Happy Chinese New Year!


We have been away from Hold the MSG for a while, but we’re back with a bang today with our first cultural episode, teaching the traditions of the Chinese New Year, otherwise known as the Spring Festival. This year, Chinese New Year begins on February 9th.

We didn’t prepare a worksheet for the characters and vocabulary for this lesson, since the focus is on culture, but if you’re a homeschooler and want to turn this into a unit study, please note the following links:

Chinese New Year Study

Chinese New Year Coloring Pages

Chinese New Year Study Resources (book suggestions, video, very comprehensive. This squidoo lens is highly recommended, as it was written by Jimmie, the Notebooking Fairy, who also lived as an expat in China)

Chinese New Year Lapbooking Resources (includes book suggestions to accompany the unit

Chinese New Year Lapbook suggestions (with book suggestions, printables and lots of pictures!)

Here is the recipe for jiǎo zì, as promised:

Chinese Dumplings

Dumpling “Skins”

  • 1 cup dumpling flour from your local Chinese shop OR plain flour
  • ¼ cup water
  • A pinch of salt


  • 50 dumpling skins
  • 1 lb. ground meat (pork, chicken, beef or lamb)
  • cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ tablespoon ginger, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper powder
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons green onion
  • 2 tablespoons celery, finely chopped (optional)
  • bowl cold water



Combine flour, salt and water and mix. Knead until shiny and elastic for 10 minutes. Add more water or flour until you reach a consistency that is firm without being too wet.

Cover in plastic wrap or put in a plastic bag for 30 minutes in the fridge. Roll the wrappers by pulling off little balls and rolling until thin, about as thin as pasta, and about three inches (7.5 centimeters) in diameter.

Brush the edges of the wrappers lightly with water (With store-bought wrappers, this is a necessary step, but can often be skipped with freshly-made ones.) Place a teaspoon of filling in the centre and fold in a half moon shape. Press closed ensuring they are sealed.

Boil until wrapping is plump and dumplings float to the top of the water (check one for doneness).


Combine all ingredients.


Lesson Six: What Country Are You From?


This week, after a bit of a break, we are back and learning how to answer another much-asked question: What country are you from?

To answer that question, we’ll learn how to say the names of these countries:

  • Canada
  • China
  • America
  • England
  • France
  • Germany

If your country isn’t listed, drop us a line using the “contact” button above, and we’ll do a lesson add-on with your country  name.

If you want to print out the cool flags of the world colouring sheets we used in this lesson, please visit this link.

And don’t forget to pick up the handout that goes along with this lesson. It will teach you the stroke order for writing the Chinese characters we use this week and give you a chance to practice writing for yourself.


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Until next week, zài jiàn!

- Carey Clark

Word of the Week

This week’s new word is 麻烦 má fan meaning, “inconvenient; troublesome; annoying; to trouble or bother somebody; to put somebody to trouble.“

We have been dealing with some issues with our visas and residency permits. This has kept us very busy and we haven’t had time to post. 

The good news is, the problems are on their way to being completely solved and we now have permits for the next few months.

We’ll be back and posting again by next week. Thanks for your patience.

- Carey Clark