The Chinese New Year is a great time to introduce students to Chinese culture. The start of their new year is calculated by the lunar calendar, so each year begins on a different date. This year the new year begins on February 5th.
Materials: Copies of visuals, (click here to download) bubble wrap, books (see list below), art supplies as needed.
Scaffolding: Show the students the visuals of celebrations. Tell the students that when something special happens or when we want to remember something special that has happened, people have a celebration. Explain that a celebration is a way of showing that you are happy.
Link: When introducing a mini unit about the Chinese New Year, start with a discussion of how and why we celebrate our new year. Use visuals as prompts for students who may have difficulty sharing. Tell the students that in other countries people celebrate the new year on a different day and in different ways. Tell them they will learn about the Chinese people celebrate their New Year.
Engage and Educate: Show the students the visuals for the Chinese New Year. Compare the visuals to those for “our” celebration. This is a good opportunity to reinforce the concept of same and different. Read a Chinese New Year book of your choice to the students (see list below for some good ones). Use the visuals to promote understanding.
1) Chinese Dragon: Show the video of a dragon parade. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JYMlL5sFXE Let the students decorate their mask any way they like. Materials: access to YouTube to show video, paper plates with eye holes cut out, markers, glue, any decorative items you may have (glitter, stickers, yarn etc.) popsicle sticks. If you want to use a template instead of a paper plate for the mask here’s a good one which is free to download: https://itsybitsyfun.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/dragon-to-color-mask.pdf
2) Chinese Lanterns: Perfect for a fine motor activity. Materials: Red construction paper folded and with cutting lines drawn on, pre-cut handle, stapler to put the lantern together. Here’s a link to a free pattern: https://printables4kids.com/chinese-new-year-printables/chinese-new-year-lantern-craft/
3) Memory Game: Use the visuals from both the Chinese and Western New Year to play Memory. As the students make a match, ask them if their match is from a Chinese New Year, Western New Year celebration or both.
4) Noise Makers: These “drums” make a fun accompaniment to a New Year’s parade around the room. Materials: paper plates, beads, miscellaneous decorations, material for coloring (markers, paint, crayons), stapler, stick. Here’s the link: https://www.giftofcuriosity.com/chinese-new-year-drum-craft-for-kids/
5) Parade: While playing the video from Extension Activity 1), allow the students to parade around the room with their masks, lantern, or drum.
6) Food: Eating is a very enjoyable part of any celebration. Consider finishing off your celebration with any of the following: tangerines, egg rolls, tea, fortune cookies, almond cookies, rice cakes, dumplings (dumplings and egg rolls can be found in the frozen food section of your grocery store)
7) Year of the Zodiac: I think getting into the zodiac might be too much to include in this mini unit, but if you want to, 2019 is the year of the pig. Here’s a great link that will give you tons of information about the Chinese Zodiac: https://chinesenewyear.net/zodiac/
Here’s a short list of great books about the Chinese New Year:
Celebrate Chinese New Year by Carolyn Otto
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin
D is for Dragon Dance by Ying Change Compestine
Long-Long’s New Year: A story About the Chinese Spring Festival by Catherine Gower
Shante Keys and the New Year’s Peas by Gail Piernas-Davenport