Hello inspired readers!
Some of you may know that l Iaunched VietCan online bookstore just before Christmas. One blink later, we are celebrating Tết, I'm so excited! Other than bringing books closer to bilingual parents, I also share other resources that are both fun and educational for our children, starting with this very first blog!
I have been busy selecting Lunar New Year books to introduce to Zoephi Ái Di, our almost 2.5 year-old daughter. As well, I’ve been decorating and making fun activities for Tết.
I hope you will implement some of my ideas to make this Lunar New Year memorable.
Here are a few Montessori-inspired activities you can consider making for your kid(s).
1. Zodiac Wheel
There are so many activities you can do with a zodiac wheel such as:
- Introducing zodiac names of the animals (Tý, Sửu, Dần, Mẹo, Thìn, Tỵ...)
- 2D and/or 3D matching
- Sensory red rice bin with zodiac animals. This post provides simple directions for dyeing rice red. I recommend using a big zipbloc bag to shake, it's so much easier and keep the grains whole.
- Introduce the concept of last year, this year, and next year
The sensory red rice bin is a huge hit in our home. Zoephi is very into transferring activities right now, and full disclosure - is having great fun throwing the rice outside of her bin…everywhere. I just need to mentally remind myself that she’s learning many things while playing.
A couple of tips to help with reducing the mess is to
- get a bigger and deeper bin with lids your child cannot open on their own (Dollarama lock bins!).
- consistently reminding them that rice stays in the bin.
- let them know that the natural consequence of making a mess is to sweep it up, and/or the bin gets put away (and follow through with this warning).
You will not believe how hard it was to find a mouse figurine, something that wouldn't scare me and grandma. I didn't get one in time for this post.
Click to download this FREE Zodiac Wheel.
2. Other Printables
One thing I love about being in this bilingual education space is meeting many other mamas who are enthusiastic and passionate about teaching their children Vietnamese. These mamas really help build up this small community of Vietnamese-English bilingual parenting. Meet Liz who has a wonderful Lunar New Year Learning Packet on her Etsy store ManaleiDesigns.
There are so many activities included in this packet for a small investment, you will sure find something suitable for your child. Zoephi loves the I Spy game. She’s also quite interested in “counting” which is more like saying a string of “một, hai, ba, bốn.....mười” but not quite understanding one-to-one correspondence. So the counting activity is great for both introducing Tet concepts and counting.
3. Tet Books
There are so many great books on Tet/Lunar New Year. This year, along with Tet books, I also make a point of getting to know other countries that celebrate lunar or lunisolar New Year. Let me focus on one Vietnamese book so I don’t run wild with book recommendations.
is the English version of the original Đúng là Tết. I love everything about this book and have been eyeing it since last year. The three-word verses tell a surprisingly detailed story of a little girl traveling with her parents to the countryside back to Northern Co Ban village to join her grandparents and other family members for Tet. The illustrations are so pleasing to the eyes and got me right into Tet mood a month ago. The translation is also very well done. With the illustrations taking up much of the pages, the Vietnamese and English books are in separate versions.
Check out other Lunar New Year books VietCan Bookstore carries, as well as Zoephi-approved Amazon recommendations.
Many Vietnamese parents including myself are not familiar with some Vietnamese Lunar New Year traditions.
In each blog I will do a quick introduction of a topic of interest. For Tet, it seems fitting to talk about lì xì (red envelop) or tiền lì xì (lucky money).
Lì xì originated in China when adult family members were using red pockets and gold/silver coins to ward away Nian the monster from scaring young children on New Year’s Eve. Today, lì xì represents gifting good wishes: good luck, good health, and good outcomes. It is understood that it’s not about the amount, it is about the sincerity and the good intentions accompanying the act of giving. While there are no limits or restrictions, many people choose red bills to give for extra good luck.
A proper etiquette to note is for children to politely accept bao lì xì, and of course wishing the givers all the good wishes they can recite. The very nature of the envelop ensures discreetness – the receiver should not open the red envelop in front of the giver.
Usually children who are financially reliant on their caretakers will receive lì xì, and age 15 is often the cut-off. A lot of personal discretion goes into making this decision, which takes the weight off our adult shoulders.
The giving of red envelopes is widely practiced outside of giving to children during Tet. Anyone can give anyone red pockets during Tet, and during special occasions. Many children choose to give their parents red pockets. Note though it is NOT called “lì xì” out of politeless, but “mừng tuổi”. Instead of saying “cho ba mẹ bao lì xì,” the proper phrase is “biếu ba mẹ quà mừng tuổi”- a gift to celebrate a new birthday. This is because all Vietnamese turn a year older at Tet.