University of Vermont

St. Johnsbury Students Learn About Dragons in the Year of the Dragon

Second grade students learn about dragons in a special workshop

Gerry Gatz holding samples of the dragon that students will make during the workshop

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2012 is the year of the Dragon, the dragon being the most powerful sign in the Chinese zodiac. While cities across the world are preparing for the start of the Chinese New Year that falls on Monday, January 23rd, second grade students in Mrs. Maire’s class at St. Johnsbury got a head start on the celebrations with a dragon workshop with ASOP Curriculum Coordinator Gerry Gatz.

The workshop was the final project in a week-long program that brought students in contact with various aspects of Chinese culture, including food, folklores, and a 40-foot dragon puppet that sat in front of the classroom. Students, in their thank you notes to Gerry Gatz, shared their excitement about learning about a new culture and dragons.

“Thank you for coming to our class and helping us make the dragon puppets!” wrote one student to Gerry following the workshop. The workshop included a story about dragons and the zodiac calendar, and the chance to create colorful moving dragons on their own.

“The Dragon Workshop can be adapted to students of all ages,” explained Gerry Gatz. “Students are always interested in learning about how perceptions and symbolism of dragons in our western culture differs from the symbolism of dragons in eastern cultures.”

Mrs. Maire was happy to bring the workshop to her classroom, and has a special interest in sharing Asian culture and history with her students. In the summer of 2011, Mrs. Maire and nine other Vermont teachers traveled to China for a three-week program on Chinese culture, history and art through one of the Asian Studies Outreach Program’s overseas program. All teachers that participated in the program this past summer have been including lessons on China into their curriulcum.