Lunar New Year is a time for celebration, family, and tradition for so many of our KCC families. For preschoolers that don’t celebrate, it serves as the perfect opportunity to learn about a new culture and its traditions. Let’s learn more about Lunar New Year activities for preschoolers.
As 2023 marks the year of the rabbit in the Chinese zodiac, it’s an especially exciting time to celebrate! The rabbit is a part of the 12-year cycle of the Chinese calendar, which has been used as a way of dating years for centuries. It’s also a symbol of a year that will be full of prosperity, good luck, and good fortune. Incorporating the symbolism of the rabbit into the various activities below can be a fun way to teach preschoolers about the Chinese zodiac.
Here are eight fun activities that you and your preschooler can do together to celebrate the Lunar New Year 2023 and the Year of the Rabbit!
1. Making Lanterns
To make lanterns with your little one, you’ll need red construction paper, glue, and glitter. Follow these step to step instructions. Once you finish creating the lanterns together, hang them up around your house to decorate for Lunar New Year.
Making lanterns isn’t only a fun art project and an excellent opportunity to practice fine motor skills, but a time to learn about cultural traditions. Red lanterns are used to celebrate occasions of joy and harmony, and to signify good fortune.
2. Dragon Dance
You’ll need streamers and a cardboard box to make a dragon puppet. Cut the streamers into various lengths, and tape them to the cardboard box to make the dragon’s body. Afterward, have your preschooler paint the box (the dragon) in colors that range from yellow to red.
Once the paint is dry, you can attach yarn to the top of the cardboard (dragon’s body) to make a handle. Your preschooler can have fun parading around the house or backyard with their dragon puppet.
In Chinese culture, the dragon represents good luck, strength, and health. This activity is the perfect way to learn about the importance of the dragon in Chinese culture together.
3. Dumpling Making
Dumplings are a popular, traditional food for the Lunar New Year. To make them, you’ll need dumpling wrappers (easily found at the grocery store!), and a filling of your choice (ground meat, vegetables, tofu, or a blend of each ingredient). Have your preschooler help with the filling and shaping of the dumplings. Then, you can cook them in a pot of boiling water, or pan-fry them.
This activity isn’t only a fun way for preschoolers to help in the kitchen (they’ll be so excited!), but it also doubles as a great fine motor skill activity, and a great way to introduce them to new flavors and textures experienced in the Lunar New Year.
4. Red Envelope Craft
During Lunar New Year, it’s tradition to gift bright, beautiful red envelopes filled with money to friends and family, symbolizing good wishes and luck for the new year ahead. You can explore this tradition and make your own red envelopes with your preschooler.
To make red envelopes, you’ll need red construction paper and glue. Cut the construction paper into the shape of an envelope, and have your preschooler decorate it with glue and glitter. You can follow step-by-step directions here.
Once the glue is dry, you can use the envelope to either give gifts or decorate your home. This activity helps preschoolers understand the tradition of giving red envelopes filled with money as gifts during the Lunar New Year.
5. Read, read, read!
One of the best ways to learn about the Lunar New Year and its traditions with your little ones is through reading. Learn in detail about the year of the rabbit, the Chinese Zodiac and the 12-year cycle of the Chinese calendar, Chinese stories, and folklore. Check out the following books!
Ruby’s Chinese New Year by Vicki Lee, Illustrated by Joey Chou
Tofu Takes Time by Helen H. Wu, Illustrated by Julie Jarema
A Sweet New Year for Ren by Michelle Sterling, Illustrated by Dung Ho
Year of the Cat by Richard Ho, Illustrated by Jocelyn Li Langrand
Long Goes to Dragon School by Helen H. Wu, Illustrated by Mae Besom
Be Curious and Have Fun.
Celebrating and respecting the diversity of our families is a cornerstone of Kids’ Care Club’s curriculum. When exploring new traditions and celebrations of different cultures, emphasize learning about the holidays rather than necessarily celebrating them if they aren’t in your family’s cultural practice. Learning about a holiday means teaching children about what the holiday means to different people and about the many different ways those families who honor the holiday celebrate it.
With a developmentally appropriate and culturally sensitive approach, we believe that acknowledging and celebrating the holidays of the diverse families in our program help celebrate one another and build connections between our families. By learning about the Lunar New year through new activities, your preschooler will get to spend time with the whole family, create lasting memories, and learn about new traditions.
Learn more about celebrating Lunar New Year with your preschooler on NAEYC’s blog, with an extra special Lunar New Year greeting card with videos demonstrating additional cultural traditions.