Activity Inspiration

Embracing Chinese New Year in the Classroom

02 Jan 2024

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Chinese New Year! We’ve collated a few activities designed to captivate the imaginations of your students while exploring this vibrant cultural celebration. From crafting fortune cookie poems to enlivening the classroom with dragon dances, these activities promise to bring the spirit of Chinese New Year into your classroom.

Lantern Making:

  • Guide the pupils in creating their own Chinese lanterns. You can use templates or let them design their own patterns.
  • Ask pupils to write positive New Year messages or wishes on their lanterns, incorporating aspects of the Chinese New Year tradition.
  • Set up a designated area for a lantern exhibition within the school or classroom. Hang strings or wires from the ceiling to display the lanterns.

New Year’s Parade:

  • Split the children into 12 groups. Assign each group a character from the Great Race story.
  • Encourage students to consider the characteristics and movements associated with their assigned animal.
  • Provide materials for students to create simple costumes or props for their characters. This could include cardboard, paper, fabric, and colours associated with Chinese New Year.
  • Work with students to create a short choreography for their characters. Emphasise expressive movements, teamwork, and coordination. This could be as simple as one repeated movement per animal e.g. wriggle like a RAT, Claws like a TIGER, Arm wings like a DRAGON, Trot like a HORSE.
  • Get the groups to perform in front of their peers, under the lantern exhibition (as per the previous activity)
  • If possible, incorporate traditional Chinese New Year music or drums to enhance the parade atmosphere.

Zodiac Animal Dioramas with Descriptive Writing:

  • Provide each student with a small box to create a diorama.
  • Gather craft materials and information about the zodiac animals.
  • Assign each student a zodiac animal and provide resources for them to research. Focus on aspects such as the animal’s habitat, characteristics, and cultural symbolism.
  • Instruct students to use the craft materials to create a diorama representing the natural habitat or setting of their zodiac animal.
  • Ask students to write a descriptive paragraph explaining their diorama and detailing the characteristics and significance of their assigned zodiac animal.
  • Allow students to present their dioramas and read their descriptive paragraphs to the class. Display the completed dioramas in a designated area of the classroom.

New Year’s Resolution Writing:

  • Begin with a class discussion about the concept of New Year’s resolutions. Talk about setting positive goals and making personal improvements.
  • Have students brainstorm ideas for their New Year’s resolutions. These can be related to academics, behaviour, friendships, or personal development.
  • Ask each student to write a short paragraph outlining their New Year’s resolution. Encourage them to be specific and explain why their chosen resolution is important to them.
  • Allow students to illustrate their resolutions. This adds a creative element to the activity and helps reinforce the meaning behind their goals.
  • Create a display in the classroom where students can share their resolutions. This fosters a positive and supportive environment for goal-setting.
  • Alternatively you could choose a few characters from a story you’ve been studying and ask the children to decide what their New Years resolution might be!

Fortune Cookie Poems:

  • Begin by discussing the concept of fortune cookies and their association with positive messages or predictions. Talk about the typical format of fortune cookie messages – short, enigmatic, and often containing a piece of advice or a positive statement.
  • Brainstorm with the students about positive themes and messages they would like to include in their fortune cookie poems. Encourage creativity and a positive outlook.
  • Provide either paper templates shaped like fortune cookies
  • Instruct students to write a short poem on their fortune cookie template. Emphasize brevity, with just a few lines capturing the essence of a positive message or piece of advice.
  • Encourage students to use coloured markers, pens, or pencils to decorate their fortune cookie templates. They can add illustrations or decorative elements that complement the theme of their poems.
  • If time permits, students can exchange their fortune cookie poems with classmates. Discuss the variety of messages and the creative ways students expressed positivity in their poems.
  • Example Fortune Cookie Poem:

In a cookie so neat, a message you’ll meet,

Chase your dreams, they’re really sweet!

Even when things get a bit gloom,

Be a shining star, let joy zoom.


– Phoebe (Creative Development Officer)