Celebrating Chinese New Year in a Primary Classroom

Chinese New Year Primary School

新年快乐 Xin Nian Kuai Le! Or Happy New Year! Welcome to the Year of The Pig!

This week, people (and classrooms) across the world are celebrating Chinese New Year. An occasion filled with tradition, dance, decoration and plenty of delicious food- what’s not to love! If you want to find out more about the festival head over to “Lessons from teaching in China: 6 observations about Chinese New Year”.

We are visiting schools across the country to celebrate Chinese New Year with a dance workshops based on “The Great Race”, the story behind the Chinese Zodiac. Not planned a dance workshop with us this year? Well fear not, there’s still plenty of ways you can get your class involved in celebrating!

If you’re not quite sure where to start when it comes to teaching this great cultural festival, then check out my handy hints below before downloading our teaching resource packed full of ideas for your classroom!

Top Tips for celebrating Chinese New Year in a Primary School Classroom:

  1. Build some background information.

    Before you crack open the craft cupboard (because there’s lots of decorations to be made for Chinese New Year), check you know why that craft or activity is traditional in China. We really like this collection of videos from BBC Bitesize for building background.

  2. Think about the bigger picture.

    Chinese New Year is celebrated in accordance with the Lunar Calendar, and there’s a lot of other countries that also celebrate The Lunar New Year. Asking your class to do some research and make a map of the countries which also celebrate The Lunar New Year is one way to get children thinking about this more independently.

  3. Explore some of the popular myths and stories in Chinese culture.

    “The Great Race” is a story steeped in myth and legend surrounding the conception of The Chinese Zodiac. Sharing these stories can be a great springboard for your unit on Chinese New Year. This list from The Book Trust is a great starting point.

  4. Make a timeline.

    The New Year is just one day of a 15 day Spring Festival and each period of time in the Spring Festival comes with it’s own special activities. For example, the 15th day of the festival is the Lantern Festival which celebrates the light which Spring brings - it also is a great opportunity to get crafty with making your own paper lanterns!

  5. Try your hand at some Mandarin or Cantonese phrases:

    新年快乐 Xin Nian Kuai Le - Happy New Year (Mandarin)
    恭喜发财 Gōngxǐ fācái - Happiness and Prosperity (Mandarin)
    恭喜發財 Kung Hei Fat Choi - Happiness and Prosperity (Cantonese)

Now that you’ve built your background information, got a good grasp of the big picture and have mastered the linguistics, why not check out our Teacher’s Resource for more ideas and activities for celebrating Chinese New Year!

We would love to see what you get up to in your classroom so tweet us @WestEndinSchool to show us how you are welcoming in The Year of The Pig.

-Katie