Chinese Theme -6yr- Chinese Drum Craft
Kimberly in Mansonville, QC, Canada
We recently visited China because my husband is working there, so we decided on a Chinese theme for my daughters 6th birthday.
Chinese birthdays are very much like western birthdays, so it wasn’t difficult. I bought a few lanterns in China, but I also made some out of red construction paper (red is for happiness). There are many places to order them online, but making them is much more fun. My daughter and I wore red silk dresses we had purchased in China, but any red dress would to. You could even use fabric paint to decorate an inexpensive red dress or T-shirt. I also put my daughter's hair in a bun and shoved chopsticks through it. I used a plain red tablecloth with red napkins. Streamers would also be very festive.
The Chinese usually don’t bake their own birthday cake (they buy it in the store) because most of them don’t have ovens. I baked a strawberry cake because that was what my daughter had asked for and it fit well with the theme, but any kind would do. I wrote "Happy Birthday Kira" in red Chinese letters. I copied her name off a necklace my husband bought her as a souvenir, but I found "Happy Birthday" online and copied it. You could also copy the number of your child's age if you can’t find out what your child’s name would be. I put strawberries all around the cake, which had pink icing and of course, candles.
In China, presentation is everything. A simple glass of juice in restaurants is often served with little umbrellas and fruit hanging from the side. Ice cream will come with cookies and an umbrella stuck in it. I decided to serve punch with lemon slices on the side and an umbrella in each one. Fruit is a big part of the Chinese diet, so I also served fruit slices (melons, strawberries, peaches, etc). You could make Chinese moon cakes, but my children didn’t like them, and I figured they were going to get enough sugar anyway.
For a craft, I had the kids make Chinese drums out of straws, red Bristol board, string and beads. Everyone decorated two 3" round pieces of Bristol board (firm construction paper) with markers and stickers. Then we tied two beads to a string (so that it's about 6" long after the beads are tied on), and stapled the circles back to back with the straw in between as a handle and the string in between horizontally so that the beads hang to the sides evenly. The kids could then rub the straw between their palms to get the beads hitting the centre of the drum.
I bought Chinese music on our trip (by a lady named Kelly Chen), which I'm sure can be found online. A CD of monks chanting would also work. There are many statues in China, so we played what I called "Chinese Statues". The kids dance around and freeze when the music stops. If they're spotted moving, they have to stay frozen as a statue until the song is done.
We were unable to play "Dragon Tag" due to the weather, but basically, all the kids form a line, holding onto each other’s hips. The person in front is the head of the dragon; the person at the back is the tail. The head has to try to catch the tail (without breaking the line), and when it does, the head becomes the tail and the next kid in line gets a turn being the head. I would have done this until all kids had a chance at being the head.
Another game I thought of afterwards could be called Chopstick Challenge. Have all the kids use chopsticks to transfer beans (or something bigger, depending on the age of the kids) from one bowl to another (not too far apart). They could be divided up into teams, or play individually. I'm trying to get away from doing goodie bags, but I did send the children home with a little umbrella, chopsticks, a Chinese-themed word search and their Chinese drum craft.
Other brainstorming ideas: 2005 is the year of the rooster; try an activity or craft related to the animal of the year. Tigers are believed to protect children, so anything with tigers would be significant. Noodles are for long life, so don’t cut them! Peaches are for longevity. Fans would be easy to make out of scrap wallpaper or wrapping paper (might be too simplistic for older kids). Lemonade could be coloured green to simulate green tea. Look up Chinese Zodiac to learn what each child’s zodiac sign is and implement that into the craft or activity.
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