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MOCAKIDS Storytime at Home: Lunar New Year Legends

The Nian Monster Book CoverXin Nian Kuai Le! It’s time to celebrate Lunar New Year with the special tradition of telling stories. Attendees joined us for two famous New Year legends: the story of the Great Race and the tale of the Nian Monster. The we sang some songs and made a craft together.

READ: Click here to read the legend of the great zodiac race. 

SING ALONG: Click here for the words to our favorite storytime songs and a special one just for Lunar New Year!

MAKE: Explore the 12 animals of the great race by creating this fun zodiac wheel. 

MOCACREATE at Home: Nian Monster Mash-Up

MOCACREATE Nian Monster Mash-Up Materials You'll Need

Legend has it that the Nian monster emerges the night before every new year to frighten villagers and devour their food. But what does Nian look like? Some say Nian has the head of a lion and the body of a bull. Others say Nian is a giant sea beast. Grab a family member or two and draw your own imaginary Nian monster together using this wacky drawing technique that’s sure to make you chuckle.

MAKE: Click here to start your wacky drawing inspired by the Nian monster.

Share your finished projects with us by tagging #MOCACREATE and #MOCACREATEathome on social media, DMing us, or emailing images to Follow our social media for more ways to celebrate the Lunar New Year Festival at home!

MOCAKIDS Author Meet & Greet: Michele Wong McSween

Gordon & Li Li Celebrate Chinese New Year Book Cover Photo of Author Michele Wong McSween

Families joined Gordon, Li Li, and local author Michele Wong McSween for a special Mandarin lesson featuring all their favorite zodiac animals. Michele taught English and Mandarin words from her bilingual book, Gordon & Li Li Celebrate Chinese New Year, where Gordon & Li Li learn about good luck foods, special greetings for a happy and prosperous New Year, and more! A special Year of the Ox bookmark craft followed the reading!

WATCH: Click here to watch Michele’s Mandarin lesson and book reading!

DO: Click here to download special Gordon & Li Li activity sheets! 

MAKE: Design a book corner inspired by this year’s zodiac animal, the Ox. Use it on your Gordon & Li Li books!

About the Book

Gordon and Li Li are cousins. Li Li is from Beijing, China, and speaks Mandarin. Gordon lives in Brooklyn, New York and speaks English. They are so excited to celebrate Chinese New Year together! Gordon & Li Li Celebrate Chinese New Year is an adorable and informative must-have book for any family who wants to get little ones excited to learn about Chinese New Year — and a second language! Each page features the English and pinyin spelling along with the Chinese character and the phonetic Mandarin pronunciation to help readers practice.

About the Author

Michele Wong McSween is a mom, fashion designer, author and a fourth generation Chinese American. Growing up in Sacramento, CA, she never learned Chinese and wanted to be sure her own boys were confident with Chinese language and culture. After enrolling them in early-learning Mandarin classes, McSween looked for appropriate Mandarin bedtime reading and found that little was available. She created Gordon & Li Li with an appealing, simple and modern design aesthetic that would engage kids and parents alike.

Buy the Book!

Gordon & Li Li Celebrate Chinese New Year and other books in the Gordon & Li Li series are available for purchase at Pearl River Mart, Greenlight Bookstore, McNally Jackson, Books Are Magic, Mini Jake, and booksellers near you. They make the perfect gift for budding Mandarin learners.

Lunar New Year Family Festival Lion Dance Welcome

No-No Boy Cup of Noodles Graphic

Sing along to No-No Boy’s “Cup of Noodles,” a song about preparing for the new year and practicing lion dance! Then, summon a year of good luck by watching a dazzling Southern lion dance performed by the United East Athletics Association at MOCA’s 2020 Lunar New Year Family Festival. Move to the rhythm of the drumbeat and learn just what it takes to be the head and tail of the lion!

WATCH: Click here to watch No-No Boy’s “Cup of Noodles” and a lion dance by United East Athletics Association.

SING: Click here for the words to “Cup of Noodles” and sing along with us!

About United East Athletics Association

The United East Athletics Association (UEAA) was established in 1976 to offer Chinatown youth culturally relevant sports programming that could help them develop both physically and mentally. It offers both athletic and educational programs like dragon boat racing, lion dance training, table tennis, badminton, basketball, soccer, volleyball and Chinese chess. As the organization has grown, it has been recognized as a true pillar of the community. Today, UEAA’s expanded offerings include summer youth recreational programs, after school programs, and cultural events around Chinese traditions and arts.

About No-No Boy 

No-No Boy is an immersive multimedia work blending original folk songs, storytelling, and projected archival images to illuminate hidden American histories. Taking inspiration from his own family’s history living through the Vietnam War, as well as interviews with World War II Japanese Incarceration camp survivors and other stories of Asian American experience, Nashville born songwriter Julian Saporiti has transformed years of doctoral research at Brown University into an innovative project bridging a divide between art and scholarship. In “Cup of Noodles,” he is joined by singer, songwriter, and No-No Boy collaborator Emilia Halvorsen.

