Tuesday, January 5

Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn

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Gong Hey Fat Choy!

Chinese New Year is here! During Chinese New Year it is custom for parents and grandparents to give lai see (also spelled leisees) to children in their families. Lai see... also known as lucky envelopes or lucky money. . . are small, red envelopes that contain a sum of money. People give these envelopes to other people to wish them good luck and prosperity throughout the upcoming year.

Learn about Chinese New Year, lai see (leisees), and the importance of caring for one another when you read Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn.

This is an updated version of a blog post I wrote in 2017.
Disclosure: Affiliate links to Amazon are included in this post.

Author's Summary

During Chinese New Year, a young boy encounters a homeless person and discovers that no gift is too small when it comes from the heart. Sam can hardly wait to go shopping with his mom. It's Chinese New Year's day and his grandparents have given him the traditional gift of lucky money-red envelopes called leisees (lay-sees). This year Sam is finally old enough to spend it any way he chooses. Best of all, he gets to spend his lucky money in his favorite place - Chinatown!

๐ŸŽ Title: Sam and the Lucky Money
๐ŸŽ Author: Karen Chinn
๐ŸŽ Illustrators: Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu
๐ŸŽ Publisher: Lee & Low Books
๐ŸŽ Date: October 20, 2013
๐ŸŽ Pages: 32

Learn about Chinese New Year, lai see (leisees), and the importance of caring for one another when you read Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn.

Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn is an excellent book to read with school-age children. It is about a boy named Sam who receives several red envelopes for the Chinese New Year. He excited about receiving them this year because he is finally old enough to spend the money he receives by himself. But when he tries to spend it, Sam discovers he doesn't have enough to buy the things that he wants. He then feels disappointed and angry at the same time.

Learn about Chinese New Year, lai see (leisees), and the importance of caring for one another when you read Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn.

There is an important scene in the story in which Sam goes shopping in Chinatown with his mother. This is when Sam realizes he doesn't have enough money to buy what he wants. He gets upset, starts kicking at some paper laying on the ground, and accidentally kicks a homeless person. Oops!

Sam looks at the homeless person and sees that he is cold, his clothes are dirty, and that he has no socks. He is unsettled by this. His mother on the other hand gives the homeless man a quarter. Sam sees how thankful and appreciative for the quarter the homeless man is and decides to give him all of his money. Sam's money wasn't enough to buy Sam what he wanted, but it is more than enough to buy the homeless man what he needs. . . a new pair of socks!

Learn about Chinese New Year, lai see (leisees), and the importance of caring for one another when you read Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn.

Talk About It

After reading Sam and the Lucky Money with your students, take some time to reflect on Sam's actions. Were they surprised when Sam gave the homeless man all of his money? What would they have done in that situation? Ask the students to recall a time in which they had a chance to help someone or a time in which they were the ones who needed help. What were their feelings like?

Make a Simple Red Envelope

This is a perfect time for some reflective writing and arts-and-crafts. Have your students make some red envelopes of their own.  Each student will need:
  • red construction paper
  • glue
  • crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc.

Directions

  • Fold the construction paper in half and glue two of the sides closed to make an envelope.
  • Color and decorate the outside of the envelopes. Use lots of red and gold since they are the colors of prosperity!
  • Give the students some play money to put into their envelopes. It is common practice to give single bills only and in denominations of $10, $20, $50, $100, etc.

Learn about Chinese New Year, lai see (leisees), and the importance of caring for one another when you read Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn.

Reader Response Writing

Now that the students have read Sam and the Lucky Money, talked about their personal feelings and experiences and made cute lai see envelopes, send them back to their desks to do some reflective writing. When done, fold the students' papers and add them to their envelopes. The envelopes and writings can be hung on a bulletin board or bundled together to make a class book.

Learn about Chinese New Year, lai see (leisees), and the importance of caring for one another when you read Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn.

In the photo above, you can see Celia's story in which she writes about a time when she and her mother went to the store and had a chance to help some people out. There was a couple in front of them at the cashier counter who was 40 cents short on their purchase. The couple was upset and rummaging through their bags to figure out which item they could do without. Celia saw what was going on and gave them the 40 cents they needed. The couple was so excited and thankful. . . they gave her fist bumps and even told her God Bless.

Learn about Chinese New Year, lai see (leisees), and the importance of caring for one another when you read Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn.

To learn more about Chinese New Year and to listen to a read aloud of Sam's Lucky Money, watch the following YouTube video by Macky Pierce:



Do you have a favorite book or activity that you like to use with your students during Chinese New Year?  If so, tell us about it in the comment below.  We love reading about what teachers do in their classrooms!


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