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Chinese New Year Lesson

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I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.

Chinese New Year Lesson Plan & Celebration Ideas

Chinese New Year Lesson Plan & Celebration Ideas

This is a concluding party following a 12 part a hands-on unit study on China, though it can also be a stand-alone lesson or celebration if you are looking for a simplified way to celebrate Chinese New Year using decorations, red envelopes, a Chinese Meal, fireworks, and so much more. Children's book suggestions and video clips are included.

Chinese New Year Read Aloud Books

1. Read PoPo's Lucky Chinese New Year by Virginia Loh-Hagan and The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang.

YOU WILL NEED: PoPo's Lucky Chinese New Year by Virginia Loh-Hagan and The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang or other books on Chinese New Year

Shoppers during the Chinese New Year holidays

Shoppers during the Chinese New Year holidays

Learning About the Chinese New Year

2. Briefly discuss Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year, is one of the most important holidays in China.

  • This 15 day holiday begins on the new moon that appears between January 21 and February 20.
  • It is a time for Chinese families to gather and to honor ancestors. Traditions include cleaning the house before the New Year (to sweep out bad luck), decorating with red paper-cutouts, giving money in red envelopes, and lighting firecrackers.
  • Watch the below videos on Chinese New Year.
Filling red envelopes with new dollar bills

Filling red envelopes with new dollar bills

Preparing for Chinese New Year

3. Prepare for Chinese New Year:

  • Clean some or all of your house as part of the preparations for Chinese New Year. You will need to do this ahead of time as you are supposed to do it BEFORE Chinese New Year. Traditionally, if you clean during Chinese New Year, you might sweep up your "good luck."
  • Read this article on how to celebrate Chinese New Year: https://www.wikihow.com/Celebrate-Chinese-New-Year

15. Add dollar bills, preferably newer bills, to red envelopes. You can purchase ones like we did or make your own. How much money you add depends on you. "Lucky" numbers include 8, 2, and 6. The "unluckiest" number is 4, so do not include only $4. (The word for "four" in Chinese sounds similar to the word for "death.")

YOU WILL NEED: Red envelopes with dollar bills inside - You can make your own envelopes or buy them (We bought ours as a set with decorations from AmazingValueDeal on amazon.)

Our Tray of Togetherness

Our Tray of Togetherness

Tray of Togetherness

4. Set out circular bowls of 8 treats as a simplified tray of togetherness to snack on while decorating. The number 8 is considered to be the luckiest number in China since, in Chinese, it sounds similar to the word for prosperity. (This idea came from malaysianchinesekitchen.com .) We set out:

  • Sweetened Coconut Flakes (Ye zi - for Togetherness & Family Unity)
  • Roasted Peanuts (Fa Sang - for Good Health and Longevity)
  • "Candied Winter Melon" (we used gummy vitamins) (Thong Tung Kwa - for growth & good health)
  • Pistachios (Hoi Sum Guo - for Happiness)
  • "Melon Seeds" (we used pepitas or you could use sunflower seeds) (Kua Chee - for Fertility & Many Offspring)
  • Candied Ginger (Keong Thong - for Growth & Good Health)
  • Mandarins (We used canned mandarins because that's what we had but fresh would have been better) (for Wealth & Prosperity)
  • Chocolate Gold Ingots (We used Rolos candies) (for Wealth & Prosperity)

YOU WILL NEED: the above foods or something similar

Decorating for Chinese New Year

Decorating for Chinese New Year

Decorations and Dress

5. Decorate for Chinese New Year. We purchased the 58 piece set from AmazingValueDeal or you can make your own.

YOU WILL NEED: Red Chinese New Year decorations

6. Dress in red or dress in traditional Chinese clothing. (Avoid wearing black.)

YOU WILL NEED: Red clothing or traditional Chinese clothing

Honoring our ancestors by learning about them through stories and photos

Honoring our ancestors by learning about them through stories and photos

Honoring our Ancestors

(If you are doing this lesson with your family, be sure to plan this when your entire family can participate as one of the main points of this holiday is for families to be together.)

7. Honor our ancestors: Look through pictures of older relatives and share a few stories about some of them. (If you're doing this with a class or co-op, instead have each child bring a photo of their grandparents or other special relative and share a little bit about those people or that person.)

YOU WILL NEED: Pictures of older relatives

Receiving a red envelopes with money inside

Receiving a red envelopes with money inside

Red Envelopes

8. Pass out red envelopes with money.

Chinese New Year Meal

Chinese New Year Meal

Chinese New Year Meal

9. Serve a Chinese New Year Meal: noodles in peanut sauce (I didn't break the spaghetti noodles as the noodles are supposed to be long to wish someone a long life), cucumbers, mandarin oranges, & oolong tea.

YOU WILL NEED: a traditional Chinese New Year Meal such as the one above

Finishing the Chinese New Year celebration with a fireworks show

Finishing the Chinese New Year celebration with a fireworks show

Fireworks

10. To celebrate Chinese New Year, fireworks and firecrackers are set off multiple times and for multiple reasons throughout the celebration period.

  • They are set off on New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, and the fifth and the fifteenth day of the new year (Lantern Festival).
  • The fireworks and firecrackers are supposed to invite ancestors to join in the family reunion, scare away evil spirits, bring good luck and fortune into the family, dispel bad luck, and symbolize people's good wishes to the future.

11. Watch the below video of the Chinese New Year fireworks show.

12. Set off fireworks or firecrackers. If it's illegal where you live, instead try party poppers or sparklers.

YOU WILL NEED: fireworks, firecrackers, party poppers, or sparklers

Best Children's Book List for Chinese New Year

Best Children's Book List for Chinese New Year

  • PoPo's lucky Chinese New Year by Virginia Loh-Hagan
  • The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang
  • Happy, Happy Chinese New Year! by Demi
  • Chinese New Year Wishes: Chinese Spring and Lantern Festival Celebration by Jillian Lin
  • Bringing In the New Year by Grace Lin
  • Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift-the-Flap Book by Joan Holub
  • The Dragon New Year by Dave Bouchard
  • Nian, The Chinese New Year Dragon by Virginia Loh-Hagan
chinese-new-year-lesson
chinese-new-year-lesson

Over the years I have posted over 40 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 170 lessons. The unit studies include the Human Body, Simple Machines, Japan, Earth Science, Medieval Period, American Revolution, Russia, Pioneer Life, Countries of the World, and many more! I've also included lessons on celebrating Thanksgiving using semi-authentic dishes, preparing for Christmas, celebrating Reformation Day, and celebrating St. Patrick's Day. For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons at Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies .

© 2021 Shannon

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