IT’S not every day schoolchildren get to dress up as dragons, make lanterns and eat lunch with chopsticks.
But Chinese New Year was the perfect excuse for schools to teach youngsters about the country’s food, people and culture.
Pupils at Cottage Grove Primary School in Southsea made dragon and lion costumes, played Chinese trading games and learned about Chinese numbers.
Year 6 teacher Anna Forrester said: ‘We’ve been embracing a whole range of Chinese activities in maths, history and geography.
‘They also got to enjoy a traditional Chinese meal with chopsticks.
‘Everybody had a go.’
Year 6 pupil Brandon Jordan, 10, from Eastney, said he enjoyed learning about the Chinese zodiac.
He said: ‘There are different animals for different years and they all symbolise something.
‘My animal is the monkey. It’s mischievous, clever and a good friend.’
Classmate Macy Hay, 10, of Southsea, said: ‘The animals were picked because they were the first to go across a river, and they went into the lunar calendar.’
Headteacher Polly Honeychurch said: ‘As a multicultural school we recognise that children come from different cultures and even though we’re in Portsmouth, we can celebrate other parts of the world.’
At Purbrook Junior School, Year 6 pupils put on a parade with four Chinese dragons they had made in class.
The playground filled with colour and noise as the children guided the mythical creatures about to the sound of banging drums.
The whole school came out to cheer the groups on and wave posters celebrating the new year.
Teacher Lacey Yates said: ‘All the children have loved making them.
‘They have all really got involved and even sent out invitations for people come and watch them.’
Headteacher Craig Williams said: ‘It is nice to see that the children are engaged about different cultures and that their understanding of Chinese New Year will go forward with them for the rest of their lives.’
Teacher Rob Turner said: ‘Due to the new national curriculum we have to teach the children about the culture in China.
‘They have really embraced it.’
Chinese New Year takes place on Thursday, February 19 and marks the Year of the Goat.
(Additional reporting by Sophie Day)