A Little About Celebrating Chinese New Year
February 15 kicks off the 2021 Chinese New year, which lasts until January 21, 2022. Based on the Lunar New Year, it is celebrated in Asian countries around the world, including China, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, and Tibet, as well as Chinese communities throughout the United States.
My daughter and her friends have a round-robin monthly movie night. This month they’ll be watching Mulan, eating fish, dumplings, and sticky rice cakes while celebrating the Chinese New Year! My daughter is hosting and has spent many happy hours creating Chinese Lanterns, beautiful cut-outs, and banners with sayings on them as decorations. The theme was inspired by her Chinese language class. Of course the color red features prominently and that is because “red” traditionally means “good luck” especially accompanied with gold or black lettering or decoration. These are cheery and beautiful decorations and the pops of red are a beautiful contrast to the dead of winter we are experiencing!
Each Chinese Year is assigned an animal. This is based on the Chinese Lunar Zodiac. The Chinese Zodiac is a classification system that assigns animals and related attributes in a 12-year cycle based approximately on the orbital period of Jupiter. 2021 is the year of the Ox. According to tradition, people born during the year of the Ox are considered hard workers, intelligent and reliable. They don’t need to be center stage or demand praise are calm and make excellent leaders.
Celebrate Chinese New Year with Activities
- On Chinese New Year, you’ll commonly see a calligraphy character on a square of red paper, hung in a diamond shape. The character, 福 [fú], means good luck.
- Red envelopes full of money- are traditionally gifted from an elder or parent to children, or to anyone who’s unmarried.
- Firecrackers and fireworks are often set off throughout Lunar New Year, both to ward off an ancient monster called Nian,
- The Lion Dance and Dragon Dance and gymnastic performances are an exciting part of a Lunar New Year parade
Celebrate Chinese New Year with Traditions
- Don’t cry or argue. Talk about happy things to set the tone for the future days.
- Pay your debts before the New Year starts and avoid bad luck.
- Don’t cut your hair or anything else on the Lunar New Year. It is believed that you’ll be severing connections.
- Avoid wearing black or white as they are associated with mourning.
- Don’t do laundry on the first or second day of the New Year. Avoid washing your hair too so that you do not wash your good fortune away.
- Don’t sweep after Lunar New Year’s Eve; you’ll be sweeping away accrued wealth and luck.
- Wear red to attract good luck.
Celebrate Chinese New Year with Lucky Foods to Make and Eat
- Fish – In Chinese, “fish” (鱼 Yú /yoo/) sounds like “surplus” and it’s believed that eating fish will bring an increase in prosperity.
- Chinese dumpling (饺子 Jiǎozi /jyaoww-dzrr/) – legends say that the more dumpling you eat during the New year celebrations, the more money you’ll make in the New Year.
- Glutinous rice cake (年糕 Niángāo /nyen-gaoww/) – symbolizes prosperity. The main ingredients of Nian Gao are sticky rice, sugar, chestnuts, Chinese dates, and lotus leaves.
- Good fortune fruit – tangerines and oranges (橙 chéng /chnng/), which sounds the same as the Chinese for “success” (成). They are selected as they are particularly round and “golden” in color symbolizing fullness and wealth.
As with many New Year traditions celebrated around the world, a deep and thorough house cleaning is in order. Getting rid of the old and treating oneself to new, particularly new clothes. Make sure those clothes are new to bring you good luck!
And share the New Year Celebration with those you love- family and friends- eating, giving red envelopes full of money and wishing each other good fortune and ( 新年好 Xīnnián hǎo) Happy New Year!
Studying a Foreign Language is such an excellent way to learn about cultures, geography, and people around the world. Learn more about our Chinese classes (Mandarin, simplified) Elementary, Middle School, Senior High. Chinese, along with Hebrew and Spanish, is one of three Critical Languages taught live and online at True North Homeschool Academy. We offer Spanish, German, French, and Latin as well. Follow our page on Facebook or join our group where our academy students and teachers sometimes share how their foreign language classes have been inspired by the cultures we study and share your ideas for a Chinese New Year celebration!
