Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Yeh Shen: A Chinese Cinderella


Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China
Retold by Ai-Ling Louie
One of the oldest Cinderella stories recorded, the Yeh-Shen story was published in the 9th century. 

Following similar ideas of the western Cinderella I grew up with, a young, kind girl is mistreated by her step mother, she is helped with magic, she is chosen by royalty though her identity is unknown, and she loses a slipper, which later only fits her feet.

Despite the similar ideas, this story reflects the Chinese culture in the practice of having more than one wife, living in caves, and the Spring Festival. Also,in this story, the king falls in love with the size of Yeh-Shen's tiny shoe.This reference to foot binding, and the importance of tiny feet on girls in China for much of its history, is something well worth discussing. (post coming soon...)

Kid World Citizen has a great post about the cultural aspects of this story.


The magical helper in this story is a friendly fish, whose bones grant wishes after it dies. After reading this story, the girls made their own fish bones out of polymer clay in order to make their own wish granting fish bones.

They started off by drawing a bit of a template, and trying to replicate that with clay.

Before baking the fish bones, they speared a toothpick through the length to be able to use the pieces as "beads". After baking, they were strung together with wire, adding small beads between the bones. Pea hung hers in her room, and Elle turned hers into a wishing box.


To make Elle's wishing box, we used a small lidded cardboard box, and cut a hole in the lid. She drew the ancient pictograph for fish on a piece of blue paper, and glued that to some heavy cardstock. The fish was wired to the card, and the card was then glued halfway inside the box. I cut a hole at the top of the box, and attached it to her wall. She now has a wish box.



Elle putting in her first wish
I've linked up this post to this great blog hop of reviews and activities for Children's books the Kid Lit Blog Hop & Booknificent. You can find more activities to do with folktales at the Poppins Book Nook.
Books are a wonderful way to experience new worlds and ideas. Our house is filled with books, most of which are borrowed from our public library. Public libraries are an incredible resource, making books accessible to everyone, and we highly encourage everyone to discover theirs. If you are hoping to build your own home library, I've made it easy by including a link to Amazon.com in the book title. Please note that I have become affiliated with them, which means that if you make a purchase, you are also supporting this website.
Kid Lit Blog Hop
Booknificent Thursdays

24 comments:

  1. This is brilliant. The story sounds very interesting, and I love both your craft and a wish box. Goes to my Pinterest :)

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    1. Thanks! I love reading various versions of well known fairy tales.

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  2. I am in awe at the exquisite detail you go into in your studies. There is so much to be said for really digging in deep in getting to know another culture. The clay fish bones are so delicate - your girls are very creative and patient. They must be very pleased with their finished creations, they are both beautiful!

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    1. Thank you Lucinda - there is always so much to learn about a culture - and despite going "in depth", I always feel like we barely scratch the surface. Someday, I hope to be in the position to actually travel and experience various cultures first hand - a goal that has made its way into the girls hearts. In the meantime, the girls love to be creative! I'll be sure to pass along your kind message :)

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  3. I love multicultural Cinderella stories. It's amazing to me that this story is part of every culture. Thanks for your review. I'm half Chinese but I haven't read this book and my girls would love it!

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    1. It really is amazing how many cultural versions of this story there is. Thanks for stopping by - I hope your girls enjoy!

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  4. I loved using this story with my SEIT middle grade groups. They always delighted in this version of the tale.

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    1. It's so much fun to read different versions of a tale you think you know so well. Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. This is such a wonderful activity to go with Yeh-Shen.

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  6. Wow, the Chinese Cinderella sounds so poignant and culturally accurate. I really want to read it after your review. Fantastic activities too, thanks so much for linking in to the Kid Lit Blog Hop

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    1. Thanks for stopping by - I hope you get a chance to read it. It is so interesting to read various versions of fairy tales we grew up with.

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  7. I love reading your blog. I got this in my inbox one day and was so fascinated by all the activities! I am still looking for a copy of this book. And this is one of the things I want to do at DD's school. I cant wait to see how the kids react. Thanks for sharing on Kid LIt Blog Hop!
    -Reshama @StackingBooks.com

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    1. Thank you Reshama, if you get around to trying this activity, I'd love to hear about it!

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  8. Thank you for sharing this story. I love Cinderella stories from different cultures.

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    1. I love all versions of Cinderella - modern ones, and cultural ones, so was glad to mix the two with our study of China. Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. What a fantastic idea for a craft/art! I love it. I seem to recall reading a post about Cinderella stories from around the world last year. This would have been another great recommendation for that list. Thanks for sharing in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. :)

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    1. Thanks! The girls love to use polymer clay - so this worked out :)

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  10. A beautiful story and beautiful activities! I love it!

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  11. I will definitely be on the look out for the book you used and I loved both the crafts! Pinned them for later!

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    1. It's a great folk tale :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. I had not heard of Yeh Shen until today. My daughter would adore this folktale. I am adding this to our summer reading list!

    Thank you for helping to bring a spoonful of reading fun to the Poppins Book Nook this month!

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    1. That's great! There are so many multicultural versions of Cinderella, and they are such fun to read :)

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