Song of the Month

Every month the song/dance/activity will change. Many of the songs will be from my Recordings. Please print the page and do the activity with your child. Teachers may print the page to use with their classes. If you have questions, Contact Me.

February 2010

Gung Hay Fat Choy

by Nancy Stewart © 2003

Listen to it on Nancy Stwart's website, or hear it here:

This year I tried introducing my 4 and 5 year olds to Chinese New Year, which begins on February 14, 2010, and lasts for 2 weeks. It follows the Lunar Calendar, so you'll have to check the date in future years. I was introduced to this delightful song through The Children's Music Network,, which is a wonderful resource for sharing music and ideas about children's music (I'm on the Board of Directors, so of course I believe it's a worthwhile organization - check it out!)

(photo)Author Nancy Stewart's gentle and informative song can be done with scarves for a theatrical and enthralling effect. First, I teach the children to take a corner point of their scarves and weave it in and out their fingers, starting at the thumb/pointer opening. This way the scarf stays in their hand while they're doing the graceful motions. Every class has exited my class singing the song after just one hearing! A big thanks to Nancy for allowing me to share it with you – AND for her generous spirit! You can download this song for FREE at Nancy's website:, and hear it in both an instrumental version and with her lovely vocals (my favorite!) Nancy also provides notes for movements, which are different from mine, as well as links to great websites about Chinese New Year. Sheet music is also available!

LYRICS and Miss Carole's MOVEMENTS:

(keep a rhythm patting hands together then one hand up, pat,then the other - we clap on "Hay" and "Happy")
Gung Hay Fat Choy, Gung Hay Fat Choy
Sing Happy New Year, Gung Hay Fat Choy

1. The new moon tells us, exactly when
    To celebrate with family and friends
(we put hands together in front of our chest and say "Ni How!" (hello - KNEE how) to 3 friends with a little bow)

2. Clean up the house and get out the broom
    Sweep out the old year, bring in the new
(pretend to sweep with scarf - both hands together)

3. Bring out the apples, the oranges too
    Their colors bring us joy and good luck too
(hold hands in front, palms up, and lift them alternately up and down, as if holding the fruit)

4. The dragon dances, the lanterns light
    The firecrackers light up the night
(put each hand by ears, as if holding a dragon head, and weave around other dragon dancers!)

When introducing this activity, I first talked about OUR new year – what did the children do to celebrate, what year is it now, and if their family has New Year traditions? I had posted 4 papers, each with a word: Gung Hay Fat Choy, and taught the children how to say Happy New Year in Chinese (as it looks, with they exception of FAT – that's a clipped "T" on the end, and more like FUT than a broad American "A").

I told the children about the year's having an animal symbol – we will begin the Year of the Tiger on Feb 14, and showed them pictures of the Chinese writing for "Tiger", which I printed from one of the links on Nancy Stewart's website! We talked about holidays when children get presents (my students came up with Christmas, Hannukah, birthdays) and that Chinese children get "lucky money" in red envelopes. And we discussed the ideas mentioned in the song's lyrics: cleaning the house, apples and oranges as symbols of wealth and luck, and the Dragon Dance. Here are some books you may find helpful, too:

Dragon Dance by Joan Holub – with windows to reveal traditions! available on Amazon for $6.99! My favorite! Nice wheel of years and animals, and how to make a dragon puppet.

The Dancing Dragon by Marcia Vaughan – book unfolds to make a 6' dragon - more expensive!

Lanterns and Firecrackers by Jonny Zucker – very simple, with nice info about the celebration at the end.

PROPS: For my movements, you'll need scarves. I use solid color scarves from But any scarves will work!

AGE RANGE: Older 3's - 7 year olds

PURPOSE: Exposure to another culture with a non-religion based activity, movement and social interaction.

Carole's promise: I hope to have a video of my students doing this song soon – but it takes a while to get necessary permission and then photograph it, so for the moment you'll have to imagine it – and do it your own way. Check back at the end of the month – I hope to have it by then!  

Mrs. Tracey's 4-year old class at St. David's Nursery School in Glenview, IL made this
great dragon head – and even got it perched nicely on the piano to connect visually with
the rest of the dragon on the wall!

More Songs of the Month