Whatever you call it, Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year (for those celebrating outside of China), this festival is two exciting weeks of parades, firework shows, cultural dishes, family reunion dinner, and dragons! Many Asian countries have big celebrations in the streets, decorate their houses, wear lucky colors, and give gifts.
So how can we bring this holiday and other aspects of Chinese culture into our homes and classrooms? Look no further! Here are 35 of the most creative, colorful, crafty, cultural, and best of all, lucky activity ideas for you to try with your kids in celebration.
1. Chinese Dragon Puppet
This fun and easy Chinese dragon craft can be done in the classroom or at home with your kids. The setup and design are simple, give your kids some red paint and glitter to paint the paper you will cut into the body shape. Then let them color the dragon head with markers and glue popsicle sticks to the ends for them to carry around and dance!
Learn more: Artsy Momma
2. DIY Dragon Bookmark
It's always a bonus when a craft encourages reading! These adorable dragon bookmarks can be made with origami paper, and the step-by-step instructions are easy to follow and great for motor skills practice! Get more creative DIY bookmark ideas here.
Learn more: Red Ted Art
3. Sweet Nian Gao
This sweet and glutinous rice cake treat is a favorite during this traditional holiday. The dough is soft and tacky and the inside is filled with sweet brown sugary strings! The auspicious color variations can be achieved using natural ingredients mixed into the dough.
Learn more: The Woks of Life
4. Coconut Rice Cakes
Another delicious and kid-friendly recipe for you! These fluffy cakes are easier to make than other traditional Chinese cakes because the ingredients are what you may have in your kitchen already, and you don't have to pound or steam them!
Learn more: Spot of Sunshine
5. Good Luck Ornaments
This fun family activity can be a crafty introduction to cultural traditions using Chinese symbols and a lucky color or two. You can find a printable for the ornament that your kids can color in themselves, then use some string or embroidery floss for the trimming.
Learn more: Made with Happy
6. DIY Firecrackers
These Chinese firecrackers are used to decorate the house, bring good luck, and ward off evil spirits. Here is a traditional craft that you can make easy with some recycled toilet paper rolls, red pants, and a hot glue gun!
Learn more: This West Coast Mommy
7. Paper Plate Panda
This panda craft is a nod to the Chinese culture and its most famous animal! There is not much you need for this project, and your kids can get creative in decorating their panda faces with googly eyes or cut-out holes to look through.
Learn more: Our Potluck Family
8. Homemade Fortune Cookies
This cookie recipe is perfect to make for a family reunion dinner. You can put personal fortunes inside and give them to your extended family members as gifts or after-meal treats!
Learn more: iFood TV
9. Pretend Chinese Restaurant
Turn your classroom into a Chinese restaurant for your kids to play pretend and learn about traditional foods and Asian culture. This kit comes with signs, menus, pictures, and even pretend food for students to engage with.
Learn more: Pre-K Pages
10. Hanging Orange Crafts
Oranges are a symbol of good luck and fortune during the Chinese New Year. They are in season and can be given to friends and family as part of the festive celebrations. Help your kids cut and fold their fruits and hang them at home or in class for decoration!
Learn more: Buggy and Buddy
11. Cheese Lanterns
This unique and edible craft is a great decoration as well as a party favor for dinner with family. You can buy Babybel cheese rounds at the market, each is covered in red wax, the perfect festive color for good luck! Then draw some lines or slice them and hang some silver beads from the bottom, so cute!
Learn more: Danya Banya
12. Lantern Stamps Craft
Time to wish away the bad luck with these wine cork stamp lanterns. Cut up some newspapers (if you can find Chinese newspapers these will look more authentic) and get some red and gold paints. Your kids can dip their corks in the paint and stamp the newspaper, then finish the lanterns with some black accents in marker or paint.
Learn more: Rubber Shoes and Elf Boots
13. Zodiac Animal Greeting Cards
There are 12 animals in the zodiac and each has special significance and meaning in the Chinese calendar. Each year has a Chinese zodiac sign, and you can celebrate this year's animal, as well as the others with these cute colorable greeting cards.
Learn more: Red Ted Art
14. Chinese Zodiac Wheel
You can find these printable wheels online and show your kids how to color them in and rotate them so the zodiac sign for this lunar calendar is aligned. Get creative with different colors or ask your kids to draw each animal on the wheel!
Learn more: Chalk Academy
15. DIY Chinese Pellet Drum
This ritual instrument is called "Bolang Gu" and it is a special part of Asian traditions during this fifteen-day celebration. Help your kiddos make their own by painting two paper plates, placing a wooden stick in between them, and stringing two small bells on the sides. Then staple or glue the plates together and rotate for the bells to make a drumming noise!
Learn more: Gift of Curiosity
16. Origami Fortune Cookies
Let's get ready for the next family gathering with these adorable paper fortune cookie crafts! This is one of those activities for kids that looks complicated but is actually really simple. Help your kids cut their pretty paper into a circle, place their fortune inside, fold the paper, then glue it into place.
