Adele has been a youth services librarian for 25 years and a mother to a daughter from China for 20 years.
Chinese Zodiac Coloring Pages
All of these printable coloring sheets which feature Chinese zodiac animals are designed for children, including preschoolers, kindergarteners, and elementary school kids. The images are used under license from iStock. Permission is granted to print them for personal, classroom, or library use, but not for commercial use.
I also have several more articles connected to Chinese New Year on the Web. If you search “Adele Jeunette” and “Chinese New Year,” you will find additional coloring pages and lots articles for the different years with educational printables including lanterns, lucky red envelopes, bookmarks, and other craft projects.
Link for Chinese Zodiac Coloring Sheets
Here is the link for the Chinese Zodiac Coloring Sheets. There are 6 sheets in the document. Remember to set your print if you only want certain sheets. Below, you can see photos of what each sheet looks like.
The Animals’ Race: A Story of the Chinese Zodiac
You may have noticed that the animals always occur in a particular order. This is a story that explains how that order came to be. If you would like to have a play that children can act out, see The Animals’ Race: A Play About the Chinese Zodiac.
Here is the story:
One day, long ago in China, the Jade Emperor decided that all the years should have a name so that people could tell the years apart.
He decided that he would name each year after an animal, and proclaimed that the animals would have a race across a wide river. The first twelve animals to cross the river would each have one of the years named after them.
All the animals were excited as they made their way to the starting line: the rabbit, the horse, the rooster, the dog, the ox, the tiger, the goat, the monkey, the dragon, the snake, the pig--and, finally, the rat.
Now, the rat was late because he had been talking with the cat. At this time, the rat and the cat were still friends. When rat had heard about the race, he ran in to see the cat. He said, “Have you heard about the race the Jade Emperor is going to have? We should join.”
The cat, who had been napping, stretched and said, “I’ll win, of course. But,” he yawned, “I’ll need my sleep. You come and wake me up when it’s time.
Rat said, “That cat has been so bossy lately that he makes me angry. At first, I was going to wake him up, but I changed my mind. So, I ran here instead.”
The pig said, “You mean cat is still asleep?”
“Serves him right!” said the rat. “He is too lazy to even pay attention to what time the race starts!”
Now, when they had all lined up and were ready to go, the Jade Emperor gave the signal for everyone to start the race. The ox jumped in right away, and soon she was ahead because she was such a strong swimmer. (What she didn’t know was that the clever little rat had quietly climbed on her back.) The ox reached the shore and had just a little ways to go to the finish line.
She said, “I’m the first one out of the water. I knew that strong and steady would win the race.” But just then, the rat leaped off the ox and scampered across the finish line.
“I win!” shouted the rat. “Sometimes the cleverest one wins the race.”
Iindeed, the Jade Emperor proclaimed Rat to be the first animal in the zodiac. Ox had the honor of being second. Just then, Tiger came swimming up to place third. The rabbit, who had hopped onto a floating log, finished fourth.
In fifth place came the dragon. “On my way, I saw some villagers whose crops were drying up,” he said. “So, I stopped to help them and make it rain.”
The horse was the next animal out of the water, but wouldn’t you know, the snake managed to slither by and take sixth place. Horse finished seventh.
Sheep, Monkey, and Rooster all found a raft at the beginning of the race, and they paddled as quickly as they could across the river.
Sheep finished in eighth place, Monkey in ninth, and Rooster in tenth. Next was the dog. “That was so much fun!” she said, shaking water out of her fur. I love playing in the water. I’m a little late, but I don’t mind. I’m still number 11.”
And the last one to finish? Well, you can probably guess. Pig was number twelve. He said, “I would have been here sooner, but I stopped for a small snack. I do have to keep my strength up, you know.”
The Jade Emperor then announced, “You have all run the race, each in your own way. And I am proud to name a year after each of you.”
But what about the cat? Remember, he was napping and depending on the rat to wake him up.
After the race was over, the cat finally woke up and stretched. “That was a good nap,” he said. Then he noticed that the sun was high in the sky. “Why didn’t Rat wake me up?” he said, in a panic.
He frantically dashed to the starting line, only to find that the he had missed his chance and the race was over.
And that is why the cat was left out of the Chinese zodiac.
And, that is why--to this very day--a cat will always chase a rat whenever he sees one.
© 2021 Adele Jeunette