Find out about Chinese New Year and join in the 2022 celebrations with these super-easy, super-fun children’s activities, recipes and games.
What is Chinese New Year all about?
There are a few legends surrounding the origins of the Chinese New Year.
According to one such legend thousands of years ago a monster called Nian always attacked villagers at the beginning of every new year. The monster was afraid of the colour red as well as bright lights and noises, so the people used this to scare it away. That is why Chinese celebrations are full of red, gold, vibrant decorations, lights, and a cacophony of sound.
You could help your child to learn about Chinese New Year with the following books and films.
Children’s information books and stories
These books introduce children to Chinese New Year and are a little bit of fun too!
Celebrate Chinese New Year by National Geographic is full of engaging photographs of people celebrating Chinese New Year. The photos might spark discussion and raise lots of questions.
Chinese New Year: We Love Festivals by Saviour Pirotta. With full colour photos and accessible text, this is a great introduction to the ways people celebrate Chinese New Year.
Mr Men: Chinese New Year by Adam Hargreaves and Roger Hargreaves. The Mr Men are having a party with a dragon dance to celebrate Chinese New Year. What could possibly go wrong?
The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine is a delightful picture book for young children about a wok that escapes from a rich man’s home. It’s a book about generosity which is the true spirit of the Chinese New Year.
Films to bring Chinese New Year 2022 alive
For a young child, you could share CBeebie’s Preparing for Chinese New Year – Let’s Celebrate. This short film shows how families prepare for and celebrate New Year.
An older child might enjoy, How is Chinese New Year Celebrated? It is the story of Nian the monster and the origins of the Chinese New Year.
Finally, you could really bring Chinese New Year to life by watching festivities in China.
Children’s craft activities for Chinese New Year
These easy arts and crafts are suitable for children of all ages.
The year 2022 is the Chinese year of the tiger. Your child might like to make this fantastic moving tiger. All you need is cardboard, paint, scissors and split pins.
Your child doesn’t have to paint a panda – they can paint anything. How about a tiger to celebrate 2022 or a dragon instead? You could find pictures online or in books for ideas.
Spicy, red playdough
Make some spicy red playdough by mixing 2 cups of flour, ½ cup of salt, 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar, 2 tablespoons of oil, a few drops of red food colouring and some Chinese spices (such as cinnamon and cloves) in a saucepan over a medium heat. Continue to stir the mixture until it forms a ball.
Once the playdough is cool your child could decorate it with red and gold craft materials such as bottle tops, craft pipe cleaners, gold stars and chocolate coin wrappers – anything you can find at home.
Older children could sculpt dragons from the playdough and craft bits. Imagination is the limit!
Traditional Chinese cooking
Sticky rice is traditionally thought to be good luck at Chinese New Year. The stickiness of the rice is also a symbol of family togetherness.
Why not have a go at cooking this sweet, coconut-based dessert? It’ delicious and the perfect way to celebrate Chinese New Year.
You will need:
1 x 400ml can coconut milk
2 cups of jasmine rice
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
- Wash the rice in a sieve and keep rinsing it until the water runs clear.
- Put the rice and all the other ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
- When the mixture is boiling turn the heat down.
- Cover the saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Taste the rice to see if it is cooked. If cooked, serve immediately.
The great family chopstick race
We love the chopstick race. It’s a great game for the whole family, plus good practise with using chopsticks.
To play, give each person a pair of chopsticks, an empty bowl and a bowl filled with an equal number of sweets (like mini marshmallows). You will also need a one-minute timer – an oven timer will do.
The players have one minute to transfer as many sweets into their empty bowl as they can using their chopsticks. Whoever transfers the most sweets is the winner!
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