Category Archives: Cultural Literacy

Learning Chinese Characters at Preschool

3 part cards izzy

The preschool class is learning to read and write Chinese characters.   We’re beginning with numbers and then will progress to other simple characters.  A variety of methods are being used to facilitate learning.

The Montessori 3 part card method is being use to introduce the characters. Children are shown a whole card with a picture and the Chinese character beneath the picture. The whole cards are placed on the table and then matched with the corresponding pictures and characters.

3 part cards elijah






The iPad is being used as a tactile method to facilitate writing. Our Chinese teacher shows children the correct order in which to write the characters. Children then practice writing and can do the activity as many times as they want since the sheet can be erased and reused. Children’s work can then be shared with parents through email.

ipad 4 marcus

ipad 4 chase











After completing the Montessori 3 part cards and the iPad exercises children are ready to write the characters on paper worksheets.

worksheet max

worksheet bella












Little Pandas Preschool

A Whale of a Tale

Finished Bella

During January the children learned about cold climates and worked with the story “A Whale of a Tale” from Twenty Tellable Tales compiled by Margaret Read MacDonald.  This story originates from the Eskimos.  At the beginning of the month children looked at the globe to see where Eskimos live and then where they live.  Our class talked about weather and animals found in arctic climates.

Teachers told the story using flannelboard figures copied from prints in the book.  Children also learned Chinese vocabulary related to the story.

Flannel Board Figures

A winter painting was created to go along with the story.  Children were given a canvas on which to squirt dots of acrylic paint in cool colors to create a winter background.   

Paint Dots Group

Paint dots Marcus

The paints were then mixed to produce the background for the story figures to be printed onto.

Paint SpotsPainting 2

Misty-Jade and I made stamps from the story figures.  We traced the prints onto foam sheets, drew in the details, and then traced the details with an Exacto knife.

Story Figures 2Story Figures 3



Stamp pads were made using two layers of fabric interfacing cut into circles to fit inside a plastic picnic plate.  The fabric was soaked with water and then white acrylic paint was poured on top and spread out.

Stamp Pad

Set Up

Children stamped the figures onto their winter paintings.  After the paint dried the children applied a coat of Mod Podge diluted with water to the pictures.  Some irridescent glitter was sprinkled over the Mod Podge for snow.


Last week the children retold the story during circle time using their pictures as a guide.   They were all able to include the Chinese vocabulary they had learned.

Finished MaxFinished IzzyFinished Elijah

Here is M’s rendition of the “Whale of a Tale!”

Little Pandas Preschool

Autumn Moon Festival

The children are celebrating Autumn Moon Festival at preschool this week! Yesterday began with Gloria telling the Chinese story about Chang er, the Moon Lady, and the Jade Rabbit.  

After circle time the kids made lanterns to hang in the gym and the toddler classrooms.  

During free time the children chose from a variety of centers to work at including the language arts center.  The language arts center offers six activities to promote language development.  Today pictures depicting the Autumn Moon Festival were available for the children to color.  The pictures are inserted into plexiglass sign holders and then the children color them with washable Crayola window markers.  Children colored pictures of the Moon Lady, the Jade Rabbit, and moon cakes.

The children feasted on moon cakes at afternoon snack.  After snack they had a fabulous time dancing with kite spinners to music.  

Be sure to take your kids outside to look at the moon and see if they can find the Moon Lady and the Jade Rabbit!

Little Pandas Preschool

Music & Literacy

Our curriculum has always focused on language and literacy skills, but this year we want to expand this to include cultural literacy through music. I’ve been doing some internet research about this and have found many sites arguing the pros and cons of cultural literacy. One site argued very well for the use of music in the classroom to promote academic excellence. Some interesting reading has been linked below. While I’ve never read E.D. Hirsch’s book about cultural literacy I thought the argument for cultural literacy was excellent. However, what each of us would deem necessary to be culturally literate would be up for debate. Reading this also made me ask if my own children were culturally literate and what gaps need to be filled in their educations.

I’m using the book Rise Up Singing edited by Peter Blood and Annie Patterson as a place to begin. For parents that want to purchase the book for use at home with your kids the ISBN is 0-9626704-9-9. I’ve created a play list on my iTunes application and am searching iTunes for the songs in the book. Children in all classes will get to listen to this music daily. We’ll also learn some of the songs that relate to this year’s curriculum theme. We’ll begin the year learning “All I Really Need” from Raffi’s album “Songs of the World.” We’re also going to learn “Love Grows One by One” from Stuart Stott’s album “Celebrate.” It’s been fun listening to songs I learned as a child and to new ones I’ve never heard.

I would encourage everyone to search “Shenandoah” in iTunes. There were so many beautiful renditions. I bought 4 of them! I’m sure all the kids will enjoy listening to folk music and have fun learning some new songs. as literacy.doc+music+an+avenue+for+cultural+literacy&cd=22&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari