Continuing our Spring Festival mini topic, we read The Runaway Rice Cake* by Ying Chang Compestine. It’s similar to various “gingerbread” stories like The Gingerbread Man, Gingerbread Cowboy, and Gingerbread Baby. There’s a hungry family, an item of food that runs away, the ensuing chase, and the inevitable outcome. I’m probably going to revisit this story, at a later date, for a compare and contrast exercise.
The Runaway Rice Cake centres around a Chinese family, and the story is set on Chinese New Year’s Eve. The Chang family participate in various customs, such as bribing the Kitchen God and preparing nian gao (rice cake). There’s a sweet moral about kindness and sharing. Several New Year traditions are mentioned in passing such as food (fish, noodles, oranges, etc), lion dancing, and new clothes. It’s a lovely picture book for reading aloud, and it gives a genuine flavour of the Chinese New Year. There’s also two nian gao recipes at the back of the book; I’m planning on trying the baked version this week. Wish me luck!
I’ve created some free worksheets, to accompany the book: you can download The Runaway Rice Cake Worksheets on TpT. My kids love word searches, so a lot of the worksheets I create involve word searches. There’s also a simple story sequencing and a multiple choice pop quiz. (They’re not particularly difficult but they’re great for catching out anyone who wasn’t paying attention. Yes, I am that mean!)
We also did a very simple KS1 book review worksheet, from Twinkl. (I love Twinkl; it’s so easy to print and go, for writing frames and other essential resources.) Technically, we’re KS2 but sometimes it’s easier to focus on the fun stuff. Today was more about discussing Chinese New Year than worrying about formal composition. In fact, I’m pondering whether adjusting work levels might encourage certain reluctant writers to be more open to increased written composition. Decisions, decisions…