunar animal

          A poem in which the student becomes the 

               lunar animal.

For students who long to rhyme and who have access to the Internet, there are some great rhyming dictionaries on line, just type in “rhyming dictionary” into your search engine.

  Session 3: (45 minutes)

Students revise and edit their work with a peer.  Model this process with students first using actual student work.


Students draw a design (actual scale, which we have practiced in math) for their three dimensional piece keeping in mind they will be publishing their poem directly on it.

Some students may choose to create a mask, some the body of the animal.  Determine which the students will be doing before going on to the next session so materials can be ready, i.e. the materials for the mask or the armature for the animal.

Session 4 and 5: (90 minutes total)

Students create the armature for their piece and begin to lay on the papier-mâché.  They will need two separate sessions so one layer can dry before applying the second layer. Armature can be made from balled up newspaper that has been taped into shape, pipe cleaners can also be used to form a spine for a structure, bendable wire is another option, balloons for masks, or paper plates for masks.  Starch and white glue make a good paste for the papier-mâché.  It dries quickly and gives a good solid surface.

In between drying and painting, find time to go over each piece quickly with modge-podge or gesso. These substances, while optional, give a good painting surface.

Session 6: (45 minutes or as long as you have)

Students paint their piece, add decorations and “publish” their poetry.  Publishing their poetry right on the piece can be tricky (no mistakes!) so students may wish to publish it on something else and set it so to accompany their piece.


This project is one where students must remain on track or it will go on and on.  If time allows, it is best to have two painting sessions so paint can dry before details are added.  Many students went back to their poetry after the animal was made, further revising and editing.  It was incentive to make what they had already written even better.
















































Making an effort to increase student learning by integrating  art will help children gain meaningful context to their lives.