As a STOA alumni and coach, I have been through multiple classes and curriculum on public speaking and speech. Although some of these courses are great to teach the basics from, there’s still something missing.
I want you to imagine a high school boy who enjoys the sport of basketball. This boy shoots hoops in his driveway every day and watches every game of his favorite team. Maybe he’s even hired a personal trainer to help him refine his skills. After he graduates the boy goes to try out for a college he wants to attend, paid for by a basketball scholarship, but there’s one problem, he’s never actually competed in a game with a team. Obviously, he is not going to be very successful because as much as he knows about the sport, he has no real experience.
Similarly, many students that study speech and public speaking have not had a platform to prove their skill set and receive needed critiques from judges. By competing against other students in their age group, students can test their strengths and weaknesses.
Why Choose Competitive Speech for Homeschoolers?
Competitive Speech may not seem like it’s necessary at all. Can’t a student give a speech to their parents, or local co-op, and improve based on those critiques? They can but only to a limited extent. Judges push students beyond their comfort zone in a way that parents and friends won’t.
How well will the class push the students outside of their comfort zone?
Until the student overcomes their fear of public speaking, there will always be an obstacle in their future. Ultimately competitive speech tournaments are the best at creating the real-world atmosphere that students will face in college and the workplace. This forces the students to have to get out of their comfort zone. Each student is different and some may love public speaking from the start. Even these students will benefit greatly from STOA Coaching and competition.
So, what is STOA?
From the STOA website, STOA is “Stoa is a national Junior High and High School Speech and Debate League serving the needs of privately educated Christian Homeschooling families.”
STOA offers 11 speech events for the 2018-2019 season which runs from August to May. The events are broken down into four categories:
- Interpretive Speeches,
- Limited Preparation Speeches,
- Platform Speeches, and
- Wildcard Speeches.
Within the categories the events are –
- Duo Interpretation
- Humorous Interpretation
- Open interpretation
- Dramatic interpretation
- Mars Hills Impromptu
- Original Oratory
You can find specific descriptions of each event at this link: https://stoausa.org/speech-events/.
How can my homeschool student become prepared to compete in a STOA event?
True North Homeschool Academy offers STOA prep specifically for homeschool students in our live (online) speech course. This course provides instruction and experience in preparation and delivery of speeches within a public setting. Emphasis is placed on research, preparation, delivery, and evaluation of informative and persuasive speaking. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to prepare and deliver well-organized speeches. They will have also developed the interpersonal skills necessary to be effective communicators in an academic setting.
The True North Academy Speech club meetings will run the entire 2nd semester. The students will spend the first and second month learning the basics of speech writing and selecting which speech events they like the most. They can select up to 5 events to compete in for a NITOC modeled (aka qualifying) tournament.
How do the STOA Tournaments Work?
Tournaments are held in most states by local clubs, but each competition is a little different. Tournaments can have either speech or debate, both, or a combination of either. Tournaments will usually have a total of 6 preliminary rounds for speech events, and those rounds will be split into A and B patterns so that the events are split between the 2 patterns. This split means each student will compete three times in the preliminary rounds.
These rounds are usually 2 hours long and preferably will have 3 judges per a room to ensure maximum feedback for the student. After the preliminary rounds, most tournaments will have out rounds(e.g. Quarter-finals, Semi-finals, and finals) depending on the schedule.
For students to qualify for NITOC (Nationals) they must receive 2 “green check marks” from qualifying tournaments during the season. In order to get a check-mark in that event, the student must place in the top 40% of that event.
This season NITOC will be in Dallas Texas from May 20-25 at Dallas Baptist University.
Are you interested in learning more or joining a True North Speech Club? Find more information on our website or feel free to contact us with any questions.
(The following is a guest post from Rebecca Toon, author and creator of Homeschool on the Ranch.)
Did you know rodeo can be counted as a school elective? It doesn’t have to be just an expensive hobby. Yes, it’s expensive. But there are so many lessons and skills learned when your kids rodeo I can’t even count them all.
