Good news, teachers! Chinese New Year is coming up very soon, which is a great opportunity for you to link this amazing cultural celebration to your classroom activities. This would be especially useful if you have international students in your class! Special activities for Chinese New Year in the classroom is a great opportunity to have international students and, especially those from Asian countries who celebrate the holiday, share their traditions and celebrations with their classmates. It is also a chance for other students to develop their sense of global awareness by learning all about the history and traditions of Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year Is a public holiday in China, but it is also celebrated in many countries around the globe. Not only is it a public holiday in countries like Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Korea, and Vietnam, but it is also celebrated in far-flung corners of the globe. Places like Australia, Canada, and the US, where there are large Chinese immigrant populations, celebrate it every year. Do you have any international students from any of these countries in your class who celebrate the Chinese New Year?
Here are some ideas for a Chinese New Year lesson plan which you can use in your classroom this semester!
- Discussion Activity: History of the Chinese New Year
Are your students familiar with the history of Chinese New Year? You might want to start by finding out what they know and don’t know. Start off the lesson with a few basic discussion questions like these:
- When is Chinese New Year?
- Where is it celebrated?
- What percentage of the world’s population do you think celebrates Chinese New Year?
- What happens on Chinese New Year and how long does it last?
- Does anyone in the class celebrate Chinese New Year with their family?
- Do you know anyone else who celebrates Chinese New Year?
- Do you know of any Chinese New Year celebrations in your area?
- What do you know about the Chinese calendar?
This will give you an idea of how much everyone knows about the holiday and clear up any misperceptions or misunderstandings students have. You could also use this discussion time to explore different calendars used around the world and their origins, such as the Gregorian calendar, the Muslim Calendar and the Buddhist calendar. More information on calendars can be found using this link
2. History Channel Short Video
- As a follow- up activity, show the class this three-minute video from the History Channel about the celebration, which will also help answer the above questions.
- After watching the video, ask your international students to share with the class New Year traditions in their home country. Of course, you will probably have students from distinct countries who celebrate their New Year differently; but sharing their traditions will help develop respect and tolerance for other cultures with your students..
- Invite your Asian students to go into more detail about Chinese New Year celebrations in their family, in their hometown, and what they remember from their childhood.
- History Channel Chinese New Year
3. The Tradition of Chinese New Year Dumplings
Show this slide show to the class about the tradition of Chinese New Year Dumplings. The slide show is a combination of image, video, and text.
Show the slideshow to the students again. Tell them that after they watch it a second time, they will have to retell the history and tradition to their partner.
If they are available in your area, you may want to bring some in for the students to try, or perhaps a student can volunteer to bring some in from a local Chinese supermarket or maybe even homemade!
4. Arts and crafts activities
The last day of Chinese New Year is the famous Lantern Festival, where traditionally bright red lanterns are displayed, both indoors and outdoors. Have students try making their own lantern by checking out this easy to make homemade Chinese New Year lantern. They can either be used to decorate the classroom or to take home and display in their house.
5. Book Review Activity
To honor the Chinese New Year, it would be a great learning experience to celebrate Asian literature. There are many amazing novels in English, by Asian Americans, that you may want to consider using in your classroom. You could either read the whole novel or pick out key extracts. Here is a group book review activity which you could use in the classroom to get started in your celebration of Asian literature!
- Each group chooses a novel from the list below.
- Students research to find an overview of each text and find a review, either on Goodreads or on Amazon.
- For homework, they can read the first chapter if available, to get a taste of the style, plot, themes, and characters of the novel.
- Each group can create a mini-presentation on the text to share some details of the plot, theme, and characters.
- Students can also share the reviews they have found plus their own personal recommendations.
- The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
- American Born Chinese by Gene Luan Yang
- Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
- The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan
Be sure to try one or more of these activities with your class during the Chinese New Year period this year!