There are many versions of the story (see literature recommendations below), but here is how I heard it most often:
In ancient China, there once appeared ten suns in the sky. It was unbearably hot, the crops were dying, the rivers drying up, and the people knew they would not survive. A hero named Hou Yi, who was brave and skilled at archery , climbed to the top of Mt. Kunlun with his bow and arrow and shot nine of the ten suns down. The people were saved from disaster and Hou Yi became a respected master teacher, with many archery students. One of his students was a cunning, devious man named Peng Meng. Hou Yi married a lovely girl named Chang Er and they were a devoted couple adored by all. One day, as Hou Yi was traveling to Mt. Kunlun, he saw the Jade Empress, a heavenly goddess, who gave him a pill of immortality which would change a mortal into an eternal deity. However, Hou Yi was reluctant to take the pill and leave his wife alone on Earth, so he gave it to Chang Er and asked her to store it somewhere safe. Hou Yi's sly student, Peng Meng, overheard their conversation, and waiting till Chang Er was alone, he stormed into their house with a sword, demanding the pill. Chang Er did not want to give it to him for fear he would use it for evil, so she swallowed it herself. Immediately, she became light and began floating into the sky beyond her control. As she floated higher, she began to miss her husband Hou Yi terribly, and saw that the moon was the closest body to Earth, she landed there so that she could still see her beloved husband. When Hou Yi came home and realized what had happened, he ran out into the garden, crying for his wife. He looked up and saw her unmistakeable shadow moving around on the moon. He understood that she had become a deity on the moon, and he set up an altar of incense, fruits and snacks as a memorial to Chang Er. Ever since then, people have been placing offerings and praying to the kind-hearted goddess of the moon to grant them peace and happiness.
Chang Er is not alone on the moon. The Jade Rabbit and Wu-Gang, the woodcutter, also live there with her, and they have their own stories of how they came to join her. Some say that the Rabbit Fairy couldn't bear to see Chang Er alone on the moon, so she sent her youngest daughter to keep her company.
Children's Books for Mid-Autumn Festival (see Amazon)
Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (by Grace Lin)
Mooncakes (by Loretta Seto)
Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival (by Sanmu Tang)
Yoga for Mid-Autumn Festival
Sun Salutations Can you do ten rounds, one for each of the suns in the sky? (modified variation for kids: Reach up, fold forward and step back, bringing belly to ground and shoulders raised for Cobra/Snake. Press hands down and come to hands and knees, moving through Table pose to Downward Dog. Hop feet forward to begin again)
Mountain Pose Hou Yi climbed Mt. Kunlun to get better aim at the blazing suns.
Archer's Pose Sitting down, extend one leg forward with the other knee bent, foot on floor. With first two fingers of each hand, hold on to big toe of each foot, lifting the leg closest to you and drawing the foot back toward the ear. (photo via www.alannak.com)
Bow and Arrow Poses Bow (Dhanurasana) and Side Plank Pose for Arrow (what other poses could look like an arrow? Warrior 3 with palms together, outstretched? For younger children, perhaps side-lying on the floor with toes pointed and arms overhead--which is still a difficult way to balance and builds strength and body awareness!)
Floating/Flying How would it look if you started to float and fly up into the sky like Chang Er?
Crescent Moon Pose Chang Er lands on the moon. Begin kneeling and step one foot forward, shifting weight onto front foot (Low Lunge). Reach arms up, palms together, look up. Other moon-related poses are Standing Crescent (stand with feet together, palms touching and arms outstretched as you lean from side to side) and Half Moon Pose (more challenging).
Rabbit Pose For the Jade Rabbit, Chang Er's friend on the moon. Sitting on shins, bring the crown of the head to floor in front of knees. Lift seat away from heels and stretch arms alongside calves.