Chinese New Year – also known as Lunar New Year – is an annual Chinese festival celebrating the New Year based on the traditional Chinese calendar.
The Chinese calendar is lunisolar; it identifies years, months, and days according to precise astronomical observations of the sun’s longitude and the moon’s phases. Although modern China uses the Gregorian calendar, traditional Chinese festivities, like the Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival are governed by the traditional Chinese calendar. Since the calendar depends on these astronomical phenomena, the date of the Chinese New Year is different each year and therefore, a movable feast.
Chinese zodiac signs are based on this calendar. Different zodiac animals represent different years. For example, 2021 was the Year of the Ox, while 2022 is the Year of the Tiger. Each animal is associated with personality traits.
The Chinese zodiac sign also determines the life events of people born in that year. People born in the Year of the Ox are self-assured, patient and thoughtful, while those born in the Year of the Tiger are rebellious, commanding and unpredictable.
Which countries celebrate the Chinese New Year?
More than two billion people celebrate the Chinese New Year each year. It’s a national holiday in China, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, North Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia.
Red is considered a lucky colour in China, so red decorations are common in these countries and Chinatowns around the world. Unquestionably, they’re an important part of the celebration. Red envelopes with monetary gifts are also sent to family and friends to mark the occasion.
When is Chinese New Year 2022?
The Chinese New Year is upon us; festivities to mark the occasion will take place in early February – from the first day of February to the 15th. Chinese New Year festivities usually last up to 15 days. This period is known as the Spring Festival and is the perfect opportunity to immerse young learners in Chinese culture.
Why do we celebrate Chinese New Year in early years?
Celebrating Chinese New Year in your class or early years setting is the perfect way to introduce children to different cultures, languages and traditions. By celebrating a festivity that children may not celebrate with their families, practitioners can explore hundreds of activities that broaden children’s horizons.
With rich traditions such as lion dances, dragon dances and fireworks, there’s plenty to draw on for EYFS practitioners. Here are a few activity ideas that may be helpful.
Each EYFS Chinese New Year activity is explained in a one-minute video and includes ways to implement it in the classroom or setting. These activities serve as a great introduction to Chinese culture and will prompt your students to say “Xin Nian Kuai Le” (Happy Chinese New Year in Mandarin)” and “Gung hay fat choy” (wishing you great happiness and prosperity in Cantonese) in no time!
EYFS Chinese New Year: Activities for communication and language development
These simple activities engage children and give them the opportunity to hear modelled adult language and orally rehearse their spoken language.
The Story of the Great Race
There are lots of wonderful activities that the Chinese New Year can bring to the early years setting. One is the story of the Great Race – where an Emperor of China set all the animals together in a race and named the years after the order in which they finished.
You can add pictures and tell the story using a Chatta board. This is perfect for sequencing, order, naming and learning new vocabulary.
Chinese Calendar Zodiac Signs
One of the many brilliant things about the Chinese calendar is that each year is dedicated to a particular animal. This is perfect for naming, labelling and describing the animals.
For example, if 2022 is the Year of the Tiger, teachers can encourage students to describe the animal’s colour, diet, appearance, etc. Put it all together in a Chatta board to help with naming, vocabulary and spoken language.
The Chinese New Year offers children the perfect opportunity to taste different foods and flavours. Noodles are perfect because there are step-by-step instructions on making them and how to eat them with chopsticks.
Using chopsticks is a great activity to develop children’s motor skills and language. Use the chopsticks to pick up differently-sized objects around the classroom. You can then describe what you did using photographs and Chatta.
Chinese New Year Traditions
The Chinese New Year offers children a fabulous opportunity to learn about traditional activities enjoyed by families in China and Chinese families around the world. These can be explained and described using a Chatta board, offering an excellent opportunity to explore familiar and different activities. It is also a great way to model language and expand vocabulary.
Learning a new language (Mandarin and Cantonese)
Because there are two voice recording buttons on every Chatta picture, it’s perfect for teaching a new language to early years children. Whether Mandarin or Cantonese, you can record English on one button and Mandarin / Cantonese on the other. This feature makes it easy to introduce simple phrases such as Ni Hao/Hello (Mandarin) or Mm goy (Thank You/Cantonese) to children.
We hope you enjoy these Chinese New Year activities. If you know of any activities we’ve not listed here, tweet us @hellochatta or share your Chinese New Year activity in the Chatta community.
You can download the Chatta software and trial it for free by visiting https://app.chattalearning.com/.