Lucky Lions

Want to try dancing to the music 🎶, grabbing red envelopes (红包 hóng bāo) 🧧, and tossing lucky candies 🍬 yourself? Make your very own lion head costume right at home with everyday household items and dance in good luck and fortune for the new year! ✨

MAKE: Click here for a how-to on making your own lion head costume!

MOCAKIDS: La Mian for Longevity with Noodle Puller Peter Looi

Photograph of Noodle Puller Peter Looi

Noodles have a long history in many cultures, but the world’s oldest noodles were found in China, over 4,000 years ago! Noodles symbolize long life during the New Year. Watch and learn from expert noodle puller Peter Looi as he demonstrates the art of pulling long life noodles, an especially auspicious New Year’s tradition.

WATCH: Click here to watch Peter’s live hand-pulled noodle demonstration. 

COOK: Try your hand at his hand-pulled noodle recipe here. Please note that noodle pulling requires great patience and much practice. If you don’t succeed the first time, try and try again!

KEEP WATCHING: Be sure to check out Peter’s YouTube channel here for more fun noodle pulling challenges and demonstrations.

About Peter

Peter Looi is an accomplished hand pulled noodle chef, YouTuber, and a student at the University of Oregon. Peter is most well-known for his YouTube channel (Peter Looi CS), where he posts in-depth tutorials on all aspects of noodle pulling from dough preparation to pulling techniques. Peter’s goal is to demystify the art of hand pulled noodles to the world, and pass on this skill to others.

MOCAKIDS: Sugar Paint a Sweet New Year with Ms. Yan

Photo of an Ox Sugar Painting

Join Ms. Yan for an introduction to the sweet art of sugar painting, a delicious traditional Chinese folk art popular amongst street artists in northern China. Watch as Ms. Yan uses hot, liquid sugar and speedy brushstrokes to create popular New Year’s animals, all before the sugar cools and hardens.

WATCH: Click here to enjoy Ms. Yan’s delicious and delightful sugar painting demonstration!

Tray of Togetherness: The Game

Tray of Togetherness Game Picture

The tray of togetherness is a platter with 6 to 8 compartments filled with sweet delicacies and treats like nuts, dried fruit, and candy. These treats symbolize hope for a sweet new year and are shared with the whole family! In this game, you will be creating your very own tray of togetherness!

PLAY: Click here to begin—and to learn about why we eat certain foods during this time of year! 

MOCAKIDS Author Meet & Greet: Oliver Chin

Year of the Ox Book Cover Photograph of Author Oliver Chin

Join Mei, Olivia the Ox, and author Oliver Chin for an exciting tale from the Chinese zodiac. Enjoy Olivia’s sensational adventure, as she grows up to discover her true character. Have a pencil and paper handy for a special drawing demonstration following the reading.

WATCH: Click here to watch Oliver read The Year of the Ox: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac followed by a live drawing demonstration in honor of this year’s zodiac animal. 

DO: Click here to download special Olivia the Ox activity and coloring sheets!

About the Book

Enjoy Olivia’s sensational adventure, as she is growing up to discover her true character. This is an outgoing ox whose journey celebrates the new year.

The fun-loving calf Olivia befriends the girl Mei, and the two become inseparable soul sisters. But pulling her weight on the farm is no easy task for the young ox. Suddenly, when her buddy and village are in trouble, can Olivia show her best qualities? This calf of golden character will appeal to fans of the classic children’s tale Ferdinand.

About the Author

Oliver Chin is the founder of Immedium (www.immedium), a San Francisco publisher of wonderful and inspiring children’s picture books. Of our 50+ titles: 40% feature multicultural themes and characters and 25% are bilingual. Immedium published the original stories of The Octonauts which inspired the hit animated TV show worldwide.

Oliver has written more than twenty books, including the series Tales from the Chinese Zodiac, The Asian Hall of Fame (The Discovery of Ramen, Fireworks & Gunpowder, and Anime & Manga), and Julie Black Belt. He co-authored the critically-acclaimed illustrated anthology Awesome Asian Americans: 20 Stars Who Made America Amazing. He created the graphic novel 9 of 1: A Window to the World, and wrote The Tao of Yao: Insights from Basketball’s Brightest Big Man. Called “an expert in Pacific Rim pop culture” by the San Jose Mercury News, Oliver presents at schools, libraries, and cultural organizations nationwide.

Buy the Book!

The Year of the Ox: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac and other books in the series are available for purchase at The Strand, McNally Jackson, Books Are Magic, and booksellers near you. They make the perfect gift for all the adventurous little ones in your life.

MOCACREATE at Home: Let’s Get Loud! Nian Monster Noisemakers

Nian Monster Noisemakers Graphic

Legend has it that the Nian monster emerges the night before every Lunar New Year to frighten villagers and devour their food. Join MOCA educator Nicole for a thrilling retelling of the Legend of Nian. Then, follow along with MOCA educator Taylor as you learn how transform ordinary household items into festive rattle drums that you can use to scare away the Nian monster until next year.

WATCH & CREATE: Click here to listen to the legend of Nian and learn how to make a festive rattle drum to scare it away!

Share your finished projects with us by tagging #MOCACREATE and #MOCACREATEathome on social media, DMing us, or emailing images to Follow our social media for more ways to celebrate the Lunar New Year Festival at home!

This program was supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.


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