Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Celebrating Chinese New Year with Kids (#ourforbiddencity, #HiLittleEmperor, #giveaway)

The Chinese New Year starts on February 19! It will be the year of the sheep. So let's start of the new year with some fun by making dumplings, reading some fun and educational books, and doing some fun activities found at http://www.walfc.org/play/activities/

1) Make dumplings 
Recipe provided by China Institute

Dumplings, called jiaozi in Mandarin, have been popular in China for hundreds of years. They’re especially popular on Chinese New Year. What better way to celebrate than to make your own dumplings! The recipe below is for a traditional pork and chive filling, but the great thing about dumplings is that you can make all
sorts of different fillings.


Dumpling (jiaozi) Dough: 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Pork & Chive Filling: 
  • 1 cup ground pork (can also use beef) 
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper 
  • 3 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 green onion, finely minced 
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage 
  • 4 Tablespoons shredded bamboo shoots 
  • 2 slices fresh ginger finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced 


Stir the salt into the flour. Slowly stir in the cold water, adding as much as is necessary to create a smooth dough. Don't add more water than is necessary. Knead the dough into a smooth ball. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, prepare the filling ingredients. Add the soy sauce, salt, rice wine, and white pepper to the meat, stirring in one direction. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring in the same direction, and mix well. 
Now, prepare the dough for the dumplings. First knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 60 pieces. Roll each piece out into a circle about 3-inches in diameter to create the dumpling wrappers. 
Place a portion (about 1 Tablespoon) of the filling into the middle of each dumpling wrapper. Wet the edges of the dumpling with water. Fold the dough over the filling into a half moon shape and pinch the edges to seal. Continue with the remainder of the dumpling wrappers. 
To cook the dumplings, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add half the dumplings, giving them a gentle stir so they don't stick together. Bring the water to a boil, and add 1/2 cup of cold water. Cover and repeat. When the dumplings come to a boil for a third time, they are ready. Drain and remove. If you want, they can be pan-fried at this point. Repeat this process for the second half of dumplings.

Note: I'm going to do make dumplings this weekend with my family since my husband will be home. I will let you know how they turn out. I can't wait since I am really craving them right now.

2) Read some Chinese books

This is the Greatest Place!
ages 5-9
Created by internationally renowned children’s book artists Brian Tse and Alice Mak, the book teaches children about Chinese architecture, how nature’s influence can be seen around us, and
how people and animals can live together in harmony. The illustrations capture the majesty of both the natural world and the Forbidden City and are enhanced by interactive components for readers, including a gatefold spread and lift-flaps. 
Tse and Mak are well known for their heartwarming and educational stories for children. They are the creators of the iconic cartoon characters McMug and McDull, who have been featured in numerous award-winning works including books, comics, television shows, and movies.

In The Forbidden City
ages 9+
Accompanied by a mischievous cat, readers will tour this colossal architectural structure, discovering the secrets hidden inside the palace walls. They will encounter the people who have walked through its halls and gardens, including emperors, empresses, and rebel leaders, and
hear exciting tales about the power struggles and intrigues of everyday life.
This large format book conveys the grandeur of the Forbidden City through highly detailed line drawings of its buildings, gardens, and courtyards with numerous foldout spreads. Each page is populated by a large variety of characters and peppered with entertaining anecdotes. Every book includes a plastic magnifying glass for looking at the drawings more closely. 
Creator Chiu Kwong-chiu is an artist, designer, and professor who explores Chinese traditional visual arts along with adopting groundbreaking ways to interpret and promote Chinese art and culture.

My thoughts

I absolutely loved educational books. I love learning about various topics, and I really want my children to be the same way. I try to have a lot of books on my kids' bookshelves that are fun and educational at the same time. And, This is the Greatest Place and In the Forbidden City are definitely books that you want.

This is the Greatest Place is perfect for the younger children who need to have more colorful illustrations and a captivating story to hold their attention. The story is about some animal friends (rabbit, squirrel, panda, and porcupine) who meet a master builder. The master builder is looking for inspiration for the design of the Emperor's palace. The story goes through and explains how nature holds so much inspiration.

Monkey really loved this book because there were lots of animals and lots of action. He loved the journey that the animals and the master builder went on. And, of course, he loved the lift-flaps. Although it is recommended for children to be at least age 5, Monkey (age 4) was able to enjoy the book and had no problems with it.

lift-flaps: my kiddos loved them

In The Forbidden City is designed for older children who want to take an in depth approach to learning about the Forbidden City and the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. You will learn about symbols, buildings, ceremonies, courtyards, gardens, people, and much more.

detailed illustrations
lots of fold out pages!

I got this book for myself so I can learn more about the Forbidden City and discover all the secrets that are found in its walls. I didn't let my kiddos look at it because they are at the age (4, 2) where even though they try to be careful with books, there are a lot of "accidents". But, this book will be great for anyone who 9 and older.

I really loved the included magnifying glass at the end of the book so you can take a closer look at the very detailed illustrations. It was fun because you can be more like a detective. I know once Monkey gets a little older, he will love this book.

3) Enter to win one of the above mentioned books

*This is going to be a super easy giveaway.
*Mandatory entry is to comment on this post by answering the question provided in giveaway tools and then you will a couple of optional tasks like visiting a Facebook page and tweeting. And that's it!
*Open to anyone who is 18+ who lives in USA or Canada
*Winner has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen

*Disclosure: I received the products mentioned in this post at no cost in order to do this review. All opinions are my own.


  1. Because my girls are older I would choose In The Forbidden City. It looks fantastic.

  2. I think The Forbidden City would be amazing for my oldest son!

  3. I would pick This Is The Greatest Place. My daughter is younger & <3 s animals.

  4. I would pickThe Forbidden City because it sounds very interesting.

  5. I'd pick This is the Greatest Place because it looks adorable.