The Year of the Horse begins on January 31st , 2014 and many families are excited about welcoming in the new Chinese New Year! Last year I did a piece on the Year of the Snake. This year I had someone request a blog on the Year of the Horse. I decided, “Well, why not”. I am the queen of gathering great learning and family fun ideas in a sort amount of time.
I have taken a vacation of sorts this last year and I know that for my readers, who use what I post, it has been a long dry spell. So for all of you, my friends, here is some rain, The Year of the Horse.
The Chinese Zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao in Chinese, is based on a twelve year cycle, each year in that cycle related to an animal sign. These animal signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. It is calculated according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar. The selection and order of the animals that influence people’s lives originated in the Han Dynasty (206 – 220) and is based upon each animal’s character and living habits.
The spirit of the horse is the spirit of the people of China. They are always trying to improve themselves. This spirit is energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able.
People born in the Year of the Horse have ingenious communicating techniques and in their community they always want to be in the limelight. They are clever, kind to others, and like to join in a venture career. Although they sometimes talk too much, they are cheerful, perceptive, talented, earthy but stubborn. They like entertainment and large crowds. They are popular among friends, active at work and refuse to be reconciled to failure.
Were you born in a Year of the Horse?
• 30th January 1930 – 16th February 1931
• 15th February 1942 – 4th February 1943
• 3rd February 1954 – 31st January 1955
• 21st January 1966 – 8th February 1967
• 7th February 1978 – 27th January 1979
• 27th January 1990 – 14th February 1991
• 12th February 2002 – 31st January 2003
• 31st January 2014 – 18th February 2015
What if you weren’t born in a year of the horse? You can find out what your animal is here.
I was born in the year of the Ox and my birthday on Chinese lunar calendar is Dec. 23, 1949.
Whenever there is a special event in the world, such as a holiday, it gives you a wonderful opportunity to create some special learning experiences for your children. In this case you could learn about the Chinese New Year itself and recreate the celebration in your home.
You could learn the difference between astronomy and astrology and there is a big difference.
You could study the country of China, the writing, the history, the culture, and the arts.
Since this is the year of the horse you have an opportunity to learn about horses.
Below you will find a raft of activities that you can share with your children, using your Spark Station, to interest and enthuse them to learn about horses. Take the next week or month, put books and materials about horses into your Spark Station and extend your learning of the Chinese New Year. Enjoy!
Chinese New Year-Year of the Horse Fun Facts
• Horses can sleep both lying down and standing up.
• Horses can run shortly after birth.
• Domestic horses have a lifespan of around 25 years.
• A 19th century horse named ‘Old Billy’ is said to have lived 62 years.
• Horses have around 205 bones in their skeleton.
• Horses have been domesticated for over 5000 years.
• Horses are herbivores (plant eaters).
• Horses have bigger eyes than any other mammal that lives on land.
• Because horse’s eyes are on the side of their head they are capable of seeing nearly 360 degrees at one time.
• Horses gallop at around 44 kph (27 mph).
• The fastest recorded sprinting speed of a horse was 88 kph (55 mph).
• Estimates suggest that there are around 60 million horses in the world.
• Scientists believe that horses have evolved over the past 50 million years from much smaller creatures.
• A male horse is called a stallion.
• A female horse is called a mare.
• A young male horse is called a colt.
• A young female horse is called a filly.
• Ponies are small horses.
Chinese New Year-Year of the Horse Books to Read
Put some good books into your Spark Station to get your children excited to learn more about horses.
1. Introduce Aesop’s Fables. Aesop used the horse to teach lessons about life. You can find these stories in any Aesop’s fables book. Here are two to get started.
The Horse, Hunter, and Stag
A quarrel had arisen between the Horse and the Stag, so the Horse came to a Hunter to ask his help to take revenge on the Stag. The Hunter agreed, but said: “If you desire to conquer the Stag, you must permit me to place this piece of iron between your jaws, so that I may guide you with these reins, and allow this saddle to be placed upon your back so that I may keep steady upon you as we follow after the enemy.” The Horse agreed to the conditions and the Hunter soon saddled and bridled him. Then with the aid of the Hunter the Horse soon overcame the Stag, and said to the Hunter: “Now, get off, and remove those things from my mouth and back.”
“Not so fast, friend,” said the Hunter. “I have now got you under bit and spur, and prefer to keep you as you are at present.”
Moral of Aesop’s Fable: If you allow men to use you for your own purposes, they will use you for theirs.
The Horse and the Ass
A Horse and an Ass were traveling together, the Horse prancing along in its fine trappings, the Ass carrying with difficulty the heavy weight in its panniers. “I wish I were you,” sighed the Ass; “nothing to do and well fed, and all that fine harness upon you.”