Two out of our four kids rodeo so far. Our oldest son rides mini bareback ponies and is learning how to rope. Our oldest daughter runs barrels, poles, and is learning to goat tye and rope. Since we’ve started junior rodeos they’ve learned many lessons and life skills that’ll benefit them for years to come.
Let’s talk about the life skills your kids will learn from the rodeo.
Taking care of something other than themselves
This is huge. Kids are naturally selfish. When your kids have to go out in 10-degree weather, unfreeze the water hose, and water, feed, and hay the horses, then they learn a little something about selflessness. Our horses completely depend upon our kids for water and food and I tell them time and time again, if they aren’t watered every day they’ll die. It’s up to them to keep them alive.
This kind of goes along with taking care of the animals, but they also learn the responsibility of keeping up and taking care of all of their tack and supplies. I can’t do it all for them. I won’t. It’s not doing them any favors by doing so.
They know their tack, supplies, rodeo bag, etc. has to be taken care of, oiled on occasion, and loaded up for every rodeo. If it’s not in the trailer when we get to the rodeo, they get to figure something out when we get there. It very seldom happens anymore because they’ve learned to be responsible and take care of it.
Rodeo isn’t cheap. Our kids work on our ranch to earn their entry fees and they work hard. When they have some extra they help us pay for their tack and supplies. Our goal is to help them learn how to manage their money and learn to pay their “bills” first and buy their wants after.
Winning Doesn’t Come Easily
Rodeo is a sport that’s full of let downs. There’s only one winner at the end of the day. It sounds harsh, but that’s just the way it is. We’ve been doing this for a year and a half and our daughter finally won her first check last weekend. My son has won 1.
Practice Makes Perfect
Practice, practice, practice. You and your horse have to be in sync. You both have to be the ying to the yang, so to speak. Working in harmony and such. Practice is how you accomplish this. Practicing for the rodeo isn’t anything like walking out onto the basketball court and shooting some hoops. It’s catching your horses, loading them up and taking them to the arena, saddling them, warming them up, actually practicing, then unsaddling, taking them home, and letting them go. All in imperfect weather. It’s a lot of work.
Like I said before, rodeo is full of let downs. It’s a sport that will teach your kids to be a gracious loser. Losing’s not fun, but they’ve learned to have fun without winning.
Since homeschoolers get such a bad wrap for not being socialized, this is a great reason to rodeo. Our kids socialize with all ages of people at rodeos. From parents to teenagers to the kids their own age. These people become your family by the end of the season.
The great thing about rodeo people is they always spur each other on and want to help each other be the best that they can be. You’ll always see the kids helping each other and letting each other know what they did wrong and what they can do to fix it.
My daughter has a teenage friend helping her become better. They’re in competition with each other at the barrel racings we go to, but they both want each other to be the best that they can be.
Rodeo is a lot of work for parents. It’s expensive, it’s tiresome, and a lot of sacrifices are made. I don’t always like it, but I know that we’re making a great investment in our children’s future.
About Rebecca – Hey, ya’ll – I’m Rebecca. I’m a homeschooling mom of 4. I spend my days homeschooling, momin’, blogging, and helping my husband on our ranch. I love encouraging other moms in their homeschooling journey. Visit me over at Homeschool on the Ranch. Keep up to date on my Facebook Page, Facebook group Relaxed Homeschool Moms, Instagram and Pinterest.
When I first made the decision to homeschool my son who was just starting Kindergarten, I began to look at curriculum. I soon discovered there were THOUSANDS of choices! And that was just for one subject! I soon found that there were favorites among homeschoolers – for example, the “Saxon-eers” and the “Math-U-See-ers”!
Electives are sometimes harder, though. Everyone is looking for core curriculum, but electives are based on interests, which can vary widely. While classes and activities are readily available, the sea of information can be overwhelming at times.
Personally, I am a big believer that our children should have some choice in their homeschooling, especially if there are struggles in one or more academic area. That is some of the benefits of homeschooling, and it helps prepare them for making choices and career decisions as teenagers and adults.
