Happy Chinese New Year! 5 Crafts and Activities for Kids

Did you know that many people living in Asia haven’t rung in the New Year yet? More than 2 billion people celebrate Chinese New Year (also called Lunar New Year and Spring Festival), and the festivities begin on Saturday, February 10, this year. Are you wondering how you can celebrate Chinese New Year with your family? This blog will give you all the information you need to know about the holiday. Plus, you’ll get five Chinese New Year crafts for kids.

What Is Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year is a very important event in China, as well as in a few additional Asian countries like South Korea, Vietnam, and others that use a lunisolar calendar.  

Each new year is represented by a zodiac animal. This year’s animal is the dragon. It symbolizes wealth, wisdom, and strength.

Legend says the tradition of Lunar New Year began in ancient times when an evil beast showed up to eat people and animals. The people hung up red papers, lit lanterns, and wore red clothes to scare the beast away. Many of those traditions still continue today!

Today, people celebrate Chinese New Year over a period of 15 days. Visiting relatives, eating special food, and cleaning the house are just a few of the traditions associated with the event. 

You can learn more about Asian culture, celebrations, and traditions as you and your family enjoy the holiday this year. To get you started, here are five arts and crafts projects to use while celebrating Chinese New Year!

1. Chinese New Year Lucky Envelopes with FREE Template

Giving red envelopes to friends and family is a very popular Chinese New Year tradition. The envelopes are filled with crisp bills of currency to symbolize good luck in the New Year and the hope of a positive future. But, don’t stuff the envelope with any amount of money that includes a “4” because that number is bad luck! Amounts that include an “8” are good luck!

To start this project, you’ll need to download and print the FREE PDF envelope template below.

2. FREE Chinese New Year Coloring Pages

If you need a really quick art activity, simply print these FREE coloring pages. Kids can color an adorable Chinese dragon and a zodiac-themed rabbit. Plus, there’s a word search!

3. Chinese Lantern Craft

A Lantern Festival is held on the final day of the Chinese New Year celebrations. People decorate their houses with red lanterns, inside and out. Many lanterns are inscribed with riddles and wordplay. Some cities host parades that feature huge lanterns on floats!

What You’ll Need: 8 ½” x 11” piece of red cardstock, gold paint or glitter glue (optional), pencil (optional), scissors, tape or stapler, ribbon or string

What You’ll Do:

1. If you’d like, decorate the piece of red cardstock with gold paint or glitter glue. Set it aside to dry.

2. Fold the red cardstock in half lengthwise.

3. Starting from the folded side, make a series of cuts that are about 1 or 2 inches apart. You don’t want to cut all the way across the paper. Stop the cut about 1 inch from the unfolded edge. Continue creating cuts until you’ve reached the top of the paper.

4. Unfold the paper and you’ll see all of the slits you made! Now roll the paper to create a cylinder shape and tape or staple the ends together. If you’d like, you can refold the individual strips of paper so the creases are on the outside instead of the inside of the lantern.

5. Cut a piece of ribbon or string to be a handle. Attach it to the inside of the lantern.

4. Chinese Dragon Puppets

Dragons are an important part of Chinese folklore and history. Chinese mythology says a dragon was involved in creating the world and the Chinese emperors are sons of that dragon. At many Chinese New Year celebrations, there’s a dragon dance in which a number of people join together to move a large dragon costume in harmony. This act ensures good luck in the New Year.

What You’ll Need: glue stick, tape, scissors, pencil, black marker, construction paper in a variety of colors, colored tissue paper or feathers, googly eyes, two straws or chopsticks, a large bowl and a small bowl to be used for tracing

What You’ll Do:

1. Trace the large bowl on a piece of construction paper to create the dragon’s head. Cut it out. Trace the small bowl on a piece of red or pink construction paper to create the inside of the dragon’s mouth. Cut it out.

2. Glue the mouth circle on top of the head circle. Fold the piece in half.

3. Draw two rows of teeth on white construction paper. Leave extra room at the bottom so that you can fold over a flap to use for gluing the teeth onto the mouth. Cut it out. Glue the teeth in the mouth.

4. Set your googly eyes on the construction paper and draw a large arch around each one. Again, leave extra room at the bottom so you’ll have a flap to fold over as you glue. Cut out the arches and glue the googly eyes onto them. Fold over the flap and glue both eyes on top of the dragon’s head.

5. Draw a large M-shape with a straight line across the bottom to create a nose. Be sure the bottom extends far enough to fold over a flap for gluing. Draw two dots to make nostrils. Cut out the nose and glue it to the dragon’s head.

6. Glue feathers or tissue paper all over the top of the dragon’s head. Set it aside to dry.

7. Cut 1-inch-wide strips of construction paper and link them into a paper chain to create the dragon’s body. Cut a triangle out of construction paper and glue it to the last piece of the paper chain as a tail. Add more feathers and tissue paper, if you’d like.

8. Tape or glue the first link of the paper chain to the back of the dragon’s head.

9. Attach a straw or chopstick behind the dragon’s head and add another one near the end of the paper chain. Moving these “handles” up and down will make the dragon dance!

5. Cupcake Liner Chinese Dragon Craft for Kids

Most of us see dragons as dangerous monsters, but in Chinese culture they are symbols of prosperity, power, and luck. The dragon is also one of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs, so people born in certain years like 2000 and 2012 are said to be very successful, highly intelligent, ambitious, and powerful.

What You’ll Need: scissors, glue stick, black construction paper or cardstock, 10-15 mini cupcake liners, yellow tissue paper, white paper, brown paper, googly eyes, and red yarn or pipe cleaner

What You’ll Do:

1. Cut the cupcake liners in half. (Save two cupcake liners for the face.)

2. Arrange the cupcake liners in the shape of a dragon’s body on your black paper. Start with the curved part of a cupcake liner facing the left side of your paper. From there, layer on the other cupcake liners to make the dragon twist and turn! When you’re happy with the design, glue the cupcake liners onto the paper.

3. Now make the face. First, fold both of the cupcake liners in half and trim the sides so you have two shapes that look like squares. Discard the pieces you cut off.

4. Open one of the liners and cut off one half. Throw away one half and glue the remaining half of the cupcake liner to the paper as the top of the dragon’s head.

5. Glue the bottom of the second liner below the head. Be sure to put the fold at the top so the mouth will open and close.

6. Cut a few individual teeth out of the white paper and glue them inside the mouth.

7. Cut a few short strips of yellow tissue paper and crumple them a bit. Glue them as if they’re fire coming out of the mouth! Then glue the mouth shut.

8. Cut two horns from the brown paper and glue them onto the dragon’s head. Also add googly eyes and draw two nostrils.

9. Finish by cutting two small strips of red yarn or pipe cleaner. Glue them to the dragon as whiskers.

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