Next day, however, there was a great battle, and the Horse was wounded to death in the final charge of the day. His friend, the Ass, happened to pass by shortly afterwards and found him on the point of death. “I was wrong,” said the Ass.
Moral of Aesop’s Fable: Better humble security than gilded danger.
2. Read fictional stories about horses as a family:
• The Wild Little Horse by Ashley Wolff
• Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble
• All the Pretty Little Horses by Linda Saport
• The Horse Tamer (Black Stallion) by Walter Farley
• Black Beauty by Mary Sebag-Montefiore
• Black Beauty: The Autobiography of a Horse by Anna Sewell
• National Velvet by Enid Bagnold
• The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
• Girl on the High-Diving Horse by Linda Oatman High
• Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken DVD ~ Gabrielle Anwar
3. Read some non-fiction about horses: Discuss what the horses eat, where they live and the work they do.
• Horse Games & Puzzles for Kids: 102 Brainteasers, Word Games, Jokes & Riddles, Picture Puzzlers, Matches & Logic Tests for Horse-Loving Kids by Cindy A. Littlefield
• Wonderful World of Horses Coloring Book by John Green
• The Kids’ Horse Book by Sylvia Funston
• I Wonder Why Horses Wear Shoes by Jackie Gaff
• Horse Heroes: True Stories Of Amazing Horses by Kate Petty
• The True or False Book of Horses by Patricia Lauber Illustrated by Rosalyn Schanzer
4. Picture books about horses:
• Clip-Clop by Nicola Smee
• The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble
• Robert the Rose Horse by Joan Heilbroner
• Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman
• A Horse Story: Sami and Thomas meet Pascal by James McDonald
• Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse by Rebecca Janni
• Fritz and the Beautiful Horses by Jan Brett
• Scamper and the Horse Show by Jessie Haas
• Leonardo’s Horse by Jean Fritz
• Cowardly Clyde by Bill Peet
• Stable by Ted Lewin
• The Snake Who Wanted To Be A Horse by Valerie Harmon
• Facts About Horses: 50 Amazing Illustrated Facts for Kids by Amy Lyons
• The Island Horse by Susan Hughes
• Seabiscuit the Wonder Horse by Meghan Mccarthy
• The Horse in Harry’s Room by Syd Hoff
• Little Red Cowboy Hat by Susan Lowell
• Blackie, The Horse Who Stood Still by Christopher Cerf
• All the Pretty Little Horses by Linda Saport
• The Gift of the Sacred Dog by Paul Goble
• H is for Horse: An Equestrian Alphabet by Michael Ulmer
• Appaloosa Zebra: A Horse Lover’s Alphabet by Jessie Haas
• Magnus at the Fire by Jennifer Armstrong
Chinese New Year-Year of the Horse Games
1. Pin the tail on the horse (played like pin the tail on the donkey)
Pin the tail on the donkey is a game played by groups of children. It is common at birthday parties and other gatherings. A picture of a donkey with a missing tail is tacked to a wall within easy reach of children. One at a time, each child is blindfolded and handed a paper “tail” with a push pin or thumbtack poked through it. The blindfolded child is then spun around until he or she is disoriented. The child gropes around and tries to pin the tail on the donkey. The player who pins their tail closest to the target, the donkey’s rear, wins. The game, a group activity, is generally not competitive; “winning” is only of marginal importance. Have your children draw or paint the horse for this game on a large sheet of butcher paper.
2. Animal Charades
This is not just about horses but then there are more than horses in the Chinese Zodiac. This fun, old fashioned kid’s party game has kids imitating their favorite animals. Each player has a turn imitating an animal, while the other players try to guess the animal. The player that guesses takes a turn at portraying animals. This game has no prizes but continues on as long as the kids want to play. For a twist, how about a small prize for each correct guess?
3. Hobby Horse Race
To keep the fun going you could also run a hobby horse race. Many children have these toys but if not, give the kids a broom, mop, rake, and let them have a horse race. You can even have them dress up their “horse” using some ribbon or wool. Grab a paper bag, have them decorate the horse’s face and put it over the mop head.Make it interesting for them by creating a racecourse in your back yard, get them to run around the sandpit, under the trampoline use the garden hose to map out a course, give them something to jump over- get creative and it will be sure to keep the kids busy for a while. You will find a pattern for a paper bag hobby horse below.
Chinese New Year-Year of the Horse Crafts
The crafts below need very little direction. You can tell what to do by looking at the pictures. When needed brief directions are given.
