Feb 14

Chinese Lantern Festival

Every year, on February 11th, the Chinese Lantern Festival marks the end of the New Year period with a beautiful celebration of lights. Symbolically, it is the first full moon of the Chinese calendar, which symbolizes two things: the reunion of family and the beginning of Spring.

This 2,000 year old tradition is a unifying force among those who participate, though traditions differ regionally. The most popular form of celebrating, however, is lighting and releasing lanterns with friends and family. It has become increasingly popular in the United States, which hosts Lantern festivals nationwide to celebrate.

[Photos © beijingholiday.com & historicphiladelphia.com]

How can I celebrate?

The Chinese Lantern Festival is a beautiful celebration of lights and more traditional elements, like flowers and dragons lining the streets with music and lion dances. But, aside from this, there are other fun activities that are constant in the festivals that you can do from home!

Guessing Lantern Riddles

In modern times people prepare the riddles and see if the children can solve it; if they know the answer the child writes the answer on the lantern. If you get the answer right, you win a prize! Also, children can write their own wish on a lantern and then release the lantern so it floats to the sky with their wish!

Here is a link for you to create your own paper lanterns, so try writing out riddles and seeing if your child can guess the answer!

Preparing Tangyuan

Lastly, preparing tangyuan is a classic element of the Chinese Lantern Festival. These are round, solid dumplings usually served in a sweet soup and are widely prepared throughout the festival. The round shape symbolizes unity and togetherness, both in family and in prosperity of the new year. To learn how to make your own tangyuan, see this recipe!

Releasing Lanterns

Of course, the most trademark tradition of the festival is releasing the lanterns into the sky in a show of optimism for the new year. No lantern is the same -- they come in shapes like dragons, or fish, or other animals, along with the traditional globes. Children often illuminate the streets and sidewalks with smaller, hand-held lanterns.

This year, there are large celebrations in New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, Columbus, OH, and Fairfax, VA -- but even if you can’t make it, we highly recommend making your own paper lanterns and preparing tangyuan for your family.

Happy New Year!

Feb 14

Making Paper Lanterns

Follow our step-by-step instructions to make colorful paper lanterns for your home this holiday season! Not only are they fun and easy to make, you can use them to celebrate the Chinese Lantern Festival.

Step 1: Take a piece of paper, and fold it in half lengthwise.

We recommend colorful construction paper, because of its durability and color possibilities.

Step 2: Cut 1 to 2 inch-long slits about one inch apart along the folded paper.

This will act as the filter the light will shine through. The longer the slits, the more floppy the lantern will be.

Step 3: Fold the two ends together so that it forms a tube, and staple together

We recommend that the parents complete this step, especially if your children are on the younger side. Staple the top and bottom of the tube, so that the lantern shape takes form.

Step 4: Make a handle

Take a thin strip of the same (or new!) construction paper, stapling it to the sides of the top of the lantern. Try out different paper to add colorful dimensions to your lantern.

Step 5: Add light!

Use a long electric candle inside your paper lantern by fitting it through the bottom. Make sure to turn it off after extended periods of time.

There you have it! We hope you enjoy this easy, fun way of making paper lanterns. If you have pictures you would like to show us, don’t hesitate to post them to our Facebook page.

Feb 07

Celebrating Mozart

Author: Dana Matthews

We had so much fun celebrating Mozart’s birthday in fantastic style! One of our Jump! parents is an accomplished pianist and amazing piano teacher! To celebrate Mozart’s 261st birthday she came to the school to showcase Mozart’s talent. The students were mesmerized with her playing ability and were astonished to find out that Mozart created his first composition at age five!

It was so cute to see all the students get excited about classical music! Our Kindergartners and First Graders were inspired and now want to compose their own music. Who knows, this event might encourage our next great pianist, violinist and/or composer!

Watch this video for a child friendly version of Mozart’s life, courtesy of Free School; this may inspire your child to compose or play classical piano and/or violin!

Mozart for Children: Biography for kids - FreeSchool

Feb 01

Día de la Candelaria or "Candlemas"

On February 2nd, Mexico will celebrate la Día de la Candelaria, sometimes known as “Candlemas.” This religious and family holiday is a month-long celebration, filled with parades, religious blessings, and of course, feasting on traditional tamales throughout.

[Photos © Manzanillo.com, garuyo.com]

In fact, the celebrations begin exactly on January 6th, Three Kings Day. Throughout Latin America, it is customary to prepare and eat Rosca de Reyes, a sweet bread with a small figurine of a baby (to represent Christ) hidden inside. Whoever finds the figurine hosts the Candlemas feast -- and makes all the tamales, a traditional Mesoamerican dish, for their family!

But, Día de la Candelaria isn’t only about food -- it’s a religious celebration to commemorate the rise of Jesus Christ, since January 2nd represents the day Jesus was presented in Church, exactly 40 days after he was born. At that time, Mary presented Jesus with an abundance of candles (“candelas”) to God.

During this period, it is customary to dress a figurine of Baby Jesus and present him to the Church, just as Mary and Joseph had. Traditionally, the Baby Jesus is dress in white to represent purity and divinity. Baby Jesus, along with candles, are brought to the Church to pay homage to the recognition of Jesus Christ -- followed by the “tamalada” feast. This includes tamales and the sweet traditional drinks, atole de pinole and champurrado (thick hot chocolate).

So, if you and your family want to celebrate Día de la Candelaria this February (religiously or not), try hosting your own tamalade! Here, you can find recipes for traditional tamales, atole de pinole, and champurrado.

[Photos © saltaandwind.com]

Make sure to send pictures to our Facebook page -- we can’t wait to see what you try!

Feliz Día de la Candelaria!