Learn more: Red Ted Art
17. LEGO Zodiac Animals
This Chinese zodiac animal activity is for the Lego lovers out there! There are some tutorials online that show you how to piece together each animal, or you can get creative and design your own.
Learn more: Pinterest
18. DIY Chinese Red Envelopes
It is tradition for many Chinese people to give money to friends and family in red envelopes during the New Year celebration. They are lucky red and you can write the Chinese characters for good luck in gold paint.
Learn more: First Palette
19. Togetherness Tray
This delicious tasting tray is perfect for any family event during this 15-day holiday. Each item in the tray represents coming together, good luck, and harmony. Get inspiration for what sweet and salty treats you want on your tray and impress your guests.
Learn more: Creative Child
20. Snake-Shaped Foods
Whether it is the year of the snake or not, you can still celebrate it as part of the Chinese zodiac cycle. Here are a bunch of recipes and food ideas inspired by this zodiac animal. Cute snack trays, sweet cakes, and slithery sandwiches to amuse your hungry company.
Learn more: Lushome
21. Easy Bake Spring Rolls
Get your little helpers in the kitchen with you to make these kid-friendly Chinese spring rolls. You can have your kids cut up the veggies they want to put inside, and help you roll out the dough. Then they fill them, bast with egg wash and sesame seeds, then pop in the oven!
Learn more: Consortium Education
22. Chinese Paper Lanterns
This craft is great for the classroom with lots of students. You can pass out the construction paper in the traditional red or gold colors. Guide your kids in how to cut the paper so it flares out and let them decorate with stickers or paint for personal touches.
Learn more: Marin Mommies
23. Chinese New Year Bingo
Learn and review all the symbols, animals, decorations, and traditions with this special bingo card. This is a great party game for celebrations across cultures to help western countries get familiar with different components that make up the Lunar New Year.
Learn more: Maple Planners
24. Dancing Dragons Craft
Time for some color and movement with this festive and interactive craft! Let your kids' creativity shine by having them design their dragon with different colored paper and feathers.
Learn more: Super Simple
25. Books About Chinese New Year
There are so many amazing and informative picture books available that tell stories and teach about traditions and customs related to the Chinese New Year.
Learn more: Chalk Academy
26. Glutinous Rice Ball Recipe
This traditional sweet dessert is a must-have at your family gathering on the fifteenth day of celebration for the Lantern Festival. They are called "tang-yuan" and are made of flour, a sweet filling, and different natural colors.
Learn more: Tasty.co
27. Chinese Tea Ceremony
There are many interesting components of a Lunar Year tea ceremony that can be a fun lesson regarding Chinese food culture. Serving elders, giving out red packets of money, and partaking in traditional tea snacks.
Learn more: Little Wonders' Days
28. Dragon Dance Moves
Get your little ones up and moving like a dragon by watching traditional videos from Lunar festivals, or better yet, bring them to a local celebration! You should be able to find one near you during the Chinese New Year.
Learn more: CBC Canada
29. Chinese Phrases for the New Year
There are some short and simple phrases you can teach your kids to wish people good luck during the festivities. "Xin Nian Hao" or "Xin Nian Kuai Le" are two phrases meaning "Happy New Year"! Another useful phrase is the greeting "Gong Xi Fa Cai", which means "wishing you happiness and prosperity."
Learn more: Activity Village
30. Chinese New Year Songs
What better way to get in the festive spirit than singing and dancing! Here are some fun and easy songs to play for your kids so they can learn about Chinese traditions, move, and sing along.
Learn more: The Kiboomers - Kids Music Channel
31. I Spy Game for Chinese New Year
Get a free printable sheet of symbols and items related to Chinese New Year and play a fun memory and imagery game with your kids to help them learn about the holiday.
Learn more: Rainy Day Mum
32. Good Luck Goldfish
Goldfish are a symbol of good luck in Chinese culture, so get creative and help your kids make these colorful craft goldfish to give to their friends and family.
Learn more: Popsugar
33. Experience Firecracker Painting
This DIY art project is a beautiful representation of the excitement and wishes we make during the New Year's Day celebrations. You can make the firecrackers with cardboard rolls and the fireworks with q-tips and paints!
Learn more: DIY Art Pins
34. Chinese Lantern Suncatchers
These magical lantern window crafts are the perfect decoration for this Chinese holiday. There are a few steps to make them using contact paper, cellophane, and a sharpie outline of a lantern on white paper. The end results are stunning when they catch the sun.
Learn more: The Gingerbread House
35. Homemade Chinese New Year Fans
Handmade fans are a big part of the traditions related to the Lunar New Year. They are shaped like the full moon and represent happiness and union. They are used for many things, fanning, shade, decoration, and a statement of good luck to give someone. Help your kiddos design their own to fold into beautiful personalized fans.
Learn more: Little Passports