Here are a few ideas for pursuing interests through homeschool electives. Some are free, the others are worth every penny…
Homeschool Electives for the Child that Loves Animals:
Does your child love animals? Does he love to go to the zoo, visit the animal shelter and pet shop?
- Science classes – classes are available on all kinds of topics – oceanology, zoology, entomology…these and more would be subjects this type of child would be interested.
- Pre-Veterinarian classes – hands-on experience by volunteering for a local veterinarian or horse ranch
- Unit studies about specific animals – there are lots available online, or make your own by pulling resources together. For ideas, visit SPED Homeschool’s Curriculum page on Pinterest
- Volunteering at the local animal shelter – Help train and care for animals to help them find their forever home
- Visit zoos and national and state parks – so much can be learned by watching and seeing animals in natural and man-made habitats! Most zoos offer educational programs and classes, and state parks often include educational tours and information.
- TNHA’s Biology Class – an awesome class for learning about animals down to the cellular level.
Homeschool Electives for the Child that Loves computers:
From Powerpoint to coding, the computer can make schoolwork seem a lot more fun!
- Hour of Code – from pre-reading through high school, a great resource to explore and decide if this might be something you enjoy.
- TNHA’s C# Programming Class – a hands-on class for ages 12 and up!
- Game Design – Love computer games? Learn to design your own with this great class (12 and up).
- Loves Designing and Building – This is my boys – the Future Engineer and the Future Architect!!!
- Lego Club (check your local CO-OP or Library to see if they have one or start your own – Legos build problem solving skills and spatial awareness.
- Variety of Building Blocks – From magnetic blocks to tinkertoys, having a variety of blocks allow children to explore how things might fit together under different circumstances.
- TNHA’s Digital Art and Design – as our world becomes more digital, this is a growing and necessary area to explore and become familiar with!
- TNHA’s 3D Modeling – Pre-recorded awesome class students can complete on their own time schedule! Great ½ credit elective that his fun and exciting!
Homeschool Electives for the Child that Loves Languages:
Languages help us to understand English better, as well as gives us access to the world.
- TNHA’s ASL I – Hands-on kinestethic language that is fun and useful in so many career and recreational applications! (Used by police officers, firefighters, scuba divers, etc).
- Hebrew Classes from TNHA – Learn about the language and culture of the Bible! By understanding the context, you gain a deeper meaning and appreciation for the Word.
- TNHA’s Latin Class – Latin is the foundation for many languages, it can help you to understand and appreciate many other languages including Spanish, French and Italian.
- Flip Flop Spanish – Conversational, visual Spanish curriculum (See It Say It begins at age 3) – Now also offers a High School Spanish Course – Spanish Geniuses!
Homeschool Electives for the Child that Loves to cook or Loves Food:
Explore the world through food – try new things and have fun!
- Explore cookbooks together – From Mediterranean to Rachel Ray, cookbooks can be a great learning experience! By trying new recipes, you can explore cultures and foods from around the world. Broaden it into a unit study to explore more about the geography, influences and other factors that go into determining why foods are preferred in different regions of the world.
- Volunteering at the local food bank or food kitchen – Community service can be a great way to meet people from around the world and from all walks of life. It is also a way to teach a giving spirit and a humble heart.
- TNHA’s Culinary Arts class – Fun to do together with your child, or allow your child to explore basics on their own!
Homeschool Electives for the child that loves space:
The moon and space seem so mysterious and far away, bring them closer with some awesome resources!
- NASA has videos, articles and other resources – a great way to explore about the universe and what we know so far
- Hubble Telescope Images – see pictures taken from space and what we are learning about our universe on a daily basis!
- Visit an observatory or planetarium in your area – Most offer educational tours and great resources for learning more!
- Loves Books – From classics to new, books open doors and allow your child to explore different universes!
- Check your local library for reading programs – ours include great prizes for children and even adults!! Also, check your favorite restaurants to see if they have a reading club or would be interested in starting one!
- TNHA’s C.S. Lewis Club – Explore these incredible books in this fun club!
- TNHA’s Classics Club – explore Greek and Roman life through this fun and exciting club while being engaged in some fun projects!
