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“Gung hay fat choy!” I wish you a prosperous new year!!

Known as “Spring Festival” in China, Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Chinese calendar. This year, Chinese New Year begins on February 19th  and is the year of the sheep.

Learning about other cultures and traditions is engaging, high-interest, and fun for children and families. I have compiled a list of books, recipes, activities, crafts, and printables to help you celebrate and learn about Chinese New Year.



Celebrate Chinese New Year through quality children’s literature!

1. Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift the Flap Book by Joan Holub

Dragon Dance

Children LOVE lift the flap books. Hold the interest of those with shorter attention spans while introducing the holiday through bright pictures and an overview of what the celebration looks like through the eyes of a child.

2. Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn


 This is one of my favorite books that introduces Chinese New Year. Children will be introduced to several components of the celebration, but will also have an opportunity to consider ethics, problem solving, finances, generosity, poverty, etc. This is a fantastic read.

 3. Lanterns and Firecrackers by Johnny Zucker


Follow the simple story of a family who prepares for the new year with decorations, dances, firecrackers, and the festival of the lanterns.

4. Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin


Bright illustrations and lively descriptions of Chinese culture, traditions, and beliefs make this book an excellent read-aloud for Chinese New Year.


Celebrating the holidays with food is fun, easy, and a great vehicle for memory making.

1. Fortune Cookies

cny (1 of 5)

Mine were not picture-perfect, but they tasted great and were fun to make and eat! The above link is a great recipe that requires almost nothing! My six year old thought it was SUPER fun to write the fortunes. We all had a good laugh as we opened our cookies after dinner. Our favorite? “You’re going to be a soda can.” Oh the things kids think up. What will your fortune be? Try these cookies and find out!

cny (2 of 5)

2. Dragon Cupcakes


Hoosier Homemade created this adorable cupcake dragon.

2013 was the Year of the Snake. Here are a few “snake” treats to help you celebrate.

animal-shaped-foods-large.ashx*I found the picture HERE.

How adorable is this crescent dog?! My kids LOVE this meal. It’s quick and easy, and honestly, a snake never looked so delicious.


Make snack-time fun and healthy with this awesome fruit snake. Thanks to Super Healthy Kids for the idea.

Year of the Horse foods may be a bit harder to come up with. I would love your ideas!

Here is a LONG list of great authentic Chinese food recipes. Adding soy sauce to things is as about as authentic as we get at my house. Better to get some recipes from someone who knows! Check out Steamy Kitchen.

Egg Rolls – When fried up golden brown, the gold color represents wealth

Noodles- represent longevity

Shrimp – happiness and joy

Dumplings – wealth


Craft your way to a joyous Chinese New Year!

1. Chinese Paper Dragon

cny (3 of 5)

We had a TON of fun with this little craft. (This is  a great one for the craft-challenged too!) Simply start with a square piece of paper. Cut into a circular spiral. On the smallest end of your spiral (in the center), attach a paper dragon head. I made mine by gluing some cut paper shapes together. (I also added googly eyes…just because they’re fun!) Wave your dragons through the air and make them dance! Your kids will love parading their paper dragons through the house, watching them twirl and swirl through the air.

cny (4 of 5)cny (5 of 5)

2. Paper Lantern

*photo and idea courtesy of Kaboose

The preschool my children attend hang these beautiful paper lanterns from the ceiling each year to celebrate Chinese New Year. These are simple to make, and help to create a fun and festive atmosphere. Create a few and hang them above your dining room table before dining on some special Chinese food!


3. Fireworks!


*photo and idea coutesy of enchantedlearning.com


Fireworks are an important part of the Chinese New Year celebration! Create your own fireworks using glue, straws, and glitter! (What five year old doesn’t love glitter?!)


4. Chinese Dragon Paper Plate Puppet



 *photo and idea courtesy of DLTK-holidays.com

Recycle an egg carton and paper plate into this adorable dragon puppet!


6. Paper Chain Year of the Horse Wreath

snake wreath


*photo and idea courtesy of dltk-holidays.com

Create this beautiful red and gold wreath symbolizing happiness, luck, and good fortune. Print out the horse emblem to hang in the center for the year of the horse.




Printables are simple, quick, and a fun way to enhance your learning time. If you don’t  have time to craft or bake, why not print out an activity or two, and substitute tv watching or screen time with a Chinese New Year worksheet?


1. Chinese Numbers


chinese_number_poster_320*photo and activity courtesy of Activity Village

Your children will have fun as they try to write the Chinese symbols for the numbers 0-9.


2. Chinese New Year Writing/Drawing Frames


chinese_new_year_frame_portrait*photo and idea courtesy of Activity Village

Print out a festive framed paper featuring dragons or lanterns, and have your child write or draw about what they have learned about Chinese New Year.


3. Dragon Mask


chinesedragonmask*photo and idea courtesy of thebestkidsbooksite.com

Print out the dragon’s face, attach it to a popsicle stick, and voila! You’re a dragon! Practice your dragon dance throughout the house!


4. Chinese New Year Early Reader Book



*photo and idea courtesy of


Print out and enjoy a simple reader about Chinese New Year.



5. Chinese Zodiac Calendar Wreath


scalendarwreath*photo and idea courtesy of DLTK-holidays.com

Select color or black and white (and color your own!), and create a simple wreath showcasing the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Kids will enjoy discovering their animal.


6. Printable Envelope Pattern


Chinese children receive red envelopes filled with money for Chinese New Year. Print out this template from about.com, and trace it onto red paper. Give your child a small amount of money, and let them decide how to spend, share, save, etc. their money.