Looking for ideas to celebrate Chinese New Year? You’ve come to the right place.
So, it’s January – it’s cold, it’s dark, it’s rainy. Celebrating Chinese New Year is guaranteed to bring some festive cheer back into your classroom whilst educating your students on an age-old tradition.
What is Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year is an annual 15-day festival which commences sometime between the 20th of January and the 24th of February. Also known as the Lunar New Year, celebrations begin on the second new moon after the Winter Solstice. In contrast to the Gregorian calendar, the phases of the moon dictate the Chinese calendar. As we leave the year of the Tiger in 2022, we enter the year of the Rabbit. In celebration, families reunite, put up decorations, and gift red envelopes to each other.
Why should we celebrate the Chinese New Year?
With a British Chinese population of nearly half a million, celebrating the Lunar New Year is an appropriate reflection of British diversity promoting inclusivity. Rich in spiritual, historical, and cultural significance, it provides an opportunity to expand our children’s general knowledge of the world around them.
1. Assembly and follow-up activities
Begin the day with a whole school assembly informing the children on the history, general facts and information of the tradition (see links below). Involve the children by organising a play to bring the story to life.
Following the assembly, key stage 2 children could discover key information with a reading comprehension. Afterwards, they might rewrite the history of the celebration as a story or a fact file using computing skills to research the relevant information.
key stage 1children can act out the main events instead, and use freezeframes to initiate discussions on significant parts of the Lunar New Year.
2. Language Learning
Duolingo for Schools is totally free and an effective tool to acquire basic language skills. Alternatively, introduce your class to some common New Year phrases in mandarin like xīn nián hǎo (Happy New Year!).
3. Arts and Crafts
It is tradition to decorate houses with red lanterns, and paper cuttings which symbolise good fortune, joy, and prosperity. Chinese New Year is therefore the perfect opportunity to get creative. Use these ideas for your whole school displays or in exhibitions to showcase the children’s accomplishments to their parents (suitable for KS1 and KS2).
- Shadow puppets, – stick straws on animal cut outs, write scripts and perform plays.
- Babybel cheese lanterns – get crafty with cheese; what better way to spend a day?!
- Chinese lanterns – grab some scissors, red card, a stapler… et voila!
- Paper cutting – a few hours of paper cutting, and your classroom will be brimming with festive cheer! Just make sure your resource cupboard is well stocked with red paper.
- Red envelopes – children are traditionally given money gifts placed in these little red envelopes.
- Chinese pellet drums – pellet drums can be proudly presented to parents at the end of the school day.
- Calligraphy – lastly, older children might enjoy learning some Chinese calligraphy whilst honing their fine motor skills.
4. Chinese zodiac activities
Classes can research what year they were born in. They can then create greeting cards or a zodiac wheel including the defining characteristics of the zodiac animals.
An afternoon of cooking will make your afternoon fly by. Sample some Chinese ingredients from your local Asian supermarket such as soy sauce, oyster sauce, spring onions, and rice vinegar. The children could also cook some classic New Year dishes like sweet rice balls or spring rolls.
Finally, find out more about teaching and learning in China.
Why not try these ideas to celebrate Chinese New Year and culture in 2023?