Celebrating Chinese New Year with Kids: Activities and Crafts
Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is the most important celebration in China, lasting 15 days and culminating with the Lantern Festival. This year, the Year of the Rabbit will begin on January 22nd, and it’s a fantastic opportunity to teach children about different cultures and traditions – this helps them learn how people’s beliefs differ and can encourage a good attitude toward diversity.
A good starting point is to get your child to find out what their Chinese Zodiac sign is – they could look up the signs for friends and family too, which can start a discussion about what year people were born, how long ago grandparents were born, and so on.
Colours are symbolic in Chinese culture, so encourage your child to incorporate this into their craft designs. For New Year’s, the colours used are red (which symbolises luck, happiness and joy) and gold (for wealth and riches).
In this article, we’ll explore some ideas for getting your child involved in Chinese New Year and learning about Chinese culture.
Act out the story of the Chinese Zodiac
Do you know why the zodiac signs are in a specific order? The Chinese zodiac is based on a twelve-year cycle, with each year represented by an animal: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.
You can find a version of the legend of the Jade Emperor and his animal guards here. One way to start teaching children about Chinese New Year is to read the story with your child and have them retell it with their own comic strip, play, finger puppet show, or stop-motion animation.
They can also look up the signs of friends and family, which can spark interesting discussions about birthdays and generations.
Try some Chinese cuisine
Introducing your child to new flavours is an exciting way to learn about Chinese culture. Get them involved in the preparations by cooking simple Chinese meals at home, such as stir-fry or dumplings. You can also teach them Chinese dining etiquette, such as using chopsticks or serving dishes family-style.
Learn to count in Mandarin
China is home to 56 ethnic groups and around 297 different languages; however, Mandarin is the most commonly used language.
You can start by teaching them to count to ten with this fun rap song that they’ll love singing along to.
Explore with sensory play
Make some red play dough and add some Chinese spices so your child can experience some new smells. Put some accessories alongside it for the children to explore: chopsticks, gold coins, bamboo, gold pipe cleaners, gold and red glitter. This is a great activity for discussing the Chinese culture while strengthening hand and finger muscles and promoting curiosity.
Chinese Craft ideas
Chinese coin tree
This craft idea involves using coins to stamp gold paint onto red paper to create a coin tree. Hang it on the wall as a decoration or give it as a gift to share good luck and prosperity.
Paper Chinese dragon
The dragon is a symbol of power, strength, and luck in Chinese culture. Make eye-catching paper dragons with colourful card, glue, and sequins. For younger children, you can create templates or pre-cut pieces to use.
These simple and effective Chinese fans are perfect for children who enjoy drawing. Just draw a design and fold! This craft helps promote fine motor skills and encourages creativity.
Chinese paper lanterns
Children can make beautiful red and gold lanterns with this scissor skill activity. They can make as many as they like, from giant lanterns to miniature ones, and learn about the symbolism of colours in Chinese culture.
Paper folding (zhezhi)
The name origami is a Japanese term from the words oru (to fold) and kami (paper). In China, the art of folding paper is referred to by the Chinese name zhezhi.
This is another great activity for encouraging children to listen, concentrate and follow instructions – it is also great for fostering a sense of achievement once children have made their final piece
In conclusion, celebrating the Chinese New Year with your kids is a great way to experience and learn about different cultures. Engaging in activities like learning about the Chinese Zodiac, trying Chinese cuisine, exploring sensory play, and making crafts can be fun and educational for both children and adults.
By participating in these activities, children can develop a positive attitude towards diversity, build their confidence, and develop new skills. So, embrace the festivities and celebrate the Year of the Dog with your family!