Immersive language study is an essential part of the Early Learning curriculum at Whittle. Recently, our Kindergarten class has been using tea as a way to better understand Chinese culture. In China, tea is a vital part of the culture, and people drink it on a daily basis. During the course of this lesson, students have been able to smell, taste, and touch the tea as a way to explore more Chinese culture. As a multi-session activity, Yang Laosi brought a tea set in for the class to use. It was a tea tray with different parts, each having their own function. It included a tea scoop, tongs to pick up teacups, the tea leaves in the cups, and the tea canister. During each lesson, our students learned about a new tool. An example of this was wen xiang bei (闻香杯) for smelling the tea.
During their classes, students also learned new vocabulary, Chinese characters, and the tea processes. During morning meeting students would smell the tea and touch it to get a sense of the texture. Students learned the difference between teas and guessed what was in each one using the Mandarin skills they have learned thus far.
During a recent X-Day, students visited a tea shop to practice their Mandarin skills and to see a real-life example of what they have learned in class. At the shop, students were able to say “I want” in Mandarin after practicing this core sentence in class. After splitting up the students into two groups, one student would ask “What do you want?” and the other student would respond with the “I want” prompt.
The tea shop owner showed our students how to properly make the tea, and they even had a chance to drink low caffeine fruit tea. The students were also able to order dumplings in Chinese after looking around the tea shop and making observations. Kindergarteners viewed large containers, tea tools, and various other intriguing items. Upon returning to the classroom, students completed “operation drawings” to connect their tea shop learning to lessons that they had learned in the classroom.
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