Lotus Lantern Project
At PVC, Lotus Lantern Project Engages Students in Korean History and Culture
This month at PVC, sixth grade students have been participating in a unique activity that provides an introduction to Korean culture: the crafting of Lotus Lanterns. In Korea, these lanterns are used to celebrate the birthday of Buddha, which falls on April 8th of the lunar calendar this year. In Korea, huge parades are held to celebrate, with lotus lanterns adorning the streets.
The lotus is a symbol of spiritual purity to followers of Buddhism, as its flower grows in mud and swamps yet retains a clear, delicate fragrance. Buddhists also believe that everyone has their own personal lotus in the heavens, which may be flowering beautifully or withering depending on how the person cultivates their mind. The different colors of lotus flowers also hold individual significance; the pink lotus, for example, is generally representative of the Great Buddha himself.
The idea to introduce the students to Lotus Lanterns was first brought to art teacher Ms. Armstrong by the Korean Spirit and Cultural Promotion Project in 2019, who thought it was a wonderful opportunity. The PVC PTA has provided the funding for the initiative. Since the pandemic made repeating the project difficult in 2020, this is the second year that students are participating in the crafting of lotus lanterns. Lessons this year are being held over Zoom, with each student receiving pre-packaged materials for their lanterns assembled by the presenter, as well as a book of Korean folk tales. Students were walked through the steps for putting the lanterns together by an instructor, but they also took time to compliment each other's work and offer tips for getting the petals to stick to the lanterns and not their fingers!
“This hands-on lesson is a wonderful way for students to practice patience and persistence and following directions,” said sixth grade teacher Mrs. Herbert. “I am so proud of how they are staying engaged and focused.”
Most students said that they plan to put a small tea light in their lantern, although one sixth-grade student, J.J., said he was going to give it to his grandmother, “because she likes flowers, and I think that’s the perfect place to put it.” Another student, Jaylee, was looking through the book of folk tales after finishing her lantern, and she said she’s interested in learning more about Korean history and culture.
“This is a really fun project, and the parades they have in Korea look amazing,” said Jaylee. When asked if she would like to visit Korea someday, she responded with an emphatic, “definitely!”
This lesson also supports the Croton-Harmon school’s Profile of a Graduate, which places a high value on flexibility and critical thinking, as well as the district's commitment to inclusion and the celebration of diversity.
“It's an important part of our curriculum to teach students about different cultures and practices,” said PVC Principal Michael Plotkin. “While this project celebrates Asian culture, it also reminds us that the concept of bringing light to the darkness is common across many backgrounds and cultures.”