Welcome to our complete resource for learning about the Chinese Lunar New Year with children.
In this guide you will find lesson plans, crafts, activities and free printables that you can use to celebrate the Chinese New Year with your children.
A complete resource for Chinese New Year activities and lesson plans
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Scheme of work for Chinese New Year
In this scheme of work for Chinese New Year you will find:
:: a broad range of Chinese New Year activities that covers the full curriculum of math, literacy, arts and crafts, sensory and play activities, cultural studies, fine motor skills, and food
:: lesson plans and activities that make it easy for you to teach about the Chinese New Year including activity guides, materials lists and free printables
:: links to additional resources for extended learning
What is the Chinese Lunar New Year?
The Chinese year follows the lunar cycle which places the celebration of new year at the time of new moon that occurs sometime between January 21st and February 20th.
In 2020 Chinese New Year will begin on Saturday 25th January, which will be the start of the Year of the Rat. In 2021 the new year will begin on February 12th, when the Year of the Ox will begin.
The festival is a time of great celebration, in China and in Chinese-communities around the world.
Traditional festivities include:
:: special foods
:: the gifting of red envelopes containing money
:: dragon parades and lion dances
:: lantern decorations
:: fireworks and firecrackers
The festival chases away bad spirits and celebrates good fortune for the year ahead.
What are the Chinese Zodiac animals?
In the Chinese calendar, each year is associated with one of twelve special animal from the Chinese Zodiac. These animals all have special personalities and attributes and people are thought to share qualities with the animal of the year in which they were born.
The animals of the Chinese zodiac are the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
China Today has a guide to the characters of each animal and you can find links below to individual animal crafts.
Recommended Chinese New Year books for children
A great way to introduce any new topic to children is with a story. The following books offer a colourful, simple introduction to Chinese New Year:
Lanterns and Firecrackers: A Chinese New Year Story by Jonny Zucker and Jan Barger Cohen
My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin
How to introduce the Chinese New Year to children
Using the books above is a great way to introduce your children to the traditions of the Chinese New Year.
It is a good idea to have props to show your children, as you read the story and introduce the key elements of a festival. The props give your children something to hold and explore, making the ideas of the festival real and relevant to them, especially if they are learning about a festival from a country or culture that they are not familiar with.
You might have a circle time to look at the items, you can place them on a discovery table for your children to explore, or use them in a treasure basket.
Items that you might bring along to show your children for your Chinese New Year topic might include:
:: mandarins – a winter fruit representing abundance, a great food for snack time this week
:: red paper lanterns and other decorations – see below for craft activities
:: toys or puppets for each of the animals in the Chinese Zodiac
:: dragon and lion puppets – who feature in the traditional parades for Chinese New Year
:: chop sticks and soup spoons in a Chinese style
:: examples or pictures of foods that are eaten at the festival, which might include: rice cakes whose name (nian gao) sounds like the greeting ‘grow (prosper) in the new year’, spring rolls as gold bricks, vegetables cut into coin shapes, long noodles to represent long life, and dumplings whose shape is like old Chinese money
:: spices that are commonly used in Chinese food, to smell: cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, ginger, and nutmeg
:: red envelopes and gold coins, which are given (in amounts of equal numbers) to children as gifts
Chinese New Year scheme of work for a week of Chinese New Year activities
Continuous provision / themed centres
For scissor skills and find motor skills
For play and sensory