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Teaching Chinese New Year

Updated on November 19, 2015
VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne is an educator with two adopted Chinese daughters She has studied Mandarin and how to teach children about China.

How Chinese New Year Began

Chinese New Year Books to Read Aloud

Chinese New Year Feast


Book Resources

Chinese New Year is a wonderful time of the year to learn about the Chinese people and culture. Children love dragons, Chinese food and learning Chinese characters, which seem like a secret code. Luckily, there are many resources for teaching about Chinese New Year. I'm including some of the best books that I use when I speak to children each year, and I'm also including some video links that you can use.

Moonbeams, Dumpling and Dragon Boats is a wonderful resource for teaching about all Chinese holidays. The book includes a beautiful story about each holiday with lovely watercolor illustrations. It also explains the background of each holiday and gives recipes, games, crafts and activities to try.

Celebrating Chinese New Year uses photographs of one families Chinese New Year to illustrate how the holiday is celebrated. I have often used this book in classrooms. It is a little too lengthy for a read-aloud, but I show the pictures and then tell what the family is doing. You can highlight just the main words to read if you want a bit more direction to help you keep track. Celebrating Chinese New Year is an excellent book to use to explain this holiday to children individually or in a class.

Celebrating Chinese New Year: An Activity Book gives many different activities you can use in a classroom for teaching about Chinese New Year. Particularly helpful is the chart included in the book about which animal goes with what year. Kids always want to know what year they are born in, or what year their parents were born in. There are templates for lots of different crafts of varying ability levels, so you can use this from preschool to upper elementary. Includes many reproducibles too. Great way to add an activity or craft to your lesson.

Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin is a simple picture book story of Celebrating Chinese New Year. As in all of her books, Grace Lin's beautiful illustrations are lovely to look at and her prose makes a very easy to read aloud presentation This book is particularly good for preschool to 1st grade because it has very simple text. It might be a better introduction than Celebrating Chinese New Year for that age group. Another book for this age group would be Chinese New Year Lift the Flap. Grace Lin is by far the most accomplished and prolific children's author who writes about China and Chinese culture. See my hub on Grace Lin's other Chinese books for children

Lanterns and Firecrackers, A Chinese New Year's Story is also for the under 7 child. It has a family celebrating the holiday by bringing in flowers and setting off firecrackers. One advantage of this book is that it has a two-page spread at the end to give information to parents or teachers to help them explain the holiday.

Look What Came from China is a great book to explain the importance of China in our everyday lives. This book is really an excellent overview of China, Chinese History and Chinese culture as well as talking about what things we use every day that come from China. It is written for about a 3-4th-grade reading level and is written in a very engaging way by an American who visited China and writes books for Children. It is divided into easy-to-read topics like Food, Tools, Animals, Toys and Games, Medicine, Sports and Exercise and other topics. It includes a simple recipe for fried rice, a few words to practice and some internet resources. Look What Came from China is an excellent, interesting to read, resource book which would be good for a school report, for a library or home use.

Count Your Way Through China by Jim Haskins is both a counting book and a cultural book. The numbers 1-10 are given in English, Characters and English equivalent pronunciation of Mandarin. For each number, a part of China is discussed, stressing things kids would be interested in like Pandas, the Great Wall, Chinese Animals, and Calligraphy, along with some historical information like the ten dynasties and the development of porcelain. Lovely watercolor illustrations make Count Your Way Through China a beautiful book to look at as well as an interesting one to read.

Easy Chinese New Year Crafts

New Year's Banner: Have kids use watercolor paints to write a few simple Chinese characters, which you can find in books or online onto squares of paper. For younger kids, you can copy off the characters and have them paint over them. Then you can tape the squares of paper onto a string and hang them around the room as a banner.

Dragon Mask: One activity the second grade at my children's school does is take paper grocery sacks and make them into dragon masks with crepe paper, construction paper, tissue paper and markers. Let the kids be creative! For a simple version of this, use a paper plate with a tongue depressor on it to hold onto, or string to tie to their faces. After they finish their masks, the kids can have a parade and watch a real dragon dance.

Zodiac Animal Card Games: Print off these Zodiac Animal Cards and cut them apart. You can use these for playing Memory (use 2 sets), or Go Fish (print 4 sheets of the cards).

Easy Recipe Chinese New Year

Fried Won Tons

  • Won Tons
  • Oil
  • Powdered Sugar

This easy recipe is also one of the best. I usually bring Won Ton skins which I fry in oil and then sprinkle with powdered sugar. These combine the idea of fat and sweet which indicates wealth for the coming year.

Learning to Speak Chinese

Simple Preschool Paper Plate Dragon


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    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 5 years ago from United States

      Thanks so much Hui! You are right that all children deserve to have a home and a future. Happy year of the Dragon to you!

    • Hui (蕙) profile image

      Hui (蕙) 5 years ago

      I always love your hubs not only because of our culture you talked but because of the warm daily life you showed. Those books you suggested sounds beautiful and interesting. Hopefully, all children have a warm home to stay, and will have a better future. And the new year of dragon is already here. Cheers!

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