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"The Dragon Boat Festival: An Exploration" • 

The Little Skool-House International (By-the-Vista)


Introduction

During our exploration into the theme of traditional festivals, the K1 children displayed interest in the Dragon Boat Festival. This led to a 5-week exploration where children took charge of their own learning.

Learning Objectives:
Children were given the opportunities to:
• Find out how and why people celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival
• Use language to express ideas as they dramatise the story of Qu Yuan
• Work with their peers to plan and carry out a Dragon Boat Festival Party 
As part of our 10-week unit of inquiry about how people celebrate traditional festivals, the children researched about celebrations and found out that the Dragon Boat Festival was coming up soon. The children began to wonder why and how people celebrate this festival. A book was used as a provocation to gather children’s prior knowledge. The children also investigated the topic by using the Internet as well as interviewing teachers and their family members. They realised that one of the traditions associated with the festival is making and eating “zong zi” (sticky rice dumplings).

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Children used a tablet to look for more information about the Dragon Boat Festival. Children recorded the information they found through writing and drawing. 



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To build on children’s interest about sticky rice dumplings, one of the children’s grandmother was invited to share her knowledge about the Dragon Boat Festival. She also taught the teachers and children how to make sticky rice dumplings. The children exercised their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination as they helped to make the dumplings. The children also had the opportunity to ask the grandmother questions about the festival. They found out why dumplings are consumed during this occasion. 

DBF5.PNGChildren also gathered information about the Dragon Boat Festival through books. As they read up on the festival, they found out 
more about the legend of Qu Yuan, which explained the origins of the festival and why dragon boat races are held. The children were excited about what they have learnt, and decided to share their knowledge with friends from other classes through a dramatisation of the legend of Qu Yuan.



As thDBF6.PNGe Dragon Boat Festival grew closer, the children initiated the idea of a Dragon Boat Festival Party. They discussed and decided on the following things to prepare for the party:

  • Make invitations for parents 
  • Create a storybook on the legend of Qu Yuan 
  • Make class decorations such as paper dragon boats 
  • Create a Dragon Boat using recycled materials for a Dragon Boat Race 
  • Prepare snacks such as Chinese tea and sticky rice dumplings 

Each child then chose the tasks they wanted to do. After they had completed their part, they volunteered to help the other groups with their tasks. 


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Some children were given a variety of art materials to choose from to prepare decorations and invitation cards for their families. Another group of children created illustrations for their storybook on the legend of Qu Yuan. They then shared their ideas and feelings with their friends. Children learnt to make sticky rice dumplings for the party.

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Children were given opportunities to practise the gross motor skills they learnt in school while dramatising a Dragon Boat Race with their parents.
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Children gained confidence through speaking in front of an audience as they conducted a quiz for parents after sharing the story of Qu Yuan.

Conclusion


At the core of this project is our belief that children are curious, active, and competent learners. Thus during the exploration into the Dragon Boat Festival, children were provided opportunities for meaning-making and constructing their own knowledge such as engaging in an in-depth investigation and sharing their findings. The children also had opportunities to be actively involved in their learning experiences such as planning the party, learning how to make sticky rice dumplings, and telling the story of the Dragon Boat Festival through their own words and through dramatisation. 

Through the 5-week exploration, the children’s learning experiences were integrated across different domains such as Language and Literacy, Motor Skills Development and Aesthetics and Creative Expression. The children thoroughly enjoyed the process of learning, and we received positive and encouraging feedback from their parents. 

Contributed by: 
Jane Mayriel Singh and Ni Wanlin The Little Skool-House International (By-the-Vista) 
Special thanks to Ms Phang Shu Ann (Principal), all parents and children of K1 Gail Gibbons (2017)