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Gail Skroback Hennessey taught for over 33 years, teaching sixth grade in all but two years. She earned a BA in early secondary education with a concentration in social studies and an MST in social...
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Chinese New Year 2024, Great Time to Introduce Kids to the Country of China

Chinese New Year Factoids
Gail Skroback Hennessey

“Kung Hei Fat Choy” means Happy New Year in Chinese! 2024 is the Year of the Dragon. The Dragon is considered to be most powerful of all the

12 zodiac creatures.Those born under this Chinese zodiac sign are said to have much good fortune. Dragon people are hard workers, a bit self-demanding, intelligent and ambitious. Dragon people like to travel and are very curious. On the Chinese calendar, called Yan Tan, the new year is 4721. Chinese New Year is not always held on the same day each year. It depends on when the second new moon of the winter solstice occurs. In 2024, Chinese New Year starts on February 10th. It is the beginning of a 15 day celebration!

Some of the following are Chinese good luck foods and customs:
  • Long, uncut noodles are a symbols of long life and friendship.
  • Giving oranges and tangerines are symbols of wealth and good luck.
  • Dumplings are eaten as a symbol of a happy family.
  • Wearing red is thought to bring good luck.
  • People put up lights and decorate windows and doors with red and gold paper. Messages of good fortunes are written.
  • The Chinese word for fish is similar in sound to the word for plentiful, so fish are important in the Chinese New Year.
  • Using knives or scissors on New Year's Day are considered bad luck as they may cut your good luck for the new year.
  • It is also considered bad luck to wash your hair on New Year's Day.
  • It is considered good luck to hear a bird sign on New Year's Day.
  • The number 4 sounds like the Chinese word for death, so people try not to use the number on New Year's Day
  • Fireworks are shot off on New Year's Eve to send away the old year and welcome the new.
  • Before the new year, it is a custom to clean the home from top to bottom to sweep away any bad luck from the previous year.
  • It is considered bad luck to own money from the previous year, so people try to pay any bills before the New Year.
  • It is bad luck to clean on New Year's Day. You might sweep away any good luck!
  • At exactly midnight on New Year's Eve, all windows and doors are opened to send away the old year and welcome in the new.
  • If a flower opens on New Year's Day, it is considered good luck.
The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac
Several stories are told about how twelve animals came to be honored with a year in the Chinese calendar.  One is that Buddha was having a party and invited all the animals of the world to come. It was very cold and only twelve animals braved the weather to attend the party. Buddha was so grateful to those that attended his party, that each that came got a year named in their honor. The rat was the first to get to the party, with the ox being second. If you look at the 12 year calendar, which animal arrived last? Man didn't brave the weather to come to the party and is the reason that a year isn't given to man on the calendar.
There are twelve animals in the Chinese calendar and everyone has a year in their honor. The year just ending was the year of the rat. Other animals  include: pig, monkey, snake, dragon, goat, rabbit, dog, tiger, rooster,and horse.
*Purple Annie at the Great Wall of China
•Write 3 things you learned that you found very interesting about Chinese New Year.
•Write a paragraph describing Chinese New Year. Include 4 facts learned from the information listed.
Teacher Page:
Extension Activities:
  • Give students a handout of the information on Chinese New Year.  Have small groups use the information to make 5 comprehension questions to exchange with another group to answer. Regroup as a class and discuss the information presented.
  • Check which animal you were born.  Draw a picture of your sign and write three character traits you feel you have. Give an example to back up your traits. 
      • Illustrate/color one of the customs of Chinese New Year.
 • Chinese animated folk story: The Three Monks. Write a summary of the story: 
  • Check out my Purple Annie bear’s photographs of our trip to China:   Write a  post card pretending to be visiting the country of China. Include 3 facts learned about China from Purple Annie’s Travel page.
  • Dragons and bats are considered good luck. Draw/color a picture of either a dragon or bat. Pretend your dragon or bat could grant you three good things to happen. What would you choose and why?
You may find these resource of interest. Take a look:
  1. Let’s Explore China!  Did you know that enough dirt was used to create the Great Wall of China to circle the earth with an 8 ft. high wall? Did you know that ice cream was probably first invented by the Chinese(frozen milk/rice)? Did you know that the yo-yo was invented by the Chinese or that the number 9 and the color red are considered good luck in China? I taught a unit on China for 32 years and would love to share some my notes, activities and resources I used with my students. 
  2. Country in Focus: China. A Webquest/ Extension Activities: 
  3. Reading on the Great Wall of China
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Note: Illustrations from