Language Activity: Shooting Down the Suns (Happy Moon Festival!)
The Moon Festival, or the Mid-Autumn Festival, is on Monday, September 24th this year. Even though I haven’t celebrated this holiday in the past (unless you call stuffing my face with mooncakes celebrating), I decided that at 4 years old, it’s time that my son learns more about his Chinese culture. For those of you who are not familiar with the origin of the Moon Festival, here is a quick summary of the myth that started it all:
Long, long time ago, there were not 1, not 2, but 10 suns in the sky. As you could imagine, life was kind of chaotic and… well, HOT. Luckily, there was an archer named Hou Yi who was so good that he was able to shoot down 9 of the suns. An immortal was so impressed that he gave Hou Yi an elixir of immortality. Unfortunately for humanity, however, Hou Yi was a tyrannical ruler, so having him living forever would really suck. His wife, Chang Er, decided to take one for the team and drank the elixir, which made her as light as the air and she floated to the moon. Therefore, people celebrate the Moon festival in honor of Chang Er and her sacrifices.
There are many versions of this story, but essentially, in the end, there is a woman on the moon (and some say there is also a bunny on the moon to keep her company). The celebration includes eating mooncakes (you can even get them at Costco these days!), watching dragon and lion dances, and gathering with family to eat lots of yummy food.
To familiarize the kids with the story behind the Moon Festival, we are going to shoot down 9 suns! Not much is needed for this simple activity:
- Construction paper (various colors)
- Permanent marker
To make a perfect circle on the construction paper, you can either use a round object like a bowl or a large cookie cutter. I decided to draw a circle in Word and printed out the circle as my template. Cut out 9 suns from the construction papers with scissors. You can also cut out 10 suns and leave 1 sun as the sun that’s left in the sky, but I went with 9 and the real sun that’s outside shining bright is the 1 that is left.
You can stop here and post up the suns and shoot them down. As I was cutting out the suns, an idea came to me – why not use this opportunity to teach the kids some vocabularies? Instead of leaving the circles blank, I drew faces on them with a permanent marker to represent different emotions, such as happy, sad, angry, bored, etc. Toddlers get especially frustrated because they cannot express to us how they feel, leading to lots of terrible tantrums. If they can verbalize how they feel, perhaps that can reduce the tantrums and meltdowns.
Done! Stick the suns on the wall with tape and let the kids go wild! We initially started with Nerf guns, but it was really difficult to aim so the kids couldn’t hit the suns. They had fun anyway, but got a little frustrated that they weren’t shooting down the suns.
We switched to footballs, and it was much easier to “shoot” down the suns. My kids were super curious about what the faces meant on the suns, so I was able to explain to them each emotion.
You can focus on shooting 1 sun at a time by choosing an emotion or choosing a color. Instead of just a gross motor activity to learn about the Moon Festival, it’s now a language and color activity as well! After the kids are super tired, eat some good food and maybe even some mooncakes! Yummy!
Happy Moon Festival everyone!