This Preschool Chinese New Year theme is to help children learn about the spring festival celebrated in China.
It follows the Chinese Lunar Calendar and falls between mid-January to mid-February each year.
There are 12 Chinese Zodiac Animals that represent a 12 year cyclical time cycle in the lunar calendar.
Below are 25+ activities to help you celebrate it in your classroom!
This Preschool Chinese New Year Theme page is filled with preschool lesson plans, activities and ideas for all areas of your classroom.
You can either scroll down through this page to see all of the preschool lesson plans for this theme.
Or you can click the picture link below to go to specific preschool activity types you are looking for.
Shades of Red!
Materials Needed: Red and white paint, paint brushes, paper plates (to mix paint on); blank sheets of white paper
Place red and white paint on a paper plate (one paper plate per child) and provide them with a paintbrush.
They will have fun making their own shades of red and pink!
EXTENSTION: Instead of you placing the paint on their paper plates, provide them with cups of white and red paint and a plastic teaspoon and let them measure their own paint ont the paper plate!
Materials Needed: Variety of paint colors, white school glue and rice
Mix 1/4 part glue with 1 part paint and mix.
The children should paint with this mixture and then sprinkle with rice. This dries into a very glossy finish!
Materials Needed: paint, paper, animal cookie cutters
Show the children how to place the cookie cutter into the paint and then stamp on the paper. You can use all the animals from the Chinese Zodiac (see the bottom of this page for a list) or just the animal that represents this year!
Encourage the children to write their own names on their art work.
Materials Needed: Black construction paper and a variety of other paint.
Fold paper in half. Encourage the children to only paint on one half of the paper.
Fold paper together and press.
Open and presto---great fireworks!
Paper Bag Puppets
Materials Needed: cut outs of the heads of the animals you want to use (the animal of the year or all of them!); markers; wiggly eyes; brown or white lunch bags
The children use the markers to draw a face on their animal and apply wiggle eyes.
Glue the head onto the bottom part of the paper bag.
Show children how to place their hand into the bag to use it as a puppet.
Build A House
Red is considered a lucky color. During Chinese New Year, window sills and doors are sometimes decorated in red to usher in good luck! Wrap some blocks in red paper. Encourage the children to build houses using the red blocks for windows and dorrs.
It was built way to protect China from enemies. It has been rebuilt in sections many times. If danger was approaching, a guard would light a lantern and the other guards would light their lanterns all the way down the Wall! This would notify the Emperor and the people to prepare for attack.
Did you know that the Great Wall of China is so big, that it can actually be seen from satelites in outer space?!!
Show children pictures of the Great Wall of China. Encourage them to build a wall as tall and as long as they can!
Circle Time is such a great time for children to learn the social skills of being together as a large group AND to learn more about your Valentines Day Theme!
Preschool Chinese New Year Animal Sounds
Materials Needed: Pictures of each of the 12 animals.
Show each card and encourage the children to make the sound. Or, place the pictures in the circle and make the sound. Ask the children to guess which animal sound you are making!
Materials Needed: Leisee envelopes (1 for each child) and play coins; the book Sam and the Lucky Money
Leisee are small red envelopes. You can find them at Chinese food stores or you can use plain red envelopes.You can also find theme.
On Chinese New Years, children are given a Leisee with a coin in it for luck.
5 Green Dragons (fingerplay)
Five green dragons making such a roar.
One danced away and then there were four.
Four green dragons dancing around a tree.
One danced away and then there were three.
Three green dragons dancing around you!
One danced away and then there were two.
Two green dragons dancing under the sun.
One danced away and then there was one.
One green dragon having lots of fun.
It danced away and now there are none!
Cooking with children helps develop their math skills and helps them to learn how to follow directions.
It also allows for some great conversation!
Ask many questions while cooking with your children to encourage conversation!
Be sure to ask specific theme questions while making these fun snacks!
The disclaimer: PLEASE, PLEASE check files for allergies..we've had a child allergic to strawberries, another to hazel nuts (all tree nuts, actually) and yet another to egg products. It is important for you to know before doing any cooking with the children.
Egg Drop Soup
Ingredients and Items needed: Chicken or vegetable broth, 2 eggs.
Cook broth until hot.
Open eggs into a bowl and beat.
Stir beaten eggs into the broth very quickly.
Serve when cooled a bit.
Ingredients and Items Needed: Chinese Dumplings (purchased or provided by a parent!). on the night before Chinese New Year, families typically prepare and cook dumplings. There is a tradition that a coin is inserted into one dumpling and the one who has the coin is supposed to have good luck in the coming year.
I do NOT suggest placing a coin in their food! What you could do is tape a play coin under each child's chair and when they are done with their dumpling snacks, have them look under their chairs to see if they have a lucky coin!
Tangerines and Oranges
Tangerines and oranges are passed out to children and guests during this celebartion. They symbolize wealth and good luck.
Provide oranges and tangerines for snack.
EXTENSION: Before snack time, let the children feel, smell and discuss the similarities and differences between an orange and a tangerine.
After peeling them, encourage the children to try some of each. Make a chart that has 3 columns. The first column will be each child's name. The second column will be for ORANGES and the third for TANGERINES. After trying each, note on the chart if each child liked each type! Count how many did or did not like each.
