The following activities are a great way to introduce children to the Chinese New Year. These were some activities we did in school.
Zodiac Animal Hunt
In this activity, pictures of all the zodiac animals were hidden around the playground and the children had to search for them.
Order of the Zodiac
The order of the Zodiac is an activity where children have to put the 12 Chinese Zodiac Animals in their proper order. Hint: if you can’t remember, try listening to The Race of the Zodiac on Story Chimes.
Zodiac Animal Jigsaw Puzzles
In this activity, the children are given a picture of a zodiac animal which they could cut up to make their own Zodiac Animal Jigsaw Puzzle.
Make a basket following these instructions (although the instructions are for Easter, you can use Chinese New Year themed paper or red coloured paper instead).
Let’s Pretend Corner
Create a fun dress-up corner where children can pretend to go visiting during Chinese New Year.
Making Paper Lanterns from Red Packets
Make Chinese New Year lanterns from red packets or coloured paper. The instructions for this can be found here.
Let the children practice their fine motor skills with a pair of chopsticks. Pick up mandarin oranges with a pair of chopsticks and place them into a basket.
Dance with paper fans. Make up a dance and dance together or go freestyle if that’s your preference.
Get some inspiration watching the following video:
What Lunar New Year is complete without a Lion Dance with drums? Using simple percussion instruments (or even empty tins and a spoon), make a beat to dance to. If you’re feeling creative, make your own lion dance head to dance along with.
Firecrackers are an important part of the Chinese New Year festivities to help drive away bad spirits. Make some paper firecrackers following these instructions.
Art: Plum Blossoms
When everything has faded they alone shine forth,
encroaching on the charms of smaller gardens.
Their scattered shadows fall lightly on clear water,
their subtle scent pervades the moonlit dusk.
Snowbirds look again before they land,
butterflies would faint if they but knew.
Thankfully I can flirt in whispered verse,
I don’t need a sounding board or winecup.
– Lin Bu (Song Dynasty)
In Chinese Culture, the Plum Blossom is the symbol of perseverance and hope because it blooms in the harsh, cold weather of winter when all other plants have shed their leaves. Standing alone against the stark whiteness of winter, the Plum Blossom is also a symbol of beauty and purity.
Create your plum blossom painting – following these instructions (you can also use crushed-up pieces of coloured tissue paper for the blossoms).
Trace an outline of your child’s hand on coloured paper. Cut out the outline, and stick it to the back of a dragon’s head to form the body. We’ve also done this as a handprint painting.
Making Chinese New Year Ang Pao
Another significant feature of Chinese New Year is the “Ang Pao” (red packet). Money in red packets is handed out to children and unmarried people during Chinese New Year. You can try making your own following these instructions (or download this template).
Visit any open house during Chinese New Year and there will be an array of cookies to sample. The typical cookies that are often associated with Chinese New Year are:
You can try making a batch of your own following the recipes in the links.
Another big feature of Chinese New Year is the Nian Gao (literally: Year Cake). These are usually cut up and coated with desiccated coconut before eating. Here’s what the Nian Gao looks like when they are prepared for the Chinese New Year offerings.
Write Your Name in Mandarin
Use this translator tool to convert your name to Chinese characters and try making a copy of it using a brush and black ink.
Glutinous Rice Dumplings
Chinese New Year Colouring Sheets
Print your own colouring sheets here:
Zodiac Animal Art/Craft
Make an art/craft model of a Zodiac Animal.
Play Doh Art
In this activity, children can use play-doh to add the missing elements to the pictures – missing horns for the bull, missing tail for the cat, adding colour to the snake… you get the idea.
Making Chinese New Year Cards
Make a Chinese New Year Card using this cool pop up template or come up with your own design.
Chinese Calligraphy is an art form in its own right with students practicing for many years to master the art. A master demonstrates how a character is written and the student strives to produce a perfect copy of the master’s work. Learn how to write Happy New Year in Chinese.