IPA Students Celebrate the Moon Festival in Mandarin Class

This Wednesday, October 4, 2017 is the Chinese Moon Festival, and the Grade 5 students learned all about it in their Mandarin class this morning. Special guest speaker Ms. Ting Shao, a Mandarin teacher and Director of the Chinese Language Learning Center, visited Ms. Rao’s Grade 5 classes to share with them the cultural significance and the legends of the Moon Festival. Also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, it is celebrated on the eighth full moon of the lunar year.

Ms. Rao related the Moon Festival to an American holiday the students are familiar with – Thanksgiving. The Mid-Autumn Festival is the equivalent of Thanksgiving Day and its origins go back to ancient times, when people would get together on the 15th day of the 8th moon (around September or October in our calendar) on a day of thanksgiving for a good rice harvest. This is the time when crops and fruits are at their best and the weather is pleasant. On this night, the moon is at its brightest, and friends and family reunite to appreciate the beautiful full moon and each other. The round shape and completeness of the full moon symbolize reunited pieces that form a whole.

Teacher at the whiteboard.

Ms. Rao teaches the Grade 5 students how to say “Mid-Autumn Festival” in Mandarin.

Students raising hands.

Grade 5 students are eager to share their stories about the moon.


It is a tradition to eat Chinese mooncakes on this day. As part of a hands-on experience for the students, Ms. Rao and Ms. Shao brought boxes of moon cakes from Chinatown for the students to sample. The mooncakes are small, baked cakes eaten with the fingers during the Festival. They are made with a whole egg yolk in the center, symbolizing the full moon, and come with a variety of fillings. The most popular ones are made from red bean paste, lotus seeds, fruits, and sometimes even meat. The cakes are typically round, like the full moon, and are usually eaten in small wedges accompanied by tea. Ms. Rao cut each each moon cake into wedges and the students had a chance to try the different flavors.

Ms. Shao also made up some moon cake dough of different “flavors”, and the students were able to experience making their own sample moon cakes using special wooden molds she brought with her.

This is the first year in which Mandarin is being offered as a world language for the elementary students, and they are learning a lot about the culture and traditions of China, as well as the language.


Box of moon cakes.

A box of Moon Cakes to celebrate the Moon Festival.

Mandarin teachers with group of students.

Ms. Rao and guest speaker Ms. Shao brought in boxes of moon cakes for the students to try.

Mandarin teacher with students.

Ms. Shao hands out samples of dough for the students to try their hand at making moon cakes.

Student hands pressing dough into wooden molds.

A couple of 5th graders press dough into wooden molds to make moon cakes.

Mandarin teacher smiling with students.

Grade 5 students have fun making moon cakes.

Mandarin teacher handing out dough for moon cakes.

Every student had a chance to try making moon cakes.

Mandarin teacher passing out moon cake samples.

Ms. Rao passes out moon cake samples to the students.