Play Like Rabbits

Lunar New Year is one of the most important celebrations of the year among many East and Southeast Asian cultures, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Malaysian, Filipino communities and more. The current Lunar Year ends in early February. 

Each year in the Lunar calendar is represented by one of 12 zodiac animals and 2023 has been the year of the rabbit! 

We'll tee up ways to celebrate the lunar New Year in our February calendar, and you can start to help kids learn more about Lunar New Year with great children’s books like Bringing In the New Year by Grace Lin, Ruby’s Chinese New Year by Vickie Le, and Our Lunar New Year by Yobi Qiu. 

And, in honor of the lunar year about to end, try some of our favorite ways to help kids learn about and play like rabbits!

This activity is featured as part of our January Calendar. Click to get your free copy and sign up to get a fresh, new calendar each month!

The Guide

Learn about rabbits!

Learn more about Eastern Cottontail Rabbits from National Geographic Kids here. Or, better yet, watch bunnies in action! Fortunately, over half of the world’s bunny population resides in North America. Rabbits live in meadows, forests, wetlands, grasslands and even deserts. If you have a garden, you may know all too well that there are bunnies around. Popular prey, rabbits spend most of the day underground. They are most active early and late in the day, especially along the fringes of fields and roadside cover, where thick vegetation provides relatively safe feeding.

Bonus activity—Make a puppet! Click here to download and print a snowshoe hare puppet kids can decorate and interact with. We've included some suggested ways to move like snowshoe hares and lyrics to the Come to Tinkergarten snowshoe har verse, too!

Then, try any of these ways to inspire kids to play like rabbits:

Play rabbit games!

Try out some playful games designed to help kids think and move like rabbits. The whole family will have fun and as kids take on the perspective of rabbit friends, they'll build their cognitive empathy, too! Add new rules to any of these games or invite your child to make up their own rabbit game for the family to play.
  • “Hop”stacle course (any # of players): Place a variety of nature treasures in a straight line or a zig-zag pattern on the ground. At the end of the path, place a string or make a circle shape with nature treasures. Invite kids to hop along the trail to safety in the rabbit hole. 

  • Freeze and Hop (any # of players): The leader yells “Hop!” and everyone hops until the leader yells “freeze.” When frozen, players stay as still as they can to camouflage in to their surroundings. Extra challenge: all players need to hop in a circle, a zig-zag or from point A to point B. 

  • Bunny, Bunny, Fox! (4+ players): Just like Duck, Duck, Goose, but the child who taps heads is a bunny. Child says, "Bunny" each time until they tap someone as “Fox!” The “fox” chases around the circle and back to their seat. 

Build a hare-y-hideout!

Challenge kids to build a safe hideout for a bunny, using a stuffed animal or bunny sized object as a model.
  1. Set up the challenge: Grab a stuffed animal and suggest, “Let’s pretend this is a real bunny. And, let's say it’s getting late in the day. A hungry fox is on his way. What could happen to the bunny? What kind of hideout would a bunny like to have to escape from the fox? What kind of home or hideout can we build for this bunny to keep it safe?"
  2. Set criteria: Chat a bit to generate a list of the criteria needed for a good house. Some examples: big enough to fit the bunny; easy for the bunny to get in and out of; bunny can’t be seen from the outside; withstands wind, rain, etc.
  3. Build your hideout: Help kids gather materials and offer teamwork as feels supportive as they build their hideout for rabbit. Three approaches that kids in Tinkergarten classes have used:
    1. Use the hole in the bottom of a tree and cover it with branches, greens, etc. 
    2. Make a small lean-to against a tree using sticks covered with leaves and grasses.
    3. Dig a hole and build a stick and mud roof over the hole 

Go on a camo hunt!

The color of rabbits’ fur helps them to camouflage with their environment and keep safe from predators. Try this activity to help kids playfully explore the concept of camouflage.
  1. Set up the hunt: Gather some pieces of cut string (6-8 inches long each) in vibrant colors (pink, purple, teal, yellow, orange, etc.) and in the colors of nature (i.e. browns and greens). Place equal amounts of each type of yarn in your outdoor space. Sprinkle strands on the ground, hang them on tree limbs or on low plants, peeking out of logs, etc.
  2. Hunt for the yarn: Ask kids if they notice anything. Assuming they’ll notice the yarn (if not, point it out), give them time to hunt for the yarn. After a few minutes of hunting, invite kids to show you what they found. Wonder which colors of yarn they found more of. 
  3. Prompt thinking: Wonder, “Why do you think you found more bright colored yarn than green/brown yarn?" Give kids a chance to share their ideas and then introduce the idea that colors that are similar to the colors outside camouflage or blend in, making them difficult to see. Wonder how a rabbit’s fur might help it to camouflage in to its environment. Do the hunt again and welcome kids to hide the yarn for you to find.

Why is this activity great for kids?

At Tinkergarten, we know that some of kids' most meaningful learning happens during play. In these playful activities, kids learn about concepts like predator/prey relationships and rabbit adaptations like camouflage, speed, and zig-zagging. Taking on the perspective of rabbits through play supports empathy for other creatures. If your family celebrates Lunar New Year, this could be a nice activity for kids to do alongside whatever you do to prepare for the Lunar New Year to come. If you do not celebrate, it could be a nice way to learn about the holiday—a wonderful way to help children learn to value all people, even those different from themselves.

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