How to Incorporate the Chinese New Year Into Your Childcare Program

Education & Development Blog

The Chinese New Year is a very family-oriented event in the Chinese calendar and celebrated around the world in Chinese communities. It's a great event to incorporate into your childcare programs, especially if you live in an area with a significant Chinese population. Here are some ideas for children of all age groups to teach them about this celebration.

Babies—Finger painting

For babies, finger painting with red and gold paints incorporates the traditional colours and provides some sensory stimulation. Red symbolizes good luck and joy in Chinese culture and gold represents money, and the wish for financial success in the New Year.

Toddlers—Dancing & storybooks

For toddlers you can play some Chinese music and get them to match the beat with drums or other instruments or dace to the music. It can be a chance to show the children some of the instruments used in Chinese music including bells and pipa.

You can also find storybooks that discuss the Chinese New Year, and the zodiac animals represent by this year. The children can follow the animal themes within their artwork and play scenarios.

Pre-schoolers—Crafts & language elements

For slightly older children they can construct and decorate the traditional hongbao (red envelopes) and fill them with paper money and good wishes for their friends and family. They can give these out to their family and you can discuss the tradition of the envelope exchange with the children.

You can also practise the traditional Chinese New Year greeting of Guònián hǎo (Happy New Year) and Gōngxǐ fācái (Happiness and wealth). The children can copy the characters and recognise the shapes and patterns. You can also help them try to say the greetings.

For all ages groups


Oranges are a traditional snack for the New Year as they represent good fortune. Dumplings are also a traditional dish and the children can help build their own dumplings with selections of cold meat, vegetables and noodles, which are folded into a dumpling case. The carers can then steam the dumplings to serve to the kids. 

Excursions to a dragon dance

The local Chinese community will often organise a dragon boat race or a dragon dance demonstration through the streets. While the main performance is often at night, sometimes you can see an educational based performance during the day or even organise the dancers to visit your centre.

For more tips and suggestions, contact resources such as Cool Bananas Childcare & Preschool.


25 February 2015

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