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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 Begins January 28 (Possible Interactive Notebook Activity!)

Download the free resource at this link.

Chinese New Year Factoids

Kung Hei Fat Choy!
That’s Happy New Year in Chinese. 2017 is the Year of the Rooster. The rooster is a symbol of confidence. Those born under this Chinese zodiac sign are said to be hardworking, courageous, talented and resourceful. "Rooster" people are friendly and like to talk. They are loyal friends and like to be active in sports. On the Chinese calendar, called Yan Tan, the new year is 4715. 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 2017 Chinese New Year starts on January 28th. It is the beginning of a 15-day celebration!

Some of the following are Chinese good luck foods and customs:

  1. Long, uncut noodles are symbols of long life and friendship.
  2. Giving oranges and tangerines are symbols of wealth and good luck.
  3. Dumplings are eaten as a symbol of a happy family.
  4. Wearing red is thought to bring good luck.
  5. People put up lights and decorate windows and doors with red and gold paper. Messages of good fortunes are written.
  6. The Chinese word for fish is similar in sound to the word for plentiful, so fish are important in the Chinese New Year.
  7. Using knives or scissors on New Year's Day are considered bad luck as they may cut your good luck for the new year.
  8. It is also considered bad luck to wash your hair on New Year's Day.
  9. It is considered good luck to hear a bird sing on New Year's Day.
  10. The number 4 sounds like the Chinese word for death, so people try not to use the number on New Year's Day.
  11. Fireworks are shot off on New Year's Eve to send away the old year and welcome the new.
  12. 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.
  13. It is considered bad luck to own money from the previous year, so people try to pay any bills before the New Year.
  14. It is bad luck to clean on New Year's Day. You might sweep away any good luck!
  15. 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.
  16. 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.

 The year just ending was the year of the rat. Other animals that have a year in their honor include: pig, monkey, snake, dragon, goat, rabbit, dog, tiger, rooster, and horse.

Extension Activities

  1. 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.
  2. Check which animal you were born. Draw a picture of your sign and write 3 character traits you feel you have. Give an example to back up your traits.
  3. Illustrate/color one of the customs of Chinese New Year.
  4. Have the students read a Chinese folk story (Story of the Foolish Old Man Who Moved Mountains, The Three Monks, or Tikki Tikki Tembo. Write a summary of the story.
  5. Check out my purple bear’s photographs of our trip to China. Write a postcard pretending to be visiting the country of China. Include 3 facts learned about China from Purple Annie’s Travel page.
  6. 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 3 good things to happen. What would you choose and why?

Chinese New Year is a great time to do a short unit of study on the country of China! You may find these resources of interest:

  1. Country in Focus: China: A Webquest/Extension Activities
  2. 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 of my notes, activities and resources I used with my students.

Check out my website for teachers and kids.

Note: Illustration from