1. These tube horses are made from painted toilet paper rolls. The legs and neck are pipe cleaners. From http://mrsgoffskinders.blogspot.co.uk/2013_04_01_archive.html
2. Stick Horses. Have your child make a horse head. You can use yardsticks, empty gift wrap rolls, or wooden or use wiggle eyes. dowels for the stick. Cut out two heads, decorate, add yarn or felt mane, stuff with crumpled paper or not, staple, add stick, viola! Now the kids are ready for stick horse races.
3. Clothes pin horse – Simple. Ribbon or yarn, clothes pin, felt and glue. Cute!
4. Paper Bag Horsie
To make this toy horse, you will need 1 broomstick, 2 paper bags, old newspapers, string, 2 pieces of brown crepe paper (1 piece 6″x12″ and 1 piece 8″x12″), crayons, 6 thumbtacks, glue, 24″ of lightweight rope, and scissors. Draw a horse’s face on the paper bag (see sketch a).
Cut two ears from the other paper bag (see sketch b). Glue these in place on the horse’s head. Stuff the paper bag with newspapers, allowing room for the broomstick to fit into the horse’s head. Tie bag securely to broomstick.
Fold the 6″x12″ piece of paper lengthwise and fringe for mane as shown in sketch c. Glue to horse’s head (sketch c) , then tack to broomstick any portion extending beyond paper bag. Fold the other piece of crepe paper and cut lengthwise (sketch d) to make the tail. Tack 12″ above end of broomstick, opposite head. Attach rope for reins.
5. Rocking Horse
This craft is to make a paper rocking horse that really works. Paste it on cardboard or make a copy of it and then trace your pattern on a sheet of lightweight cardboard. Cut out. Fold the cut-out double horse in half so that the 2 sides match. Fasten the 2 sides of the horse’s back together with a paper clip. Bend the base up between the rounded ends of the rockers. Give the small rocking horse a gentle push. It will start rocking back and forth. Download a template here. From http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/horsescraftsideasactivitieskids.html
Chinese New Year-Year of the Horse Activities
1. Visit a nearby farm or petting zoo to see some horses
3. Watch a video about horses
4. Watch “Miracle of the White Stallions” by Disney. I saw it as a young child and I loved it! (Vienna’s famed Spanish Riding School – and its prized Lipizzan stallions – is threatened by devastating bombing raids and indifferent Nazi commanders. Despite the dangers involved in evacuating the magnificent animals, the school’s director and a handful of heroic citizens attempt a daring, life-threatening plan to move the stallions away from the ravages of war and keep the historic breed alive.)
Chinese New Year-Year of the Horse Food
1. For a family lunch serve apples, “happy trails” mix and carrots for the hungry-as-horses kids. Also serve chips and sandwiches. (See the cute horse sandwiches below) For happy trails mix just mi together dried fruit, seeds, nuts and small chocolate candies.
2. Three Horse Sandwiches
What You’ll Need:
1 sandwich, any kind
The pictures should give you all the directions that you need. : )
Chinese New Year-Year of the Horse Riddles and Songs
Thirty white horses on a red hill,
First they champ,
Then they stamp,
Then they stand still.
Two Horses: a riddle tale
There was once a queen who had two sons. When she grew old and close to death she sent for her sons. “I want you to ride your horses to Jerusalem. The one whose horse arrives last will inherit everything I own.”
The two princes mounted their horses. But, since each knew his horse had to arrive last if he was to win, both sons rode as slowly as they possibly could. One was forever trying to lag behind the other. When they finally reached the outskirts of Jerusalem, both sons stopped. Neither dared go a step closer for fear of getting there first and thus letting the other arrive last and inherit the kingdom.
They sat for a day, then two. They sat for a week and began to feel as if they’d spent the rest of their lives sitting at the edge of Jerusalem with nothing to their names. Then, suddenly, both sons had the same idea. They each jumped on a horse and rode to Jerusalem as fast as they could go. What made them change their minds and find a way to end the competition?
Answer: Each jumped on his brother’s horse to finish the race. If one could ride the other’s horse to the city first, it would mean that his own horse would arrive last and he would inherit the kingdom. From http://saintsandspinners.blogspot.com/2005/04/two-horses-riddle-tale.html
Short horse poems:
I bless the hoss from hoof to head –
From head to hoof, and tale to mane! –
I bless the hoss, as I have said,
From head to hoof, and back again!
~James Whitcomb Riley
The horses paw and prance and neigh,
Fillies and colts like kittens play,
And dance and toss their rippled manes
Shining and soft as silken skeins;…
~Oliver Wendell Holmes
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