Dec 19

Winter Solstice Festival (DongZhi)

The Winter Solstice Festival, or DongZhi Festival, is finally approaching! From December 21st through the 23rd, one of China’s most popular celebrations will take place. Widely regarded as a family-oriented time of year, the Winter Solstice Festival is a time to spend time with loved ones, eat traditional foods, and celebrate family unity.

If you have never celebrated the Winter Solstice Festival, we encourage you to do so by following fun (and easy!) traditions this December.

1. Stock up on dumplings

In Northern China, it is customary to eat dumplings during the Winter Solstice. These include a wide variety, ranging from soup dumplings to wontons. To learn more about recipes, read our blog about traditional Chinese cuisine.

2. Prepare TangYuan with your family

In Southern China, however, it is customary to prepare TangYuan, glutinous rice flour balls. They are often colorful and placed in a savory broth. In fact, preparing and eating TangYuan is a symbolization for reunion. For the recipe, visit Instructables, Tangyuan (Glutinous rice dumplings in sweet soup)»

Dec 12

Latin Foods to Make During the Holidays

Last month, we gave our top three Chinese dishes to include in your Thanksgiving feast. This December, we encourage you to add something from Latin America to your holiday dinner!

#1  Buñuelos

Since this is a widespread traditional treat, each country will have a different version of it. Buñuelos are fried balls of dough, sometimes with cheese in the center. When made correctly, they’re flaky, crispy, and absolutely delicious! For the recipe for Colombian buñuelos, visit:
Buñuelos Colombianos on My Colombian Recipes»

#2  Lechon Asado

Instead of ham or turkey this Christmas Eve, try out a Lechon Asado. Lechon, or roasted pork, is a staple for Latino households everywhere. The most famous modification of the Lechon is from Cuba, which includes cumin and oregano. To truly compliment the lechon, we recommend making tostones (fried plantations) and congri (rice and black beans mixed together).

For easy to follow instructions, visit: Cuban Lechon Asado on Traeger Grills Recipes»

#3  Tres Leches

You’ve heard of flan, but why not try something different this holiday season? Tres Leches Cake is a tried and true favorite in Latin America, from Chile all the way to Mexico. It’s a sponge cake that has been soaked in three types of milk: condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream.

For more information,see this recipe: Tres Leches on AllRecipes.com»

There you have it, those are the most classic holiday dishes in Latin America from appetizer to dessert! To learn more about traditional Chinese cuisine, click here.

Buena suerte!

Nov 08

Chinese Foods To Try For Thanksgiving

Now that Thanksgiving is approaching, you might be looking for your new lineup. You have the classic turkey, potatoes, and stuffing, but why not try something new?

Here, we’ve compiled a list of our Top 3 delicious Chinese foods to try out this month!

[Photo: Shao Z., Chinese Hot Pot / Serious Eats]

#1  Peking Duck

Substitute your turkey for a Chinese favorite -- Peking-style duck! All you need is soy sauce, honey, and ginger to make the sauce. The rest is easy! If you’re interested, check out this recipe:
Peking Duck on Allrecipes.com»

#2  Xiao Long Bao

Instead of garlic bread, try making authentic Shanghai soup dumplings. The dumplings are filled with steaming broth. It’s best eaten with a Chinese soup spoon and a delicate hand as to not pierce the outside. Check out this recipe:
Shanghai Soup Dumpling on Epicurious»

#3  Hot Pot

We saved the best for last -- hot pot is a widespread Asian dining experience. A simmering pot of boiling water is placed at the center of the table with smaller dishes of thinly sliced raw meat, fish, and vegetables around it. With chopsticks, choose your meal and cook it in the hot pot until it’s fully browned. It’s fun, easy, and delicious! For more information, see this recipe:
Chinese Hot Pot on SeriousEats.com»

If you choose any (or all) of these three recipes, make sure to let us know by posting on our Facebook page.

Good luck!

Oct 13

Jump! Immersion School Attends the 53rd Annual Metuchen County Fair

Jump! Immersion School participated in the 53rd Annual Metuchen County Fair! This year’s Fair theme was "Classic Television". Several vendors and local businesses attended the fair.

The fair was a step back into old TV time featuring tributes to shows like Batman & Robin, The Love Boat, Gilligan’s Island, Happy Days, and the most popular was I Love Lucy! Okay, we love Lucy too! The Jump! booth featured I Love Lucy as well. Why? Did you know that Desi Arnaz who played Ricky Ricardo was born in Cuba? Desi Arnaz used his Cuban heritage to forge new ground to expose the U.S. to Cuban-influenced music and dance. Our founder, Jackie Sanin, is also from Cuba! We featured our favorite episode of I Love Lucy: the one where Lucy and Ethel work at a chocolate factory and realize it's a much harder job then they anticipated!

We had a wonderful time meeting new friends and connecting with some old acquaintances. It was a great "Learning Moment" to find out how well our former students are doing with Spanish. It was also exciting to talk to a parent who thanked us for their son’s Spanish-speaking ability, how he is performing well in A.P. Spanish, and preparing to graduate from high school!

It was great to hear from our past families and we look forward to meeting many new Metuchen families in the near future!

Aug 18

Learning a New Language Improves Cultural Intelligence

This article demonstrates the importance of speaking an additional language from the prospective of communication in the workplace.

However, why not start your child in an immersion program so that they learn to effectively communicate with other cultures and be able to relate to others at an early age? They will continue to reap the benefits of communication and relationship building throughout their childhood and can be more successful in life!

Read the full article on Inc.com:
Learning a New Language Might Improve "Cultural Intelligence"»

Apr 12

Chinese as a Second Language Growing in Popularity

There has been a significant growth in the number of people learning Mandarin... especially children! Read the full article at the CCTV America website: Chinese as a Second Language Growing in Popularity»

Learn more about the Mandarin Programs at Jump!:

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