Young Practitioners' Tales: Minghui Dou Dou Kindergarten

Minghui <i>Dou Dou</i> Kinderg

PureInsight | June 28, 2004

[] Nowadays, how many children can have an opportunity to learn how to make rice balls, a traditional Chinese snack for the Chinese Lantern Festival? [The Chinese Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month in a year.] Recently, the children at the Minghui Dou Dou Kindergarten in Taipei, Taiwan celebrated this year's Chinese Lantern Festival in a traditional way. [Dou Dou means "little beans" in Chinese, a common metaphor for small children.] First of all, the teachers assigned the children to different tasks. Some of children made the rice dough and others made the sweet stuffing. By dividing the work among the children, we hoped to teach children the concept of teamwork. Every child tried his or her best to complete the assigned task. Although the kids of two to three years old did not make very pretty rice balls, they were very happy with the rice balls that they had made. They made a game out of guessing who made each rice ball when they ate the cooked rice balls in the soup. "Oh, I know who made this one. It must have been made by Muxuan because she made the rice balls very big." "Wow, is this a rice ball? It looks like a rice ball made of the dough mixed with mashed taro! The dough and stuffing are mixed up!"


The teachers invited the children to come back to school in the evening to parade with Chinese paper lanterns on the street so they could enjoy the traditional New Year's atmosphere. [1] Before the lantern procession, children played several rounds of lantern riddles and received prizes for solving lantern riddles. ["Lantern riddles" is a traditional game played on the day of the Chinese Lantern Festival where riddles are written on lanterns in public contests in which prizes are offered. ] Yingying is a three-and-a-half-year-old little girl. During the procession, Yingying complained that the light in her lantern went out. It appeared that there was something wrong with the candleholder inside her lantern. An older boy named Qizheng was taking care of his younger sister during the lantern procession. Upon hearing Yingying's plight, he gave his lantern to Yingying at once. Another toddler Dingding had a paper lantern that caught fire from the candle inside the lantern. Although uncle Tsai took the lantern and saved it from being burned up, Dingding was a little scared by the incident. [The Chinese people often address older men outside the family as "uncle," a title of respect and affection. ]

Our teacher, Ms. Lu, asked another child, Hanghang, "Hang, would you mind letting Dingding take your lantern for a little while?" Hanghang hesitated for a second and then gave his lantern to Dingding. Dingding took the lantern and said, "Your lantern is heavy!" Hanghang gladly offered, "Let's carry the lantern together!" We teachers watched the scene in the back and smiled. We knew that actually Dingding and Hanghang both wanted to carry the lantern by themselves but they also know that they should be altruistic. It turned out that Teacher arranged them to carry the lantern together!

[1] Part of the tradition of the Lantern Festival is that after dark, all children take their beautiful paper lanterns out on the street and have a lantern procession in the neighborhood escorted by their parents. Sometimes a lantern burns because the candleholder inside the lantern is not straight. Sometimes it burns because the lantern is not carried in a balanced way. Sometimes this happens because little boys hit other kids' lanterns with pebbles. Almost every little girl has at least one lantern burned during the lantern procession because of mischievous boys! Yet the lantern procession is a fond memory for nearly all Chinese people that have participated in it during their childhood.

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