Teaching Chinese New Year Traditions

January 19, 2022 No Comments

As one of the most important holidays in China it is imperative to teach Chinese New Year traditions to students. The problem that I seem to have is that I teach the same things and use the same activities year after year. This can get old for both me and them by the time they reach fourth grade. Below I’ve listed some ways you can change up how you teach Chinese New Year to students or gather some innovative ideas.

Teach Vocab

There is a lot of vocab to choose from. I always teach the Zodiac animals to Pre-K and up (download a free Zodiac Animal Worksheet HERE). These are relatable words that can be used many times throughout the school year. If you’re looking for an easy pre-made teaching tool for the Zodiac Animals. Check out my premade Zodiac animal Google Slides.

Easy Chinese New Year Vocab List – There are many more words that you can teach but here are some basics:

Check out the Lesson’s with Laoshi Chinese New Year Activity Pack on TPT. It includes both Google Slides and printable activity resources for your whole Chinese New Year Unit! Updated Yearly for each Zodiac animal and includes all the vocabulary in the chart above.

Read a Book

Books can open the imagination and give students a look into a different world. There are so many good Chinese New Year books in both English and Mandarin. Since my students are novice level, I usually read cultural stories in English. Here are a few of my favorites:

Pre-K to 1st Grade
Pre-K to 4th Grade

Craft it!

If you go to Pinterest and type “Chinese New Year” crafts and there are so many options! My personal favorite is the Chinese lantern. Students have so much fun making it and feel accomplished when they’ve finished.

My second favorite is an easy origami animal based on the Zodiac animal for that year. Check out this video for Year of the Tiger Origami head.

Bingo! 宾果!

After teaching Chinese New Year vocabulary, Bingo is a wonderful way to get students listening and engaging with the words. There are many affordable CNY Bingo cards you can buy. My favorite is this one from Amazon because it is has all the Zodiac animals and common Chinese New Year Words I plan to teach. It can also be played in English if your students are not ready to play in Mandarin.

Have Students Teach (Jigsaw Activity)

A Jigsaw Activity is when students teach each other instead of the teacher teaching students. This activity increases student engagement and information retention. If you’re interested in learning more details about how to manage a Jigsaw Activity, check out The Jigsaw Classroom for more information.

  1. Put students into groups of 2-3 depending on your class size.
  2. Assign each student a CNY tradition they will be in charge of teaching the class.
  3. Students either research the topic or you give groups the information.
  4. Students teach their CNY tradition while students listening write in a graphic organizer.

My school does not have a lot of technology for students to use for research so I will give each group a pre-made paper with the information about their tradition and any books I have on the topic. Students also enjoy creating their own props to go with their topic.

Sing Songs

Students, especially younger ones, love music! I teach two New Year’s songs: The classic Gongxi and a more modern New Year’s Song. Check out the YouTube Videos below:

I hope you found something to take away from this blog! Have any ideas I missed? Post it in the comments below!

Rachel Avrick

Originally from Washington D.C., I moved to Hong Kong when I was 19 to work for a charity in the Philippines. After one year in Asia I had fallen in love with the Chinese language and culture. I lived in Greater China for another 6 years in places like Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. While in Asia, I worked in education, non-profit, and finance. I double majored in Economics and Chinese with a minor in Asia Studies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Most recently I received my masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University. I love creating fun and engaging Mandarin lessons for students especially in elementary.

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Hi everyone, my name is Rachel (aka 卫老师). I have a passion for creating engaging lessons for young Mandarin learners. Lessons with Laoshi provides resources and insight for both parents and teachers looking for unique Mandarin lessons. While Lessons with Laoshi is focused on Mandarin education, I hope it can be a place for both parents and teachers of many different languages to gain insight. Read More