Chinese New Year Storytime

Xīn nián kuài lè!
年 快 乐
Happy New Year! Chinese New Year is one of the most important celebrations in Chinese culture, and has influenced the Lunar New Year celebrations of many East and Southeast Asian cultures. It’s a great way to introduce the concept of children being citizens of the world.

Talking Points:

  • What are some ways you celebrate New Years with your family?
  • Chinese New Year celebrations have many interesting traditions. Some families gift each other money in red envelopes to bring luck and good fortune for the year. Often you’ll see the color red during Chinese New Year celebrations, because it’s a lucky color–in traditional stories, it scares away the bad dragon Nian and welcomes a good year.
  • Chinese New Year celebration usually begins during the new moon between Jan 21 and Feb 20th, and lunar festivals last for fifteen days.
  • Dragon dance is a form of traditional dance and performance in Chinese culture. The dance is performed during big festive celebrations, like the lunar new year! It is performed by a team of experienced dancers who manipulate a long flexible giant puppet of a dragon using poles positioned at regular intervals along the length of the dragon. We’re going to make our own Dragon puppet as a craft later in Storytime!

Read: Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim

Video by Children’s Books Read Aloud

Sing: If you’re A Dragon and you Know it! (to the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It)

If you’re a dragon and you know it,
Show your claws.
If you’re a dragon and you know it,
Show your claws.
If you’re a dragon and you know it,
And you really want to show it,
If you’re a dragon and you know it,
Show your claws.
(Have the kids tell you what other traits dragons have and make up new verses with these traits. Examples: swish your tail, say “rooooar”, stomp your talons.)

Play: Throw a coin into the lion’s mouth for good luck! This is a great game for kids of all ages, especially for the toddlers (if you can prevent them from trying to eat the coins right away). We purchased these coins on Amazon, printed a lion head and used a bucket for the mouth. Image below for inspiration!

Read: Chinese New Year Colors by Rich Lo

Video by Mrs. Kim’s Building Blocks

Scarf Activities: As you read Chinese New Year Colors, pair colorful scarves with the colors depicted in the book. Raise the red scarf, yellow scarf, blue scarf, etc.

Sing: Wave Your Scarf Up and Down (to the tune of London Bridge, as seen on Jbrary)

Wave your scarf up and down, up and down, up and down

wave your scarf up and down, wave your scarf!

Wave your scarf back and forth, side to side, in a circle, etc.

Read: Bringing In The New Year by Grace Lin

Video created by Happy Cultivated

Craft: We crafted dancing dragons from Red Ted Art! Red Ted Art includes a free print out for crafting a dancing dragon puppet. All you need is the template, construction paper, scissors, tape or glue, and some popsicle sticks.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Children will learn about a Chinese celebration, increasing their knowledge of global communities. Families will have the opportunity to participate in cultural traditions, opening dialogue and comparisons of New Years celebrations around the world.
  • Children will practice kindergarten readiness such as color work, critical thinking, fine motor skills and gross motor skills.

Our Chinese New Year Celebration program: We hosted an all-ages family friendly Chinese New Years event at our library this year. We were so grateful to have a Chinese American volunteer who brought significant knowledge to our event and helped us plan and deliver programming. In consideration of COVID regulations, we created activity stations throughout an open room and allowed children and families to walk-through our displays and participate in activities at their leisure. The program lasted and hour and was attended by over 65 adults and children. We were so excited and grateful for this opportunity.

Our activity stations included:

  • Toss a Coin in the Lion’s Mouth, as described in the storytime above.
  • Red Envelopes given to every participant, packed with gold coins wrapped in red string
  • Lucky Red Art, where children learned about the impact of the color red and created their own red talisman (free create)
  • Red Lantern Craft. Children crafted a simple red lantern and learned about the significance of lanterns in Chinese culture.
  • Learn to write Chinese characters. Our volunteer taught children how to write the word “spring” with brushes and scrolls she brought to the event.
  • The Zodiac Race. We played a slideshow on a smart screen which told the story of the zodiac animals. Children could then try to put the zodiac animals in order of how they won the race.
  • Zodiac Fortunes for Teens/Adults. The teen department created zodiac bookmarks which provided fortunes to patrons based on the year they were born.
  • Traditional Clothing. Our volunteer provided traditional formal clothing from China.
  • Book displays. We provided a children, teen and adult book display around our activity stations to support literacy initiatives and extend the experience for patrons.

Photos provided by Savvy B Photography

And that’s the End: I can’t believe how amazing our Chinese New Years programs turned out to be this year. It’s all thanks to our amazing volunteer and our totally enthusiastic staff at the library. Every department pitched in, from Circulation to Youth Services to Reference. Not only did we bring a program we could feel proud of, but the community really enjoyed it and saw value in what we were doing. Hope you’re all having a new year full of luck, good fortune, and good health.

Keep Kids Curious!