Chinese New Year (observed by one-sixth of the world’s population: that’s HUGE!) is also known as Tet, Spring Festival, and Lunar New Year. We asked our Teacher-Authors what they’d be doing with their students during the celebrations. Check out these great ideas, and consider incorporating some of them into your classroom.



Go On A Culinary Adventure

The ESL Nexus is lucky: “I taught in China for three and a half years at the university level before becoming an ESL teacher at a K-8 school in Massachusetts. For several years, I demonstrated in class how to cook tang yuan (which are glutinous rice balls with different types of fillings), and students took notes on the process. They then had to write a composition on how to cook tang yuan. The students went through the writing process to edit, revise, peer edit, rewrite, and publish their writing. But perhaps the best part was eating the rice balls!

Additionally, I have a handout describing the characteristics of each animal in the Chinese zodiac as well as the birth years for them; students read them and discuss if they conform to their animal’s traits. Based on these ideas, I created my Chinese New Year Writing Activities (CCSS Aligned) resource (grades 3-6), with background information about Chinese New Year and the Chinese zodiac.”

Share Personal Stories

Happy Days in First Grade says, “Chinese New Year is one of my favorite holidays as it’s very close to my heart and reminds me so much of my family and culture. As a Vietnamese-American, I’ve been blessed to celebrate both the New Year in January and Chinese New Year, or more commonly known as Tet in Vietnam, at the end of January or February every year. During the Tet, my family cleans and decorates our house with yellow and pink spring flowers, prepares our ancestors’ altars by offering fresh fruits and traditional cakes, dresses up in our traditional long dresses, attends mass at our Catholic church to pray for a good and prosperous year, and watches dragon dances in the local markets. Plus, children receive lucky money as they wish their elders ‘Happy New Year.’

In my classroom, I love sharing my personal stories and memories of Chinese New Year with my students while also encouraging them to celebrate and learn more about Asian cultures. Along with showing students my traditional long dresses and pictures of my family celebrating the holiday, I also read various Chinese New Year themed stories and discuss facts and different ways people in different Asian countries celebrate. Furthermore, I encourage my students to take part in the celebration through writing about it using graphic organizers, identifying their Chinese Zodiac and its meaning, playing a Chinese Zodiac game that is very similar to what children in Vietnam play during the celebration, discussing various vocabulary words, parading a mini dragon around the classroom, and making their own Lucky Money envelopes.” Here’s the link to her Chinese New Year {Printables, Vocabulary Cards, Signs, Game, & More} K-2 resource.

Make Some Noise!

“We do an interactive Chinese New Year with tons of props,” says Kid World Citizen. “The students’ favorite is the bubble paper we lay down at the end for them to march over in a parade with their red lanterns (to simulate fireworks). The kids LOVE it! Here’s the packet with the details: Chinese New Year Math and Literacy Unit ~ Holidays Around the World (CC Aligned) (grades PreK-1).”

Jennifer Dowell says, “We celebrate Lunar New Year at our school. We have a large population of Vietnamese students. Our school has a Lunar New Year parade with the Vietnamese students going up and down the halls with their traditional dress on. In the classroom, I give each of my students a lai see (red envelope with coins), and we eat popcorn with chopsticks — they think that is so fun. I also have some Chinese New Year activities I do with them.” Here’s the link to her Chinese New Year Unit (grades 1-3).

Celebrate with Close Reading and Word Work

“We’re in the middle of our ELA unit on traditions, so I’m very excited to celebrate the Chinese New Year with my students,” says Pinkadots Elementary. “We’re comparing the Chinese New Year with the New Year celebrations in the United States by close reading two texts. The texts cover traditions, culture, history, and activities. After synthesizing both articles, students will then write a response on the differences and similarities of both celebrations. My hallway bulletin board is up and waiting for some wonderful writing! The activities mentioned above can be found here: Traditions! Nonfiction Differentiated Text. Text Structures Review (grades 3-5).”

If it’s word work you’re looking for, look to Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans who says, “We celebrate in our classroom by incorporating Chinese New Year into our word work centers. Students learn about the culture and customs through a close reading passage along with task cards featuring homophone work, pronouns, sentence-combining, and synonym vocabulary. I also give my students fortune cookies, and we write good luck messages to our parents in our Communication Journals. The activities I mentioned can be found in my resource, Celebrate Chinese New Year in the Upper Grades (grades 3-6).”

Resources for High School 

History Gal suggests, “Learn about China with my Ancient China Stations Activity (grades 6-10).”

Or try Lisa Goodell’s QR Code Fun: Chinese New Year – Interactive Notebook Add-in (grades 2-10).

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Let the celebrations begin! If you’re looking for more great ways to incorporate Chinese New Year into your curriculum, be sure to search Teachers Pay Teachers for Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year.

(Thank you Catia Dias for the Twisted Digital Paper and Great Hall Academy of Learning for the “people with dragon image” from your Chinese New Year Lesson Plans 2015 resource!)

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