So what do you think? Do you believe in pursuing interests through homeschool electives? What are some of your favorite choices?
Amy Vickrey is a homeschooling mom of a six-year-old and almost two-year-old, and the wife and caregiver of a disabled veteran who struggles with health issues and PTSD. She holds a Masters of Science in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction, from the University of Central Missouri and a Bachelors of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas State University. Also, she spent 2 years of college studying Interpretation for the Deaf and Deaf Studies and knows American Sign Language. Her teaching certifications include Special Education, English as a Second Language and Generalist (early childhood through fourth).
One of the greatest perks of homeschooling is that it can be tailored to each child. This perk not only applies to core curriculum but also to all the little extras. You may be tempted to skip out on some of these. However, these extras are what can take a typical homeschooling day from boring to extraordinary!
Electives, jobs, college prepping, life skills- these are frosting on the cake. They take a good, solid plan and jazz it up into something grand and festive. So how do homeschool extras add value?
1). Homeschool Extras Explore Their Interests
One year, our freshman took the Grammar of Poetry, Middle East studies, Intro to Water Color and Bio lab in our co-op. He also took Chemistry Lab and Myths and Legends online. Why? Because it was what interested him! Another year he enrolled in music studies, a lab at a local hospital, as well as a Physical Science lab. Our kids have even studied Spanish at the local co-op with native Spanish speakers. We have sought out opportunities for them to explore things that are their passion.
Find out what your child loves. What sparks their passion? What lights a fire in them? Perhaps you have a child that loves cooking. Then our culinary course would be an easy place to start fanning that flame. Maybe you have one that loves art. Then don’t forget to check out our digital art design course. Maybe a local art class would even spark their interest.
Explore their interests and match their curiosity. You might be surprised where your adventures might lead you.
2). Homeschool Extras teach Life Skills
Our acreage and house-rebuild project have provided ample opportunity to learn life skills. Our kids know, in great detail, about parts of construction and remodeling. All of the kids also know how to comparison shop, cook and meal plan. They know how to glean and acquire goods and clothing for next to nothing and still look well dressed and respectable. Students learn life skills in several ways.
First, from simply living.
By living and working alongside each other. Most of the above were not curriculum but necessity driven. When my husband and I have not known how to do something (i.e. tile the bathrooms) we have found mentors and books and learned. Our lifestyle has necessitated seeking out information and implementing it.
Life skills for our teens also include knowing how to introduce people to each other, carry on a civil conversation, make others feel welcome and at home and engage in moral, honest relationships. We love technology, but use it as a tool rather than being enslaved to it. Shaking hands and making eye contact with new acquaintances is a lost art and one we hope our kids embrace, even as they leave our home. Everyday life offers so many opportunities for homeschool extras, embrace it!
Also, from part-time work or volunteering.
Our high-schoolers have often had jobs that have included part-time work at tea and coffee houses, office work, farm and ranch work and most recently working at an orchard. Never undervalue learning from hands-on training.
3). Homeschool Extras Help Prepare Your Child
What comes after high school? We have found college is getting more expensive, less academically challenging and of questionable value when coupled with crippling debt. We are also in that odd middle-income range that affords mostly nothing regarding government aid, but can’t justify $25K per year per child on college. Where does that leave us? With college hacking, vocational and entrepreneurial endeavors.
Homeschoolers can spend their high school years fine-tuning their plan. They can ask what comes next? With that dream in mind, they can form a plan and a strategy on how to implement it. Do they want a career that will require college? Then perhaps they can start with some cheaper classes at the local college. They can even volunteer in their field of interest to help with scholarship applications. Maybe college isn’t their thing; then they can always pick up a part-time job in their area of interest.
(Need help during those scary high school years? Check out our homeschool advising service in our store!)
As I wrote this post, it seemed a bit superfluous. I mean, most of the extras look like stuff that we “do” as a matter of course through living our lives. I offer what we do and have done as mere suggestions – perhaps they will spark an idea for you. So how about you, do you see the value of the extras?
