Tuesday, November 6, 2007

China!

We are having a very special week here in our home. We began the week (last Friday) by celebrating Giggly Girl's adoption day. She has been a treasured part of our family for three years now. (Where has the time gone?) What a precious gift from God is our sweet little girl. Her loving and kind-hearted spirit as well as her contagious laughter have brought so much love and joy into our family. What a special day November 2nd is for us.

The celebration began Friday morning during our Five in a Row time as we kicked off our unit, The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack. We have had so much fun with this book! (More about that in a minute.) Friday night we had Giggly Girl's favorite dinner, combo-fried rice from our favorite Chinese carryout place, complete with fortune cookies! Then we passed out the gifts we bought while in China three years ago. (At that time, we chose something for each Adoption Day through her 18th birthday, as well as several gifts to give Superman each year for the first few years. However, we had no idea that Sweet Pea would be making her grand entrance exactly one year later, so I'm going to have to do some ordering from one of my favorite online Chinese gift shops! For now, I delved into some extra little trinkets we bought, and she was delighted with a toy drum.) Giggly Girl got a cute, pink panda backpack. Superman got a deck of playing cards with Chinese writing on the box. We also gave each of them a toy paper dragon that you pull along on the floor and a picture postcard of the Great Wall. They were delighted with there gifts. Then we dressed the girls up in their Chinese dresses and took lots of photos of everyone. Here are a just a few of them:





I have been looking forward to doing the Ping unit with the kids ever since I purchased my first Five in a Row manual well over a year ago. We love China - the people, the food, the culture. My husband and I say we left a piece of our heart there when we flew home with our baby girl three years ago. It is true. That land holds a special place in our lives and always will.

So this year as Giggly Girl's adoption day approached, I knew that we had to do this book during this special week. We have learned a lot of geography, read lots of books, and today we even took a field trip to a very unusual grocery store with a huge Chinese food section. We bought some sweet red bean paste, egg roll wrappers, rice cakes (in honor of little Ping), jasmine tea, bok choy, and some cute little Chinese teacups and saucers. Most of our finds will be used later in the week for our Chinese feast, but this afternoon I made up a quick batch of the sweet bean buns for the kids to sample (O.K., and for me too. I couldn't wait. I have been addicted to these things ever since we had them in China.) We also had a look (but did not buy) some Chinese delicacies such as chicken feet. The kids thought these were neat.

Now on to our reading list for the week. Thanks to the FIAR boards, I have found some terrific titles to supplement our China studies.
Chang and the Bamboo Flute by Elizabeth Starr Hill (a short chapter book and our current read aloud, this is the story of young Chinese boy who lives on a house boat with his family. He is mute but speaks through his music he plays on his flute. His father is a fisherman and goes out each day with his fishing birds, the cormorants, which we also find in The Story About Ping. A very sweet story - I highly recommend this one!
The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop and pictures by Kurt Wiese (Aside from Ping, this is probably the children's favorite so far. A retelling of an old Chinese tale with humorous pictures by none other than Ping illustrator Kurt Wiese.)
Daisy Comes Home by Jan Brett (Another one I highly recommend. This story was inspired by Mrs. Brett's travels in China, her own pet chickens, and a favorite story from her childhood, The Story About Ping.)
Come Along, Daisy! by Jane Simmons (Another little duck learns the importance of coming when you're called!)
The Story of Kites by Ying Chang Compestine (We have not read this one yet, so I'll get back to you with an opinion later. :)
Traditional Crafts from China by Florence Temko (Some wonderful arts and crafts projects, some of which are a bit much for us. However, we will be doing the tangram pictures and possibly the homemade kite.)
Moonbeams, Dumplings, and Dragon Boats by Nina Simonds (Great background information and legends surrounding the five major Chinese festivals. Lots of recipes and craft ideas) * Note: There is mention of Chinese gods in this book. However, it is more of a resource book for the teacher, not really a read aloud type book.
A Taste of China by Roz Denny (has some wonderful photos of Chinese crops, food, and people enjoying food together. Includes information about what makes up a Chinese meal and some good recipes too. We'll be trying the one for Chinese tea eggs with dipping salt.)
A River Journey: The Yangtze (Takes you on a journey along the river - from beginning to end. Beautiful photos that give you a feel for the river and the people who live on it and along its banks. You can really see the "yellowness" of the water too.)
Some other various picture books of China, The Great Wall, etc.

I'll have another Ping update in a couple of days - stay tuned!

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