Chinese New Year Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson plan to teach students about the origins of Chinese New Year. Show students how to use a Chinese calendar, then get them involved in a fun activity with adjectives and Chinese signs and symbols.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain the origins of Chinese New Year
  • determine the date of the Chinese New Year
  • discuss Chinese traditions


1 hour


Key Vocabulary

  • Lunar calendar
  • Solar solstice
  • Zodiac
  • Communism

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.7.2.a

Use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives (e.g., 'It was a fascinating, enjoyable movie' but not 'He wore an old(,) green shirt').


  • Tell students they will be learning about Chinese New Year, beginning with a history of the holiday and then learning about the symbols.
  • With students, read Chinese New Year History.
  • Read through the 'Chinese Calendar' section, then stop. With your students, determine the date of the Chinese New Year. Mark it on the calendar.
  • Read the remainder of the lesson. Discuss:
    • Do we have any traditions based on legend, like the monster Nian?
    • What does the color red symbolize for you? How does that differ from what red represents in Chinese culture?
    • Why did the Chinese New Year change in 1912? Why the resurgence in the 1980s?
  • Have students create a Venn diagram or T-chart to compare and contrast Chinese New Year and American New Year traditions.


  • Begin the activity by asking students to think of some adjectives that describe themselves and write them in sentences or list form. Demonstrate by listing adjectives about yourself on the board. Share with the class and explain thinking.
  • Hand out copies of our lesson Chinese New Year Signs & Symbols.
  • Read through the 'Chinese Zodiac' sections together as a class. Stop and discuss.
  • Allow students to read about the symbols. Direct them to locate the animal that represents their own birth year.
  • Have students refer back to their self-describing adjectives then compare and contrast the characteristics listed on the animal to their self-describing traits. Discuss in partner pairings or small groups.
  • If the students' animal descriptions are good matches, have students sketch their animal and write the description beneath. If the students' animal descriptions are not good matches, allow students to choose another animal that is a better match or create their own. Sketch and write new descriptions.
  • Have students decorate their pictures with crayons and markers, then hang in the room.


  • Hang lanterns and make red envelopes with fake money to hang in the classroom and hand out on your Chinese New Year celebration, as detailed in the lesson.
  • Play traditional Chinese games, like Chinese dominoes.

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