Chinese New Year (which in 2016 begins Monday, February 8th) is a wondrous festival filled with rituals and celebrations.The last 15 days of the old year are spent cleaning, preparing, and settling debts. On the eve of the new moon, a special feast is prepared. Then the first 15 days of the new year are spent celebrating with lion dances, firecrackers, parades and other activities.
Here are six beautiful books, each paired with a classroom activity, to learn more about the rich traditions of the Chinese culture and the Lunar New Year.
Happy, Happy Chinese New Year written and illustrated by Demi
This delightfully illustrated book by Demi is a detailed celebration of the many exciting aspects the Chinese New Year. Infused with joy and filled with information!
Chinese Pellet Drum
This craft re-creates a traditional Chinese instrument called the Bolang Gu, or pellet drum. This instrument is used in Chinese ritual music and as a children’s toy. The pellet drum is double sided with two heads (front and back) and two pellets connected to the sides. It is played by turning the stick between two hands such that the two pellets swing back and forth and hit the two drum heads. When done correctly, it makes a wonderful rhythmic sound.
Bringing In the New Year written and illustrated by Grace Lin
Newberry honoree Grace Lin peeks into the life of a Chinese-American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. Every family member helps out as they sweep out the dust of the old year, hang decorations, and make dumplings for the great feast. Then it’s time to celebrate with fireworks and lion dancers, shining lanterns, and a great, long dragon parade at the end!
Chinese New Year Dragon Puppet
The Dragon is a colorful element of traditional Chinese New Year’s parades. This version is made with simple supplies such as paper plates, paint, and sections of egg cartons with streamers flowing from behind. Attach the puppet to a dowel and your students can create a parade of their own!
Hiss! Pop! Boom! by Tricia Morrissey Illustrated by Kong Lee
Beautifully illustrated with Chinese brush painting and elegant calligraphy, this story delivers the sights and sounds of the Chinese New Year celebration with a Hiss! and Pop! of firecrackers snapping and the Boom! of the drum leading the Lion Dance parade.
Easy Fireworks Painting
Using a cardboard paper roll cut into thin sections to form a simple paintbrush, this craft (along with colorful paint) is an easy way to create beautiful fireworks!
Long-Long’s New Year written by Catherine Gower Illustrated by He Zhihong
Follow along with Long-Long, a little Chinese boy from the country, as he accompanies his grandfather into the big city on an adventure to prepare for the Chinese New Year. The stunning, authentic illustrations in this book capture the look of everyday life in rural China and offer a unique introduction to Chinese culture.
Gold Fish Kites
Crepe paper, googly eyes and a paper towel roll are easily transformed into these beautiful flowing goldfish kites. Add a string to the top and hang them from the ceiling of your classroom for a dazzling school of beauty.
Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats by Nina Simonds and Leslie Swartz Illustrated by Meilo So
This stunning compilation of fun family activities (creating mini boats for the Dragon Boat Festival), delicious recipes (Chinese dumplings and tasty moon cakes), and traditional read-aloud tales (the story of the greedy Kitchen God) is a celebration of the many facets of the Chinese New Year tradition.
Chinese New Year Snake Craft
Sections of cardboard paper roll, colorful strips of construction paper, and lots of patience (and small motor coordination) are the main ingredients for this fun snake craft that is sure to be a huge hit with your students.
Chinese Fables “The Dragon Slayer” and Other Timeless Tales of Wisdom by Shiho S. Nunes Illustrated by Lak-Khee Tay-Audouard
This multi-award winning collection of Chinese Fables will delight listeners with nineteen traditional stories that have been part of Chinese culture for thousands of years, Each story is told in the ancient folk style and contains a universal lesson of the wisdom, as well as the shortcomings, of the human experience with a humor and affection that are uniquely Chinese.
Crazy Arms and Legs Monkey
Celebrate the Year of the Monkey with this silly craft. All you need is construction paper, brown paper bags, markers and staples and your kids can take home a monkey pal of their own.