Chinese New Year

This post is filled with video clip and links that will make your classroom Chinese New Year Celebration Perfect!

I am hoping that this are going to be blog posts you can teach right off of! Some district blog blogs on their firewalls. Some are cool. Either way I hope this post brings you lots of great ideas for teaching this holiday!

Today's "Teach with Me" Post  is Chinese New Year! Another name for this holiday is Lunar New Year. The new name is gaining momentum because not all people who celebrate the lunar new year are Chinese.  I am going to refer to the holiday on both names. You can choose the one that best suit you. 

When Is the Lunar New Year?

This holiday changes months from year to year because the Lunar Calendar is used to determine the date.  A lunar calendar month is 28 days, thus the changes.  It is always celebrated in either January or February.

It's a fun fact to teach your class that each year is also named after an animal. Animals have very different characteristics, and children born during a specific year take on those characteristics. Here are the dates of upcoming Chinese new years as well as the years your students were probably born in.  

Rabbit- February 3, 2011

Dragon- January 23, 2012
Snake - February 10, 2013
Horse -January 31, 2014
Goat - February 19, 2015
Monkey -  February 8, 2016
Rooster -  January 28, 2017
Dog -  February 16, 2018
Pig - February 5, 2019
Rat-  January 25, 2020
Ox- February 12, 2021
Tiger- February 1, 2022
Rabbit- January 22, 2023
Dragon - Feb 10, 2024
Snake- January 29, 2025

If you want to look up the characteristics of each animal/ birth year you can google it.  I don't get to into the zodiac with my students, but you can if you would like! 

Chinese New Year Books:
These are some wonderful books about this special holiday. Your local library might have copies of these treasures. These are my favorites.

CNY books

Chinese New Year Family Prep:
Did you know that before New Year’s Day, Chinese families clean their home from top to bottom? They do this to sweep away the bad luck from the old year.  The whole family cleans together! The day before everyone gets a fresh hair cut too!

At midnight they will open the doors and windows to let out any left over bad luck and also to welcome in the New Year.

Red Envelopes:
When children awake on New Year’s Day they will find red envelopes. This is their lucky money !

Check out the special way Sam spends his lucky money on the Scholastic channel on You Tube. Click the book cover to view on You Tube. 

Who wouldn’t like some Lucky Money? Your students sure would!


Click here to link you to Martha Stewart’s free template. Simply run on red paper. I ask a room mom to make them for me, and then I fill them with a few coins, mostly pennies and a dime. Then we practice counting on from 10. This helps with place value counting.  If you used paper money you could have the kids count large numbers. Several dimes and pennies. I would not include nickles because that is not how we count place value. 

The Dragon Dance:

CNY dance

The Dragon Dance (click the pic to go to You Tube) is one of the best parts of Chinese New Year. The Dragon is not real, but it is said that he brings good luck to you. You can see from the picture that the Dragon is actually a Huge puppet.  The people underneath make him move and “dance” / chase a ball on a stick. Sometimes the ball on the stick is thought to be a pearl that the dragon is chasing. Sometimes it's a golden ball.  

The Color Red:
People celebrating Chinese New Year will often wear red. That's because red is considered to be a very lucky color. The children in this picture are also holding lanterns. They are going to walk in the lantern parade. 

Lantern Parade:
My class has done a parade for the last two years. One year we did a dragon dance {of sorts}. I used my template from our dragon hats to make a BIG dragon head and tail. I held the head and the kids followed behind me. Each child held red sheets of construction paper with their New Year’s goals written on them. Each child and their red goal sheet made up the dragon’s body. One of my students carried a boom box and wore the tail on the back of his shirt. The music we played we traditional Chinese music downloaded from itunes.  Now I could probable just carry my bluetooth speakers and use my phone to play the music.  We were a very cute dragon

After the parade, I used the head and tail to make our ABC ORDER Dragon.

Our school colors are red and black… Hence my color choices.


I like to change things up year to year, so this year we planned to walk with the lanterns we made and have our own First Grade Lantern Parade. I even downloaded new music.

But then it was raining.

Then it was hailing for a minute.

At one point I think snowed. I don’t really know what snow is…outside of a ski slope...(So. California Girl) But it was soft and white and did not bounce off the ground…. Is that snow????

Anyway, the parade was cancelled due to crazy weather. So we hung our lanterns instead. 


To do your own lantern parade... Attach your lantern to a pencil using tape. Download Chinese New Year music and Boom: Instant Lantern Parade.

Pandas of China:
Panda bears can only be found in China. This makes them a natural fit for Chinese New Year. My students loved reading about pandas and making them for art. Of course, you know how I feel about art…. “gotta make it smart”…. So we wrote all over the bellies and backs of these little Pandas.

Here is our fluency passage that I displayed and tomorrow’s alliteration lesson. I'm sorry the photos are blurry!


Literacy Little Book:
We read a book all about Chinese New Year.


This 9 page "Little Book" is easy to photocopy and gives you all the facts that you need to teach the kids about Chinese New Year. My favorite part is that each page is interactive in nature.  There are instructions to follow that make this book fun and the perfect review of many 1st and 2nd grade skills. 

Page 2: Color the map of China/ write synonyms for big.Page 3: Find and color this year’s Chinese Zodiac animal
Page 4: Rhyming with the word “night”
Page 5. Draw and label
Page 6. Draw lucky money.
Page 7. Do you enjoy eating rice?
Page 8. Tally your classmates responses about using chopsticks.
Page 9. Writing a good luck fortune.

Then we took two tests.

Science-Panda Bears

Social Studies- Chinese New Year


Chinese New Year Classroom Feast:
What fun day in first grade could be complete without food????



I went to to the local Golden Chopsticks (at lunch) and picked up two orders of Orange Chicken. You can also buy it frozen, ask a room- mom to cook it, and bring it in for the class.

I bring in my rice cooker from home. This rice is the best to make

Traditional “sticky rice”:

Rinse it first.
Dump about 2 cups into cooker.
Cover 2 inches over the top of the rice with water.
Hit cook!
Easy !

Some of my chopsticks experts enjoyed showing their friends how to eat with them. One little girl was helping her dude shoulder partner with his chopsticks and it was pretty sweet. 

“Put your fingers here,” she kept saying…

I think he ended up eating with his fingers…. after stabbing his food. But he never asked for a fork.

Because in first grade we "Never give up" What a trooper!


Math Graphing:
So do they Love rice???? Was there really any doubt???


I like that this graphing activity asks them to “think and articulate” what the graph is telling them. This is a deeper form of data analysis.

I really love Chinese New Year!

Can you tell ? ? ?

I created a week's worth of learning because the kids and love it so much!

ABC Order
Synonyms and Antonyms Activity/Game/Center
Panda Science Fluency
Panda Science Test
Writing- Word of the Day “China”
Writing- Word of the day “Pandas”
“I love Rice” Math Graphing
Chinese New Year Poem and Rubric
Bulletin Board / Vocabulary Wall images
Panda Smart Art
Dragon Hats Art
Chinese Lanterns Art

Will you please help me share this joy with your friends on Pinterest? This tall image below is perfect for Pinterest.

I look forward to doing this unit every year! It is one of my favorite days in the whole entire school year. That's how fun (and academic) this unit is! It’s on TpT ready and waiting for you!

Remember to download your free Red Envelope Template from Martha Stewart.

Click tpt