We love learning about holidays around the world, as well as the customs and history behind them. This guide on how to celebrate Lunar New Year festival with kids has books, videos, crafts, recipes, science activities, and more to help you learn about and experience this wonderful holiday right from home.
This guide will also include ideas for how to avoid cultural appropriation when celebrating Lunar New Year, and suggest ways to support and compensate those native to the cultures that celebrate.
I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating Lunar New Year with kids!
This guide to celebrating Lunar New Year with kids contains affiliate links, but all opinions are 100% my own. That means I earn a small commission if you purchase through my link, but doesn’t change your price.
How to Celebrate Lunar New Year Festival with Kids: Family Learning Guide
LUNAR NEW YEAR BOOKS FOR KIDS + LANGUAGE ARTS
Featured Lunar New Year Picture Book
The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang (Author), Alina Chau (Illustrator)
The Nian Monster Picture Book Discussion Questions
- Who is Nian?
- What were some of the traditional foods for the Lunar New Year festival? Have you tasted any of these foods before?
- If you were to choose a food to signify a sweet life, what would you choose?
- Are there activities you do to celebrate special holidays with your family?
Other Lunar New Year Books for Kids
Other Books About China for Kids
Find other amazing children’s books about China here!
Lunar New Year Activity Books for Kids
Lunar New Year Writing Assignment: Chinese Zodiac Character Activity
Find your Chinese zodiac (you can use this site or here’s a great Chinese picture book for kids that shows the animals for the different years). After you’ve determined the animal of your birth year, learn about what characteristics that animal represents in the Chinese zodiac.
Preschool children may then draw the animal. Elementary aged children may write 5 examples of ways they do or do not embody the the animal’s characteristics in their lives.
Chinese Art Books
LUNAR NEW YEAR HISTORY
Lunar New Year Facts & History
- In China, the official holiday is 7 days but the celebration lasts about 15 days. Tet in Vietnam and Seollal in Korea officially lasts about 3 days.
- Fireworks and family parties are common across celebrations in the different countries.
- The Lantern Festival marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations.
- Lucky money is gifted in many countries. This is when older adults such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. gift money, usually to young children, in red envelopes. Red is thought to be a lucky color, so the money wrapped in the red paper becomes lucky.
- The first day of celebration generally has a big feast with family called a reunion meal.
- Here is more information specific to Chinese New Year history and folklore.
15 Days of Chinese New Year Activity
Here’s a wonderful guide to the 15 days of Chinese New Year. Learn about each day, then discuss which is your favorite!
ARTS & CRAFTS PROJECTS FOR LUNAR NEW YEAR
Featured Lunar New Year Art Project: Paper Lanterns
This is a very simple art project that you can do in just a few minutes. Here are the instructions for the project. Here is what you will need:
- Red paper
- Gold paper or just gold washi tape to decorate the outside
- Glue or tape
- Pencil and ruler
Lunar New Year Paper Firecrackers Craft
Here’s a wonderful paper firecrackers craft that uses red paper, gold paint and gold tape, twine, and other basics.
Other Lunar New Year Activities for Kids
There are a number of wonderful ways to celebrate Lunar New Year with kids:
- Here are 20+ Chinese New Year activities
- Or 8+ Korean Lunar New Year activities
- 9 activities for Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year)
- Handprint Chinese Dragon Puppet out of colored paper, colored pencils, glue, and glitter
- Make a Chinese New Year fan
- Lunar New Year drum craft
COOKING & SCIENCE
Featured Lunar New Year Food: Nian Gao
There are a number of foods that are considered lucky to eat for Lunar New Year. In China, whole steamed fish is common, while chicken or duck may be more common in Thailand. Oranges and glutinous rice cakes are very popular for good luck in many countries that celebrate Lunar New Year.
Here’s a list of 7 lucky foods for Chinese New Year!
