25th January 2022
15+ Ideas For Celebrating Chinese New Year In The Classroom
Cultural holidays are a great opportunity to engage your class in learning about the world – here you will find lots of ideas for turning the upcoming Chinese New Year into a fun learning opportunity. It’s one of the most widely recognised festivals in the world, with nearly a fifth of the world celebrating in some way, from China to Indonesia to the USA!
What Is Chinese New Year?
Every year, the Chinese New Year falls between 20th January and the 24th of February, on the second new moon following the Winter Solstice. The Chinese New Year celebrates the beginning of a new year on the Lunisolar calendar, a traditional calendar dictated by moon phases. Although the majority of China used the Gregorian calendar, the traditional alternative still charts national holidays and occasions.
Chinese people celebrate by cleaning their homes, reuniting with family, cooking special meals, decorating their homes with traditionally red decorations and gifting red envelopes and other presents. Families watch elaborate lion dances, fireworks and release lanterns. The celebration is intended to wash away the past year and invite happiness, prosperity and health in for the year to come.
WHY CELEBRATE CHINESE NEW YEAR IN THE CLASSROOM?
Chinese New Year is one of the most widely celebrated culturally holidays across the world and is an engaging topic to study with lots of historical, cultural and spiritual elements. If you teach pupils with Chinese or Asian heritage, teaching about Chinese history and culture will have a positive inclusionary benefit for your whole class. If not, it’s an engaging topic with plenty of scope for fun, creative lessons with learning opportunities in lots of areas.
THE CHINESE ZODIAC
This year’s celebration will cast aside the Year Of The Ox and ushering in the Year Of The Tiger. Children, especially younger learners, will enjoy working out what Year they were born in and what it means. People born in the Year Of The Tiger are said to be daring, ambitious, confident and unpredictable – you can find out what each year symbolises here, along with some free teaching resources on the Chinese Zodiac. Fun fact to share with your class – Queen Elizabeth was born during the Year Of The Tiger!
There are so many ways you can bring a touch of the New Lunar Year festival to your classroom!
- Deck your halls with red paper lanterns and other themed decorations. Younger children will enjoy making simple lanterns such as these, whilst older pupils could try their hand at traditional Chinese origami.
- Compare the traditional lunar calendar with our own calendar – there are some major differences that make great discussion points.
- Planning a Chinese New Year celebration is a great way for your class to get to find out all of the fun elements of Chinese New Year, from traditional food to parades and fireworks.
- Hold a Chinese New Year assembly – introduce the rest of the school to what your pupils have learnt – this is a great opportunity for your pupils to share their knowledge with others. Make use of traditional music and props if you have access to them.
- Cultural festivals always offer lots of opportunities for arts and crafts and Chinese history has a wide variety of unique crafts that translate well to the classroom. Try out writing Chinese symbols with feathers and ink to improve motor skills for younger pupils and a broader understanding of language in older ones. Traditional Chinese art is a great discussion point for all key stages, replicating simple Chinese imagery such as dragons, tigers or landscape scenes can work with nearly all art materials and make beautiful, engaging displays.
- Take in (or if you are brave enough, make with your class) some of the foods traditionally associated with Chinese New Year. Your local Asian market will have lots of cheap supplies. Discuss the meanings behind the food and encourage your pupils to try out chopsticks to eat!
- Try making these Chinese New Year kites with Crayola
- Create learning opportunities in Maths and Geometry by teaching your class about ancient Chinese games. Tangrams are a fun activity for most ages. Get them cutting out their own Tangrams with this free download over on TES, or try this online version
- Chinese proverbs can make an engaging language and comprehension lesson – there’s some good examples and lesson ideas here
- Either make your own, or get your class involved in making lucky money envelopes with this simple folding guide
- China is a fascinating country to study, it’s size, population, government, geography and culture make a broad and interesting basis for Geography and History lessons. Find out more about the history of China. Try TES and Twinkl for lots of inspiration!
- Get physical by tasking your class to create their own Chinese Dragon Dance. There are some fun ideas and a lesson plan with learning objectives available here!
- Having a pen pal from another culture is a great way to teach diversity and acceptance to your pupils. There are various pen pal schemes available online, or you could try this Penpal finder from Cambridge Assessment.
- Learning simple Chinese phrases and terms could spark an interest in learning Chinese. Greet your class with “Gong hei fat choy”, which translates in Cantonese as “wishing you great happiness and prosperity” then look up more to share with your class here!
- Chinese shadow puppets make a fun way to relate the story of Lunar New Year (or any other story that your pupils can engage with!) plus a unique crafting activity
MOre online resources
- Finding impactful online resources in the huge range of teacher-created content available online can be a challenge. Here are some that we’ve found with great reviews:
- Teachers Pet – Although you need an account to download, their Chinese New Year resources get really positive reviews. Search here for CYN and other cultural celebrations.
- As always, the BBC Teachers section has a bunch of new and older downloadable, videos and podcasts to share with your class around the theme of Chinese New Year – we especially like their Chinese New Year Assembly Pack
- Twinkl has lots of fun downloadables, Year Of The Tiger themed worksheets and activities for older pupils in their resources section.
- Eduzone provides some free downloads and guides to creating your own CNY worksheets for younger pupils here
- We found some lovely ideas for lessons on Activity Village, visit their page and download Chinese Zodiac worksheets, games and quizzes
- There are lots of free ideas for celebrating the Lunar New Year at Scholastic – we especially like the ideas for working with currency in Maths
Pinterest is packed with ideas for quick and easy crafts, recipes and decorations. Check out all our boards & pins over on our Pinterest account, where we share fresh content daily for teachers and educators!
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