What is Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year)?
Before we go into the Chinese New Year activities for preschoolers that I have planned for this week, I thought I’d start by sharing what Chinese New Year is.
Chinese New Year is also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, and it’s a celebration of the beginning of the lunar calendar.
Lunar New Year falls on different days each year (usually in January or February). This year (2021) Chinese New Year is on February 12. And this year is the Year of the Ox.
I found this article on Oprah Mag if you want more information on Chinese New Year / Lunar New Year.
Chinese New Year is the biggest holiday in China. But other Asian countries such as South Korea also celebrate Lunar New Year.
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My Experience With Chinese New Year
I lived in China for 12 years (my family is not Chinese, we are ethnically Korean, but my parents worked there). Growing up there, I remember that Christmas and New Year was a very big celebration as it is here in the U.S.
I remember most of the people in my parents’ organization would go back to their hometowns to visit their families just once a year. And that was on Chinese New Year.
It was a huge holiday so even our international school would have Christmas vacation and then we would have a couple weeks back at school and then have a 2 week break for Chinese New Year.
Firecrackers on Chinese New Year
One of my other biggest memories of Chinese New Year was the firecrackers. Many people would set off firecrackers especially on Chinese New Year’s Eve right at midnight. This is traditionally said to scare off “bad spirits”.
It was extremely loud and and impossible to sleep through. I remember going out the next day to see our neighborhood covered in the remnants of firecrackers.
Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year) Activities for Preschoolers
On to the reason you are here! I am so excited to do these Chinese New Year / Lunar New Year inspired activities for preschoolers with my boys this week.
As mentioned above, quite a few Asian countries celebrate Lunar New Year, but our activities are specifically inspired by Chinese and Korean culture.
I shared above that firecrackers are a big part of Chinese New Year celebrations, so I thought it would be fun to make some firecrackers using toilet paper rolls and place them in a colored rice sensory bin!
I have loads of toilet paper rolls saved up and I’m always happy to find ways to use them 🙂
Day 2: Chinese-inspired Lanterns
We made some paper lanterns a couple months ago for our winter walk. This week, we will be making similar lanterns but we will be using red cardstock instead of the white paper we used last time.
And instead of using 2 paper cups, we will be upcycling a glass jar (from pasta sauce).
Here’s a quick video of our paper lanterns we used on our winter walk.
Day 3: Yut Nori 윷놀이 Korean Lunar New Year Game
We played this game earlier this month, since my family played this game on New Year’s Day.
However, many Koreans also play this game on Lunar New Year. So we also plan on playing this game again.
I made a video of our kids playing this game. Check out the link below!
Day 4: Korean Taegeuk Fan
I saw this idea on Chalk Academy and thought it would be a really fun activity to also incorporate Korean culture for our boys!
There is a free printable download from aerilynbooks to use for the fans.
Just seeing a picture of this fan made me feel so nostalgic! My grandparents had these fans in their homes, and I remember using them during the summers when we would visit them.
Here is how ours turned out!
Materials for Korean Taeguk Fan:
- Fan template
- Cardboard (we will be using an old cereal box)
- Popsicle stick
- Yellow, Red, and Blue Paint or Markers
Print out template and trace fan shape onto cardboard. We want to make 2 of these.
Color or paint using yellow, red, and blue colors. And let dry completely.
Glue the popsicle stick in between the two sides of the fan. And you’re done!
Day 5: Chinese New Year / Lunar New Year Colored Spaghetti Fine Motor Sensory Bin
I’ve been wanting to try making rainbow spaghetti noodles for a sensory bin, so I thought this would be a really fun activity for this week.
I will be making red, yellow, blue, and black spaghetti noodles to go along with some of the traditional South Korean colors.
I will place the dyed spaghetti noodles into our large sensory bin and will also give my boys plastic scissors from this kit to cut the noodles with.
My 2 year-old has been really interested in scissors and cutting recently, so I think this will be a great fine motor activity that he will enjoy.
Bonus Activity for Parents: Red Envelopes
Red envelope or Hong bao is a traditional gift that parents and other grownups give to children. (Spoiler alert: It’s money in a red envelope.)
If you want to try out this tradition this year, I found this awesome post by Chalk Academy that also includes a free printable!
Awesome Books for Preschoolers About Chinese New Year / Lunar New Year
We read this book in our New Year’s Day Unit as well, but I had to include this one again. Many Korean kids especially dress up in a hanbok for Lunar New Year. Also, I’m Korean-American and hanboks hold a special place in my heart 🙂
This one is a great book to introduce dragon dances. I also love that it’s a lift-the-flap book so it’s interactive for littles, and there are also some Chinese words included in the book as well.
A cute story of a girl wanting to visit her grandmother to celebrate Chinese New Year together. This one is a great one for introducing Chinese zodiac animals.
This book is a fun twist on the classic Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Maomao’s dad works far from home, and can only visit on Chinese New Year. This story was very heart-warming, but also heart-breaking to know that they is the reality of many families in China.
Letter Of The Week: R
We are learning the letter R this week! This printable will be included in this week’s lesson plan download.
Weekly Bible Memory Verse: Psalm 28:7
This week, we will be learning Psalm 28:7. This is one that I haven’t memorized before, and I’m looking forward to learning it with my son!
This printable will be included in this week’s lesson plan download. It really helps to have it printed and next to my son’s bed so we remember to practice it every night before bed.
Download Chinese (Lunar) New Year Unit Lesson Plan for Preschool
I hope you found these Chinese New Year activities for preschoolers interesting, and that you get to try one or two of them with your littles!
Fill out the form below to have this week’s lesson plan sent to your email. Free printables are included!
Teach Your Kids Korean
If you’re interested in teaching your kids Korean, I’ve recently started teaching mine! I created free Korean alphabet dot marker worksheets. Check them out here!
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