The Chinese Lunar New Year is this coming Sunday, February 10th. This is a big holiday for many of my kids' friends, and though we aren't Chinese ourselves, we still like to get in on some of the fun.
Last year, we had a lot of fun reading books, doing crafts, and playing pretend for this holiday.
Crafts and Pretend Play
On cardstock paper, I printed out one copy of this template for a miniature Chinese takeout box for each of my children. I gave my children stamps and a stamp pad decorate their boxes (though you could have your kids decorate with markers, paints, stickers, or whatever you want). When they finished decorating their boxes, I cut them out and assembled them into three-dimensional take out boxes.
We filled our homemade fortune cookie boxes with these simple felt fortune cookies that I had made following an easy tutorial. Then, we added the completed take out box and cookies to our play kitchen for some fun pretend play.
For a related field trip if you are in the LA area, I strongly recommend the Autry Museum of the American West. It has a hands-on exhibit for children about Chinese Americans that includes an early 1900s Chinese American home, dress ups, masks, a play Chinese restaurant, and more. That museum is free to the public the second Tuesday of every month.
Also, the Pacific Asia Museum is free to all on the 4th Friday of each month and my kids loved that as well!
Books and Stories
I told my children the story of the Chinese Zodiac, and we all checked our birth dates to see which animal we were based on the year we each were born.
We also read some picture books about the Chinese New Year that we picked up from our local library. One of those was Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin. It was a great book for little ones. It has simple, short text and bright illustrations that show the Chinese New Year celebration through the eyes of a child. A few end pages give some fun informational facts about Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year Dates
Because the Chinese New Year is based on a lunar calendar, the corresponding date on our Western calendar changes from year to year. Here are the dates for the Chinese New Year in future years:
Chinese New Year 2013: February 10, 2013
Chinese New Year 2014: January 31, 2014
Chinese New Year 2015: February 19, 2015
Chinese New Year 2016: February 8, 2016
I hope you all have a lots of fun celebrating this year! Be sure to also check out my Chinese New Year Pinterest Board for more ideas I have collected.