We went for a low key Halloween this year. Firstly, our American friends are still stuck in America (and probably won't return now) and they are normally very enthusiastic about organising fun activities which we happily join in with. Then the Chinese Government has been actively discouraging its citizens from taking part in Western festivals (Halloween, Christmas etc) this year and promoting Chinese festivals instead.
Hallo we end...
But JD was keen to dress up, eat sweets and play scary games, so I put together a simple costume and prepared some fun activities for him and some of his friends to do. Better than nothing!
We celebrated our Halloween a little late this year due to exams. We invited our American family friends over and played a variety of scary and silly games such as "Get the chocolate out of the flour" game [JD lost - see above], "Crisps on a string" [see below], Pass-the-Parcel, "Treasure Hunt", "Guess the crisp flavour" and a "Feely Box". JD dressed as a fish(?!), while I was Spiderman. Our guests were a witch and a Ninja! All good, but not clean, fun!
After a week at home with a nasty cough I finally got JD back to Kindergarten yesterday morning, only to be told he "still had a fever" (despite the nurse's thermometer showing a very normal reading of 37ºC) and so I had to take him home again! I cancelled his planned evening Halloween party and we spent another day together.
We decided to build a huge Halloween Den that he and I could both sleep in. So last night we had sausage sandwiches, doughnuts and sweets before some scary stories and off to sleep. I had to leave the den in the night with cramp, but JD slept on until morning!
Make no bones about it
JD's been a bit ill over the weekend with a cough, sore throat and temperature, but nothing was going to stop him from attending yesterday's Halloween Party with me. Great fun.
Trip or treat
I took JD to a "Trick or Treat" get-together yesterday organised by an American friend of ours, with about 20 Chinese children and their parents. We visited 10+ flats in their neighbourhood and were duly rewarded with sweets. It was JD's first such event - and mine too!
JD couldn't decide whether to go as Spider-Man or Bob the Builder, but eventually settled for Spidey, although his uncomfortable mask only stayed on for the first five minutes! I managed to freak out a few of the kids with my mask though [see below]. We headed off after an hour or so for a long-promised MacDonald's Happy Meal. Thankfully the recent days of non-stop rain held off for our trip, although the ground was very slippery and JD slipped over three times! He was exhausted by bedtime and fell asleep quickly ...only to wake up twice with nightmares! The joys of Halloween, right?
School skull skill
Halloween is here again and though I thought I'd escaped the worst of it having left Robert's School a year and a half ago, I've been drafted back to help them this weekend. They have encouraged existing students to bring a friend and want an experienced teacher to give a demo lesson to these potential new students and their parents for an hour before they head to various classrooms for Halloween games with their invitee friend. It means preparing for classes of unknown numbers of students at unknown levels of ability (and, with Ava away on business, hoping Ma can look after JD during the hours when I am busy). No wonder I'm looking dead tired!
Fangs for that
The cough and cold I had last week didn't improve and a CT scan a few days ago confirmed a diagnosis of pneumonia. So I'm currently on a course of antibiotics. And they're not cheap! £7.50 for a box that looks fairly substantial but only contains three tiny tablets. I need to take nine! The timing is really annoying too, with Halloween weekend being the busiest of our school year. I usually give it 100%, dressing up, screaming and shouting in the corridors and scaring the pants off all the students. I've already prepared my outfit and lessons for this year, but I'm starting to realise I won't be able to go in (and my students will miss all the fun). I still have a hacking cough and I'm getting exhausted after climbing a flight of stairs or standing up for too long. Really frustrating, but I think I need to go with head over heart. It's an infection that kills 4 million people a year around the world, after all!
Saw a dino
Today is Halloween and this weekend our school has its usual wild celebrations; decorating the corridors, getting teachers to dress up, and playing a variety of silly games with the students.
The theme this year is "Dinosaurs fighting Robots", inspired by recently released films such as "Pacific Rim" and "Jurassic Park 3D". I decided to be a dinosaur and set myself the task of creating a full-sized head to wear. Starting with various cardboard boxes, I joined them together, covered them in brown paper and added "hair", horns, antennae, teeth and eyes. I'm quite pleased with the final result, though how long it will last is anybody's guess with hundreds of kids dressed as robots wanting to "fight" me. And there is the added danger of not being able to see where I'm going, in a school with lots of steep steps...
Anyhow, the effort has been made and, once the weekend is over, I can look forward to 6 weeks of uninterrupted, normal, educational lessons (until Christmas, at least!). I must be getting old!
Short shark shock
Halloween is back upon us and, as ever, our school goes a bit crazy for it - you can forget the usual discipline levels! All the staff and many of the students dress up in costumes and academic work goes out the window in favour of scary games and activities. This year's theme is Superheroes, although it was chosen after I had decided on my costume, so I've still gone with "diver eaten by shark"! It got quite a few screams over the weekend, plus a few belly laughs. Not a bad combination, I guess!
Goodbye hallo ween
My last class of the weekend proved to be the one in which the students had made the most effort in dressing up and bringing friends.
They are the youngest bunch I teach at 9-11 years of age, and are full of enthusiasm and energy. One of them even brought in a plastic bottle full of live praying mantises, "just to scare me". Job done - they are very weird looking insects!
Mexing it up
Halloween is here again, and our school goes wild for the weekend. The building is decorated, teachers are required to dress up [see Monique, below] and many students do too. After a few years of "sword through my torso", I went for a different look this year - a bizarre, fat Mexican gunslinger growling the phrase, "Where's ma dawg?". It got the usual screams and cowering kids [see photo above].
One of the school's 35 classrooms was decked out as a Haunted Room, with over 500 students trailing through during the 2 hour classes. My students enjoyed various other activities too, such as using loo rolls to dress one of them up as a Mummy, and trying to reconstruct a Dracula face on the board whilst blindfolded [see below].
It's a manic and tiring weekend, with very little getting done educationally, but the kids love it. You get the impression there's not much "fun" in Chinese State Schools"! At my suggestion, all our students are rewarded if they "bring-a-friend" on this weekend. Any newcomers are then given a discount voucher which hopefully attracts some to join the school longer term. Back to normality next weekend, all being well "...now, where's ma dawg?"
Scars and scares
The screams eminating from Robert's School are usually caused by excruciating grammar rules. But this weekend kids have been cowering in corridors, falling down flights of stairs, weeping, wailing, whining and wincing... ...can't imagine why!!
Sword it before?
Our school goes crazy for Halloween with scary decorations throughout the school, teachers and students getting dressing up, and grammar replaced by games! The Halloween theme this time is "Zombies versus Plants", a wildly popular internet game here in China, apparently. Halloween isn't really my cup of tea, but having missed it last year (in the UK) I'm doing my best to get into the swing of it. I've made a new "sword through the chest" outfit, as few folk will have seen it before. It caused plenty of screams in 2007 and 2008 and the addition this time of a severed hand clutching the sword can only add to the shock factor!
Paul Hider lives and works in Kunming (SW China) and regularly updates this blog about his life there.
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