Autumn Lessons for Preschoolers that Teach Chinese Culture

Autumn Lessons for Preschoolers that Teach Chinese Culture
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Children will recognize that the Chinese celebrate Thanksgiving and other holidays differently than we do.

Children will identify three traditional activities used during Chinese Moon Festival celebrations.

Students will explain why the Chinese celebrate the Chinese Moon Festival by recognizing and understanding legends.

Students will compare our alphabet to Chinese characters.

Students will gain an understanding of what a legend is and explain one Chinese legend.

Time Allotment:

Allow 3-5 class periods. Celebrate September 12, 2011 during the actual Chinese Moon Festival celebration time.

Resources and Materials

Children’s books on Chinese Moon Festival (see appendix)

World globe or map

Moon Festival song and printable book

Chinese symbols for each student’s name

Materials for crafts (see individual crafts and activities)

Photos of mooncakes

Introduction: Chinese Moon Festival and Printable Book

The Chinese celebrate the Harvest Moon with a Chinese Moon Festival instead of a traditional Thanksgiving. The festival is held on a different date each year whenever the moon is the brightest and fullest on the 15th day of the eight month of the Asian calendar. This year the celebration will be held on September 12, 2011.

During the festival families get together to celebrate feasting on red foods which are believed to bring good luck, such as lobster, salmon, apples, pomelo, and mooncakes. Mooncakes are a big part of the celebration. Family and friends send each other the cakes as a token of gratitude. Mooncakes are round and filled with lotus seed or sweet bean paste. The crust is flaky and the top may have a rabbit, woman or the Chinese symbol for longevity stamped on it. Occasionally the yolk of an egg is baked inside the cake to represent the moon.

There are many different legends that go along with the celebration. During the moon festival one can ask the lady in the moon for a wish. The lady may grant the wish, but only if it is unselfish and meant to better or help someone else. The jade rabbit is believed to live in the moon with the lady and once in a while during the moon festival you can see both of them smiling down on you.

These unique autumn lessons will help children learn different cultures and traditions with a fun Chinese Moon Festival activity, craft and song.

Have the children read the Chinese Moon Festival printable book located in the media gallery. Show children where Asia is located on the globe or world map. Read the books and sing the Moon Festival song. The children will demonstrate knowledge of Chinese characters by writing their name on paper mooncakes in Chinese.

Moon Festival Song

Children will learn about the Chinese Moon Festival thorough music and movement with this cute harvest celebration song. Tell children that we celebrate the Harvest Moon with festivals and flea markets. In the fall during the equinox the moon is brighter and bigger allowing farmers to stay in the field longer to harvest their crops. Chinese celebrate with the moon festival.

Moon Festival Song (tune of Wheels on the Bus)

The festival of the moon is coming soon, coming soon, coming soon. (dance around with arms in circle like moon)

The festival of the moon is coming soon, on September 11.

We will eat yummy mooncakes, mooncakes, mooncakes. (pretend to eat)

We will eat yummy mooncakes during the Chinese Moon Festival.

We’ll make a wish to the lady in the moon, the lady in the moon, the lady in the moon. (point in the sky)

We’ll make a wish to the lady in the moon, during the Chinese Moon Festival.

We will play with our Chinese lantern, Chinese lantern, Chinese lantern. (pretend to carry a lantern)

We will play with our Chinese lantern during the Chinese Moon Festival.

Secret Message Mooncakes

Show children a variety of Chinese symbols and compare them to our alphabet. Talk about mooncakes and show photos. It is believed that once long ago the Chinese used to send secret messages that were baked inside the mooncakes to one another. Read the book, “Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival," by Grace Lin. After reading the story children will make their own mooncakes and write their name on the top in Chinese and draw a special message inside their mooncake. Compare the messages inside fortune cookies to mooncakes. After participating in the activity, children will enjoy snacking on fortune cookies and reading their fortune.


  • 2 Brown construction paper circles for each child
  • 1 piece of white typing paper per child
  • Black paint
  • Crayons
  • Brad
  • Black marker
  • Paint brushes

How to Make:

The teacher will visit the Chinese tools website to find the correct symbol for each child’s name and write it on an index card. Children will practice writing the symbol of their name on the white paper with a paint brush and black paint. Provide students with a large white circle and 2 brown circles. Students will think of a message they would like to relay to the rest of the class and draw a picture of it on the white circle using crayons, and write their Chinese name on the brown circle with the black marker. The teacher will place a brown circle on the top and bottom of the white circle with a brad. Children can exchange their mooncakes and try to guess one another’s secret messages.

In additon to these wonderful activities and crafts children will enjoy making a paper lantern. The directions can be found at the fun family education website. Decorate with tinfoil and glitter; place a glowstick inside so they will glow. Make traditional mooncakes and learn about the different phases of the moon.

lantern and moon lady 001

Moon Lady Wishing Box

Read the book, “The Moon Lady,” by Amy Tan. After reading the book and discussing the legend behind it, children will think of things they would like to wish for. Remind the children that their wishes must be unselfish. After giving examples of unselfish wishes the children will create a beautiful moon lady craft.


  • Dark blue or black paper
  • Glue
  • Small shoe box
  • Blue and silver glitter
  • Stars cut from tinfoil or star stickers
  • star template and white circle


The children will make a wish; the teacher will write it on an index card. Cover a small shoe box and the lid (separately) with black paper. The teacher will draw a face, hair and stars on the box lid with a pencil. Children will place glue on the lines and sprinkle glitter. The sides of the box can also be decorated with foil, star stickers, glitter or different moon phases. Once the glitter is dry, children will open the lid and place their wishes inside the box. Students will continue to put wishes in the box for years to come.

lantern and moon lady 003


Chinese name on mooncake will be assessed.

Song, and questions about traditions will be assessed.

Sharing of items made during hands-on activities will be assessed.

Extension Ideas

Explain to students that the moon looks like a face because of the craters that are on the moon. Show photos of craters. Tell children to gaze at the moon and see if the craters and shadows on the moon resemble animals or faces. There are a large variety of extension ideas for this lesson. Study moon phases, take a more in depth look at Chinese culture, learn about silk or study other Chinese celebrations. Whatever you choose to do, your class will gain a better understanding and appreciation for different cultures and their beliefs.