Chinese New Year in the classroom - 28 January 2017

We've updated last year's post so you can enjoy Chinese New Year in the classroom in 2017.

Chinese New Year is an important festival in China and people can get up to a week off during this time. As a child growing up in the UK, the things I looked forward to most were the ‘lai see’, the little red envelopes of money and the delicious food. 

There are many traditions and superstitions involved such as buying new clothes and items for the home except for shoes and books to not getting a haircut in the first lunar month of the New Year and even not showering on Chinese New Year’s Eve. Once I was in Paris during Chinese New Year and it was really exciting to see lion dancing and experience the thrill of watching long strings of firecrackers going off on the street

You may have heard the story of how the Chinese zodiac was created and the race between the animals to see who would come first. There is a lot of fun and interesting information about Chinese New Year that can be used in the classroom.

1. Story of Chinese New Year

A great way to introduce Chinese New Year and use storytelling in the class.

This video on YouTube uses animation to tell the story of Chinese New Year and the Chinese zodiac.


Activity Village has some resources on the Chinese zodiac story you can print and use in class.

2. Exploring the Chinese zodiac

2016 is the year of the Monkey. Students can find out their own zodiac sign and their family members and see if they match the characteristics.

This website helps you work out your Chinese zodiac animal and tells you about the characteristics of each zodiac.

3. The Chinese lunar calendar

Chinese New Year was on 8 February last year and it changes every year because the Chinese calendar is based on cycles of the moon. Students can learn about the differences of using a lunar calendar, work out when next year's Chinese New Year is going to be, and explore other cultures that use a lunar calendar.

4. Chinese New Year Traditions

Students can discover the traditions and preparations that take place during Chinese New Year.

5. Chinese New Year Crafts

Have your class make Chinese New Year decorations for the classroom.

6. Learn Chinese New Year Greetings

The most popular Chinese New Year greeting is ‘Kung Hei Fat Choi’ in Cantonese. Many of the Chinese people that settled in the UK are originally from Hong Kong which was a part of the Canton province so Cantonese was the most common Chinese dialect in the UK. 

Today there are many Chinese people studying and visiting from other parts of China and they speak Mandarin so students can try to learn both and explore the differences.

In Mandarin

In Cantonese

7. Chinese New Year Food

Students can discover what is eaten during Chinese New Year and the symbolism behind the dishes.

8. Explore lion dancing

Students can discover the history and symbolism behind lion dancing. Here are some lesson plan ideas which include making lion dance puppets.


Other Chinese New Year resources and ideas

Twinkl website has printouts and card templates.

Scholastic website has lesson plans and activity ideas.
Activity village has printable puzzles.  

A video of lion dancing in Hong Kong.

Are you doing anything for Chinese New Year with your class? If so, share your ideas with us!

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