Authentic Nian Gao Recipe
Nian gao, or sticky rice cakes, are one of the most traditional foods of Lunar New year and symbolize prosperity. You can steam or bake it, and eat it plain or with a number of fillings (black sesame paste is very popular).
Here’s a recipe to make your own nian gao!
Featured Lunar New Year Science Activity for Kids: Origins of Silk
Silkmaking is revered in China. It’s a beautiful and prized fabric that lots of people around the world admired. You will learn the process of silkmaking today!
- Start by watching this video of the legend The Empress and the Silkworm by Lily Toy Hong.
- Print and cut out these silkworm sequencing cards to learn about the process of making silk
- Glue the cards onto a piece of paper in the correct order
AVOIDING CULTURAL APPROPRIATION WITH LUNAR NEW YEAR
An important part of avoiding cultural appropriation is to financially support the cultures from which we learn and borrow. It’s important compensate those from those cultures so that the culture can continue to thrive.
Here are some ways you can support those of Chinese and other Asian ancestry:
Buy from a Local Asian Grocer
Instead of searching a big supermarket or even making items yourself, consider supporting a local Asian grocer. You may want to purchase fish to steam and glutinous rice, or you might pick up pre-prepared items.
Buy Authentic Lunar New Year Decorations and Items
You should absolutely purchase Lunar New Year decorations from someone of Asian heritage. Profiting off another culture is one of the most egregious forms of appropriation. We should avoid purchasing traditional items with deep significance, like these things, from big corporations or those appropriating Chinese and other Asian cultures and religious heritages.
The best way to purchase Lunar New Year decorations is from someone native to the culture. Head to your local Chinatown to support small businesses there if possible. If not, you can purchase red envelopes online.
Here is more information on decorating your home if you would like to celebrate Chinese New Year!
Learn about the different countries that celebrate Lunar New Year
While there are wonderful Chinese New Year resources and celebrations, many countries throughout Asia and the world celebrate Lunar New Year. Learn about some of the different ways countries and peoples celebrate and reduce generalizations and stereotypes.
You can also learn the different names for the celebration in different countries.
Some different names for the festival are Chinese Chunjie, Vietnamese Tet, Korean Solnal, and Tibetan Losar. Chinese-Filipinos celebrate in the Philippines, as do Chinese-Thai in Thailand.
Study Asian history and culture
Lunar New Year is a perfect time to learn more about different Asian countries, such as China with Kids, Korea with kids, or the Philippines with kids. It’s a wonderful opportunity to study diverse and beautiful countries and their people, and also participate in some traditional activities. You may also consider learning about the history of the Asian diaspora.
Purchase an authentic cookbook
It’s easy to Google recipes, but it’s also wonderful to support Asian (or Asian-American) cookbook authors. This book by Bee Yinn Low has wonderful and simple recipes that are great for families. I’m also itching to try this cookbook with fast Vietnamese recipes at home.
Sign up for an online cooking class
LUNAR NEW YEAR DANCE
The lion symbolizes power, and the Lion Dance during Chinese New Year activities brings good luck and prosperity. The Dragon Lantern Dance is traditional to the Han people and is performed to scare away evil spirits.
KID MOVIES AND VIDEOS ABOUT LUNAR NEW YEAR
LUNAR NEW YEAR DISCUSSION QUESTIONS WITH KIDS
- Why do families give red envelopes during Lunar New Year?
- What does the dragon symbolize?
- What are some foods eaten to celebrate Lunar New Year? Do you have any special foods to celebrate holidays with your family?
- Do you feel your Chinese zodiac animal is representative of you?
Thanks for learning about Lunar New Year with kids with us!
We’ve loved putting together this resource with Lunar New Year activities for kids. We’d love to hear if you do any of these activities!
We hope to inspire curiosity and connection through exploring and learning, and we hope this guide helps you and your families. Please share any activities you do with us over on our Instagram. And we’d be delighted if you passed this Lunar New Year with kids resource along to others, as well!
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