Tray of Togetherness
This tradition is a way of providing a sweet beginning to the Chinese New year. Customarily, foods like lotus seeds and lychee nuts and the like are used. However, due to allergies and children's resistance to try foods they have not tried before, provide healthy snack foods that they know!
This tray is usually a large round or octagonal shaped tray with 8 compartments. Choose 8 healthy foods for the children to try.
Bananas, kiwi, oranges, apple slices, grapes, strawberries, cucumber, carrots
EXTENSION: Rather than having this prepared for them, try having them help you slice and prepare it!
Set Up House
Cleaning and preparing the house before the Chinese New Year is a tradition! It is meant to sweep and clean out all of the bad luck!
Set up your dramatic play area as a housekeeping center. Be sure to provide baby wipes for cleaning and child sized brooms, dust pans, pretend vacuum cleaners, etc.
--More Than Just Painting (Although that is always THE favorite in our classroom!)
Materials Needed: Paper, red and yellow paint.
The Chinese flag is red with yellow stars. Provide these paints and a picture of the flag for the children to see. They may get more excited about making orange with the two colors....hang their flags!
VARIATION: Provide different shades of red with a bit of glue mixed in. Then provide precut yellow stars for the children to recreate the flag.
to Help Your Children Build Their Muscles While They Have Fun Together!
Materials Needed: Have pictures of each of the animals from the Chinese Zodiac (see end of this page). Show the children the pictures one at a time and have them move like that animal!
Book Suggestions for the Library
to Help Your Preschoolers Develop Their Math Skills and Those Small Muscles in Their Hands!
Chinese Animal Sort
Use the animals you have for the children to sort.
Materials Needed: yarn; cheerios
Have the children string 10 (or more, depending upon the level of your children) onto a piece of yarn. Show them how to count with it: Two cheerios (move 2 to the left) and 2 more Cheerios (move 2 more to the left) are how many? Children then count the Cheerios on the left!
EXTENSION: Wear them as necklaces at snack time!
Preschool Chinese New Year Paper Cutting Art
Materials needed: paper, scissors
Paper cutting is an ancient Chinese art. Have the children cut paper in any way they like! If they "name" their art work, put it on display with their name and the name of their creation!
Pom Pom Sorting
Obtain unused Chinese Food cartons and chopsticks from a Chinese food restaurant. You might also find them at local party stores. I purchase these items through Amazon here:
Provide chopsticks, pom poms and the empty cartons for the children to sort the pom poms with the chop sticks!
Chinese New Year Theme Music and Movement Activities and Ideas to get your Preschoolers Movin' and Groovin'!
Preschool Chinese New Year Parade!
Provide musical instruments and have a parade! Let each child have a turn leading the parade!
Provide crepe paper streamers or dancing scarves and music to create some interpretive dance! Encourage children to move to the beat of the music (slow, fast, etc.)
Show the children pictures of a Chinese Dragon used in the New Year celebration. Pretend to be a dragon train! The child in the front leads the other children. They copy whatever the person in the front is doing. That child then goes to the back and they all follow the new leader's actions!
See the Animal Dance and Prance (sung to Mary Had a Little Lamb)
Fill in the blank with the name of the animal you want to focus on!
See the _____ dance and prance, dance and prance, dance and prance.
See the _____ danbce and prance on Chinese New Year Day!
Hear the firecrackers pop pop pop, pop pop pop, pop pop pop.
Hear the firecrackers pop pop pop on Chinese New Year Day!
See the children laugh and clap, laugh and clap, laugh and clap.
See the children laugh and clap on Chinese New Year Day.
What a Treasure!
Add play coins to your sand table for a great and exciting treasure hunt!
Lucky Shiny Coins
Materials Needed: pennies, clear cups, venegar, salt, plstic spoons
Mix 1/4 cup of vinegar into a cup with 1 teaspoon of salt and mix.
Put a few pennies in the jar.
Watch what happens! The salt and vinegar, when combined, make an acid that cleans the dirt right off the pennies.
Use the plastic spoon to scoop out the pennies.
****Caution: Because young children touch their eyes often, do not leave this unsupervised as vinegar STINGS and the salt can scratch their eyes. I usually do this as a small group activity (1 teacher 2 children) and have lots of water available. Another thing you could do is to provide plastic safety glasses if you want the children to be able to do this hands on! Highly recomended!
Materials needed: animal stickers and/or animal stencils
The children create their own animal adventure.
EXTENSION: Write down any stories they tell you about their picture-word for word!- and attach to the back of their picture when they are done!
This may be difficult for the children to do based on their fine motor ability, but boy oh boy is it fun to try! Provide a print out of some symbols for Chinese words. Explain to the children what each means or draw a picture of what each one means as well as the word. Let them have fun trying to create them or create symbols of their own.
You can search online for some symbols for basic words such as water, sun, etc.
Chinese Zodiac Animals
List of the 12 Zodiac Animals:
Year of the Rat 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008
Year of the Ox 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009
Year of the Tiger 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010
Year of the Rabbit 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011
Year of the Dragon 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012
Year of the Snake 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013
Year of the Horse 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014
Year of the Sheep/Ram 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015
Year of the Monkey 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016
Year of the Rooster 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017
Year of the Dog 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018
Year of the Boar/Pig 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019