The Christmas decorations are put away and the fireworks are finished, but the celebrating continues as Chinese Lunar New Year starts on Sunday, January 22, 2023! If you’re looking to expand your students’ cultural horizons, what better way to kick off a new semester than with free, fun Chinese New Year Activities for your classroom!
This 23-day celebration is the perfect time to incorporate some Chinese New Year lesson plans into your schedule. To help with the planning process, we’ve included several inquisitive and engaging Chinese New Year activities designed to enhance your classroom instruction. Whether it’s developing student research skills, playing Chinese New Year games, or completing themed worksheets, we have it right here for you: bookmark this page as your go-to destination for Chinese New Year teacher resources!
We’ve also included a Chinese New Year literary passage with original Piqosity reading questions for students to try their hand at, as well as an original Piqosity math problem-set with a festive flair!
2023 is the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese Lunar Calendar
Also called Spring Festival, Chinese New Year is the biggest holiday in Chinese culture, and it’s similar in scale to the holiday season in the United States between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. In 2023, people will start celebrating on January 21st (Little New Year) and banks and government offices close for 7 days beginning on New Year’s Eve (January 31st). The holiday ends with the celebration of the Lantern Festival on February 5th.
The Chinese Zodiac calendar rotates between twelve animals, and 2023 is the year of the Rabbit. People born in the year of the rabbit (2023, 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939…) are supposed to exhibit traits of strength and braveness.
Just like in the United States for Thanksgiving and Christmas, Chinese families reunite for this major holiday. In fact the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the “biggest human migration on the planet” as more than 400 million people normally travel from school or work back to their hometowns to celebrate with their friends and family.
Traditional celebrations include setting off fireworks on New Years Eve (fireworks were invented in China) and eating lucky foods like fish, dumplings, and noodles.
- Eating fish is supposed to bring good fortune, because the Chinese Mandarin word for fish “鱼 yú” is pronounced exactly the same as the word for surplus or bounty, as in a bountiful harvest.
- Eating dumplings is supposed to bring wealth, because historically the shape of a dumpling also looked like that of a Chinese silver ingot.
- Eating noodles is supposed to represent long life, because they’re long in shape!
In Chinese Mandarin, you can wish someone a happy new year by saying “新年快乐 xīn nián kuài lè,” which means “Happy New Year” or ” 恭喜发财 gōng xǐ fā cái,” which means “may you have a happy and prosperous new year.” The festival period itself is generally referred to as “春节 Chūn Jié,” which means Spring Festival.
Chinese New Year Classroom Activities
We’ve curated this collection of classroom activities themed around Chinese New Year so that you can select which resource is right for your classroom! Educate your students about this important holiday, facilitate their explorations of the Chinese zodiac, and spread good luck and fortune with the help of these tools.
1. Chinese New Year Webquest
Sending your students on a Webquest is a great way to get them to practice their research skills. This webquest includes six pages of questions and prompts for students to explore; in searching for the correct answer(s) on the internet, students can develop their online research skills. This Webquest is aimed at at middle school students, and would pair perfectly with a lesson on how to use search engines for classroom research. Every question on the webquest relates to an aspect of Chinese New Year, with topics ranging from the history of the holiday to traditional practices, decor, and more!
Created and made available for free download by Elizabeth Yu.
2. Chinese New Year Boggle and Other Activities
Our next set of Chinese New Year activities is this 10-page packet, which includes an introductory story about the 12 zodiac animals, a coloring sheet, word search, Boggle game activity, tangram activity, Chinese lantern activity, explanation of each zodiac animal and their corresponding years, a page of common Mandarin phrases, and a writing prompt to round it off! While some of the activities, particularly the crafts, are better suited for younger grades, these can easily be adapted to accommodate older students.
Created and made available for free download by From Chopsticks to Mason Jars.
3. Morning Math and Reading Warm Ups
These Chinese New Year math and reading activities are a great way to start the school day in your classroom. The packet includes 19 pages of themed activities focusing on reading comprehension and mathematics practice. These warm-ups are designed for students at a middle school reading and math level.
Created and made available for free download by EdHelper.
4. Chinese New Year Coordinate Map—Locate the Zodiac!
This activity is perfect for grade levels learning about coordinate planes, from 4th grade to even pre-Algebra. Students will be faced with a coordinate plane of the first quadrant that has the Chinese zodiac animals scattered throughout. Their task is simple—identify the coordinate location of each animal! A quick assignment for early finishers or a warm-up, this is a great way to refresh your learners’ knowledge of cordinate planes and the x- and y-axes after the winter break.
Created and made available for free download by Inspire and Educate.
5. Free Reading and Writing about Chinese New Year
Our penultimate featured activity will help your scholars practice their reading comprehension and writing skills. This task includes a reading passage about Chinese New year and some cultural practices surrounding the holiday, such as wearing red and gold clothing to bring good luck or hanging up lanterns near the end of celebrations. After reading this passage, students will answer 5 reading comprehension questions to test their focus and newfound knowledge, followed by a writing excersize asking them to compare Chinese New Year traditions to their own New Years’ traditions. This ELA practice teaches students how to place themselves in a greater cultural context.
Created and made available for free download by Lisa’s Learning Shop.
6. Chinese New Year Zodiac Survey
Our list of educator-created resources ends with a homework activity for students that prompts them to spend some time with family to celebrate this holiday. Since the Chinese zodiac changes by year, your students’ signs will have very little variation between each other; so, have your students explore this topic with their family! This activity will task them with asking other members of their family what year they were born—then, they will look at the attached chart for their corresponding zodiac animal. They’ll have a blast comparing with the family members closer in age to them and seeing how their family members’ zodiac animals compare to their personality!
Created and made available for free download by Maggie Canniff.
Chinese New Year Reading Comprehension Questions by Piqosity
Our own Piqosity team has developed the following original reading comprehension questions, covering a variety of English Language Arts subtopics. In this passage, students will learn about the differences between Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year, explore the social perceptions of each holiday, and become familiar with aspects of Chinese astrology.