Lunar New Year has been celebrated for thousands of years in countries all over the world. People spend the last 15 days of the old year 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 dancing, firecrackers, and parades. This year, Lunar New Year begins Tuesday, February 1. Here are some of our favorite Lunar New Year books and activities for the classroom.
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1. Read The Year of the Tiger by Oliver Clyde Chin and learn more about the Year of the Tiger.
The book: Curiosity kindles this cat. Teddy is a cub who is destined to be a tiger king! His thrilling journey celebrates the new year.
The activity: According to the Lunar 12-year animal zodiac cycle, the Chinese year beginning in 2022 is the Year of the Tiger. Did you know that people born in years of the Tiger are fiercely independent and possess strong self-esteem? Or that the tiger’s lucky colors are blue and green? Send your students to this website and do some research to learn more fun facts.
2. Read Lunar New Year by Hannah Eliot and take a virtual field trip!
The book: After the winter solstice each year, it’s time for a celebration with many names: Chinese New Year, Spring Festival, and Lunar New Year!
The activity: Between February 4 and 11th, find free virtual festivities from the Museum of Chinese in America. Activities include a full tutorial on making a lucky lion head for a traditional lion dance, a dumpling-making class, a ribbon dance workshop, a wishful fish craft, and a children’s book reading of Brandon Makes Jiǎo Z i by the author.
3. Read Chinese Zodiac Animals by Sanmu Tang and make these Chinese Animal Zodiac Clocks.
The book: In traditional Chinese culture, some people believed that a person’s character and destiny were somehow decided by his or her zodiac animal. This story explains the traits of each animal sign and what luck the future might hold for the person born under that sign.
The activity: Cut a large circle out of white card stock. Lightly sketch in 12 equally sized sectors, radiating from the center point (You will later erase the lines). In each ‘piece of the pie,’ draw and label each of the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals. Attach an arrow made from red card stock with a metal paper fastener.
4. Read Peppa’s Chinese New Year adapted by Mandy Archer and Cala Spinner and watch a movie about the Chinese New Year .
The book: When their teacher tells Peppa and her friends that it’s time to celebrate Chinese New Year, they couldn’t be more excited! They have a blast hanging lanterns, eating fortune cookies, and putting on a dragon dance!
The activity: This YouTube video from Oddbods is the perfect way to teach kids about the Lunar New Year 2022.
5. Read Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim and write your own versions of the story.
The book: A clever Chinese American retelling of the classic fairy tale. In this version, clumsy and forgetful Goldy Luck is sent to deliver turnip cakes to her neighbor. She stumbles into the home of the Three Pandas and makes a real mess: Goldilocks style.
The activity: Share this story and maybe a couple more modern retellings of fairy tales. Challenge your students to write their own fractured fairy tale starring a pig to honor the Chinese Year of the Pig.
6. Read Happy, Happy Chinese New Year by Demi and make these Chinese Pellet Drums.
The book: This delightfully illustrated book by Demi is a detailed celebration of the many exciting aspects of the Lunar New Year. Infused with joy and filled with information!
The activity: Create your own traditional Bolang Gu, or pellet drum. Used in Chinese ritual music, this instrument is a double-sided drum on a handle with two pellets connected to the sides. Play it by turning the stick between your hands so that the two pellets swing back and forth and hit the two drum heads. It’s tricky at first, but once you do get it, it makes a wonderful rhythmic sound.
7. Read Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin and make these Chinese New Year Dragon Puppets.
The book: Newbery honoree Grace Lin peeks into the life of a Chinese-American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. Every family member helps 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, lion dancers, shining lanterns, and a great, long dragon parade at the end!
The activity: The dragon is a colorful and important element of traditional Lunar New Year parades. Make this version 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 lead a parade of your own!
8. Read Hiss! Pop! Boom!: Celebrating Chinese New Year by Tricia Morrissey and make these Easy Fireworks Paintings.
The book: Beautifully illustrated with Chinese brush painting and elegant calligraphy, this story delivers the sights and sounds of the Lunar New Year celebration.
The activity: Cut a cardboard paper roll into thin sections to form a simple paintbrush. Dip it into colorful paint and create a picture of dazzling fireworks!
9. Read Long-Long’s New Year: A Story about the Chinese Spring Festival by Catherine Gower and make these Gold Fish Kites.
The book: 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 illustrations in this book capture the look of everyday life in rural China and offer an introduction to Chinese culture.
The activity: Crepe paper, googly eyes, and a paper towel roll are transformed into beautiful flowing goldfish kites. Add a string to the top and hang them from the ceiling of your classroom.
10. Read Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats by Nina Simonds and Leslie Swartz and make these Chinese New Year Snakes.
The book: This stunning compilation of fun family activities, delicious recipes, and traditional read-aloud tales is a celebration of the many facets of the Lunar New Year tradition.
The activity: This craft is simple but requires patience (and fine motor coordination). Make the snake’s head from a cardboard paper roll. Add the googly eyes, then fold long strips of construction paper to form the tail.
What are your favorite Lunar New Year activities in the classroom? Come share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, our favorite ideas for Black History Month and President’s Day.