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Celebrate Chinese New Year in Your Classroom

Janelle Cox

 

Gung Hey Fat Choy! This is the Chinese way of saying “Happy New Year!” Celebrate the exciting Chinese New Year in your classroom by having students partake in traditional customs, as well as discover the history of the Chinese holiday.

Fun Facts

  • Chinese New Year spans 15 days.
  • It begins with the first full moon after winter solstice.
  • It falls somewhere in-between January 21 and February 19.
  • It is the most important holiday for the Chinese.
  • Like Christmas, it is a family festival.
  • Lion and dragon dances are common during the festival.
  • Traditional foods include fish, chicken and dumplings.

Happy Chinese New Year Birthday

Did you know that during the Chinese New Year it’s a tradition for everyone to turn a year older even if their birth date isn’t during that time? Have your students partake in this fun tradition by creating Chinese New Year birthday cards. Have students choose one person to make a card for and find out the year the recipient was born. Then, have students refer to the Chinese chart to determine which animal their recipient is, and their characteristics. Once students have their information they can begin creating their card. On the front of the card they can draw or paste a picture of the animal that represents their addressee. Then, on the inside of the card, students can write a short message describing why the character traits match his/her personality.

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Out With the Old and in with the New

One of traditions before the Chinese New Year even begins is to clean your house to rid last year’s bad luck. Then, once the Chinese New Year begins, it’s a tradition to not clean your house until it’s over for fear you will clean away any good luck. Enlist your students to help you “sweep out the old” by assigning students classroom jobs to approve your classrooms appearance. Once the classroom is clean, tell students that the Chinese also believe that decorating your home with flowers will bring you good luck. Challenge students to create paper flowers out of colored construction paper and pipe cleaners. Then have students display their flowers around your newly cleaned classroom.

We’re Seeing Red

Red is the traditional color used for just about everything during the Chinese New Year celebration. This color represents joy and happiness for the Chinese culture. During your classroom celebration invite students to wear red clothing to school. Enlist students’ help to decorate the classroom with red decorations such as balloons, streamers, and party favors. Have students bring in red-colored treats and snacks such as apples, licorice, cherries, strawberries and candy fish.

Red-Hot Resources

Keep a few of these children’s books in your classroom library, or choose a few of these Chinese New Year-related stories to read to your students on or around the holiday.  

  • “The Dancing Dragon” by  Marcia K. Vaughan
  • “Celebrating Chinese New Year” by Diane Hiyt-Goldsmith
  • “Chinese New Year” by Dianne M. MacMillan
  • “Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes” by Nina Simonds
  • “The Pet Dragon: A Story about Adventure, Friendship, and Chinese Characters” by Christoph Niemann

Do you celebrate the Chinese New Year in your classroom? If so, what are your favorite activities to do with the students? Please share with us in the comment section below! You never know, you may just inspire someone.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who draws on her 15 years of professional experience in the education system. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, where she provides educational information and lesson plans for teachers around the globe.