Going Out, Montessori Style: Dragon Boat Festival Experiences and Activities
Another story of dragon boat racing took place during the Warring States period (fourth century BCE). This was a time of alliances and change. Qu Yuan, a popular poet of the people, was banished by the king. Qu Yuan jumped into the river holding a heavy rock. The people tried to save Qu Yuan by beating drums and splashing their oars from their fishing boats. They were attempting to protect him from the fish and water dragons, which are believed to reside in the ocean.
Today, dragon boat racing still incorporates ancient legends and rituals. It is held near the summer solstice, and it honors the dragon. It incorporates competition and multi-colored boats decorated like dragons. Taoist priests often bless the race with a ritual called “awakening of the dragons.” It is a strong team-building sport that can involve the participation of people of all ages. Many philanthropic groups create racing teams to promote friendship and support for a cause, such as breast cancer.
Today, Vancouver’s Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival is the biggest in North America. More than 180 dragon boat teams from around the world come to compete and over 90,000 people come as spectators. Dragon boat festivals take place in 60 countries with some 50 million participants worldwide.
Dragon Boat Festival Activities for the Montessori Classroom and Home
- Research local and regional dragon boat festivals and take a class field trip or family road trip.
- Enter the kids’ division of a local dragon boat festival, if possible.
- Make small dragon boats and race them on a pond.
- As a class or a family, make zongzi and other traditional foods.
Zonzgi is a Chinese rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves that is associated with the Dragon Boat Festival, and the story of Qu Yuan.
Dragon Boat Festival Books
- Chinese Festivals-Celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival, by Sanmu Tang
- Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes, by Nina Simonds, Leslie Swartz, The Children's Museum Boston, and Meilo So
- Red Eggs and Dragon Boats: Celebrating Chinese Festivals, by Carol Stepanchuk
- The Mermaid's Muse: The Legend of the Dragon Boats (Chinese Legends Trilogy), by David Bouchard and Zhong-Yang Huang
- Awakening the Dragon: The Dragon Boat Festival, by Arlene Chan and Song Nan Zhang
- Dragon Boat Racing in Canada Paddles Up! by Arlene Chan and Susan Humphries
- Dragon Boats: A Celebration, by Pat Barker
- Dragon Boat BC
- Chinese Culture – Dragon Boat Festival
- Zongzi Bamboo Wrapped Dumplings
- Dragon Boat Canada
- Dragon Boat Festival – Lesson Plan
- The Dragon Boat – History & Culture
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, June 23, 2009.