Homeschooling is a Unique System
To homeschool high school requires a certain amount of core subjects to graduate. Of course, as homeschooling parents, we know this.
But here is something you probably DON’T know, or have never considered:
While many families use traditional methods of teaching such as textbooks and workbooks, there is a system that is vastly superior and far more engaging, especially for struggling learners and those on the Spectrum.
And while homeschool electives these days seem to be unending as far as choices, gaming as a homeschool elective can function as several electives in one.
It truly combines many subjects of homeschool high school into one, making life far more enjoyable for your students, less stressful, more engaging, and thus increasing, in the long run, their academic proficiency which will better prepare them for their futures.
What is this system? It’s adding gaming as a homeschool elective.
RPGs to Homeschool High School
Role Playing Games (RPGs) incorporated into learning and exercise.
Now chances are your child is already well-versed in RPGs. After all, it’s how most video games these days are played. My son, now 17, likes to Play Skyrum and Mountblade. He also loves Lord of the Rings and Narnia, just like I do.
The most well known and controversial RPG game is Dungeons & Dragons.
Dungeons and Dragons, despite the normal bad rep, is neither good nor evil; but is defined by the actions and the heart of the DM (Dungeon Master) who oversees the running of the story world. When in a D&D session, with a good morale DM you are likely to have a clean and fun game. If the DM is chaotic and ungrounded in their morals, the game will be dark and fall into inappropriate content.
My RPG Experience
Years ago as a teen, I was a Dungeon Master (DM) myself and spent countless hours writing fantasy novels, creating worlds, making timelines, and making up my own languages.
I also spent my childhood “playing Narnia” in the Mesa behind my backyard. These were idyllic hours of pretend play as we would battle foes as Narnians. You could not get me in before 9 o’clock on a summer evening!
An Intriguing Idea
So when my nephew, Nate, came to visit several years ago and suggested we use RPG for homeschooling I was intrigued. A DM himself and a participant in several RPG live action groups, he recognized the potential this had for learning.
I saw what it could do for my son and other kids like him who are on the Autism Spectrum. Kids who hid themselves in front of a computer and had very little motivation to do anything else.
Our Epic Quest
So began our epic quest in starting a LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) Club and Camp. We far exceeded expectations in enrollment and what’s even more important, we made an incredible impact.
We also incorporated a collaborative group storytelling hour that Nate calls “Advanced Narrative Roleplay (ANR). Many parents see D&D as problematic so we took that element out and through creating our own world with Christ-centered emphasis, we made the theme of our play defeating evil by a group of heroes. The ANR is by far the most favorite part of our club and camp!
Through our programs we saw:
- Children and parents making friends, in many cases for the first time ever
- The kids had freedom of creative expression, which helped their confidence
- Some of them came hating to write and left having a passion for it. One is even writing a novel!
- Children’s aggressive behavior was mitigated and those who were bullied learned to appropriately stand up for themselves
- Children learned how to collaborate in teams
- Students who felt helpless, near suicidal, depressed, hopeless, and far from God began seeking, asking for help, and committing their lives to Him!
As one of our students told me, our group was a lifeline to him!
So as the new school year approaches, we are adding another layer: ancient history. Each year we will add another historical time period.
The Possibilities are Endless!
But the possibility for using RPG in homeschool high school and in any grade level is limitless. Math, literature, writing, science…
And of course, with the LARPing, we had a PE component to it. The children make boffer swords and then duke it out in ditch battling sessions and play games like King of the Hill, Zombie Apocalypse, Capture the Flag. They run around OUTSIDE and interact with each other. It helps build teamwork, muscle coordination, eye-hand coordination…
But most of all, THEY LOVE IT!
My son? He is becoming a leader through all this. He spends less time playing video games and more time thinking about costumes or what different weapon he can make or shield he can construct. At this time, he’s attempting to make wooden swords and then sell them for a business.
What can LARPing and RPG learning do for your child? All this and more!
If you’re ready for an out of the box experience and an immersive learning tool, consider this creative approach to teaching homeschool high school today.
(Want more ideas on how to add gaming as a homeschool elective? Check out our game design course!)