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Chinese New Year
Teachers and parents can find suggestions for using a story about Chinese New Year on the British Council's Language Assistant website.
Chinese New Year
Find links to Chinese New Year Materials for older children on the British Council's Learn English Central site.

Here are some websites that have useful information or activities about the topic of Chinese New Year.

Read a story about the origins of Chinese New Year. Make an ox or dragon decoration for your home, and find out about the different animals that make up the Chinese zodiac.

Make a Fortune Cookie
Help your child practise talking about the future using 'will'. Write fortunes like; 'You will be happy.' 'You will have good luck.' and 'You will be rich.'

BBC Schools
More information about Chinese New Year, and how it is celebrated. Children can practise reading and writing and make a new year lantern.

using learnenglish kids with your child
Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is celebrated all over the world, in the UK there are processions and special events in many cities. Fireworks, dancing and special food make this an especially exciting time for children.

Chinese festivals are calculated according to the Lunar calendar. This follows a twelve year cycle, each of the twelve years being named after an animal. Traditionally new year celebrations begin on the first day of the lunar month and last for fifteen days, ending at the full moon. This year Chinese New Year begins on 26th January.

You'll find resources about Chinese New Year on LearnEnglish Kids at: www.britishcouncil.org/kids-topics-chinese-new-year.htm

With these materials children will be able to:

Practise animal words and talk about different  Chinese New Year traditions.
Listen to and sing a song about Chinese New Year.
Read a story about how the Jade Emperor chose different animal names for the years.
Play a listening game to practise words to describe dragons and other animals
Make decorations for home or school.

Activities are for all ages and levels. Activities are marked with a symbol to indicate the best age group and level. Look at these when you choose which activities to use with your child.

Younger children will enjoy the story of how the Emperor decided which animals should have years named after them. They can make a lantern decoration for their home or school and may enjoy the song 'Happy New Year'.

Older children may also enjoy reading the story and finding out about different new year traditions.

Below you'll find an idea for an activity you can try with your child using some of these materials. On the left you'll see a list of links to resources about this topic on teaching websites and other external websites that you may find useful. Please note that the British Council is not responsible for the content of external websites.


There is a story on LearnEnglish Kids called 'The Great Race'. In this story tells of how the Jade Emperor organised a race among the animals to decide the order of the animal years. You can find the story here: www.britishcouncil.org/kids-stories-the-great-race

This activity reviews the names of the different animals that make up the Chinese zodiac. It can be used to help your child develop storytelling skills by using English to describe a sequence of events and organise a simple narrative. You may use this to practise sequencing words such as before, after and then. It might also be used to practise ordinal numbers (first, second...).

Print flashcards for the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. You can find these on the Chinese New Year topic page. Practise the names of the twelve animals with your child.
Read and listen to the story. Talk with your child about each scene in English or your own language if you feel this is more helpful. Check your child's understanding, and encourage them to predict what will happen next.
Turn off the computer screen. Using the flashcards, ask your child to put the animals in the order they finished the race. This will give them time to think about the story and build up their own understanding of it.
Help your child re-tell the story in English. Use the flashcards to help structure the story. Encourage them to present the story as a connected narrative, you may support them using then or after that.

You might follow up this by asking your child to imagine the animal that came thirteenth in the Great Race, after the pig. They could then imagine a thirteenth animal sign for the Chinese zodiac. They may draw and write about their ideas. What animal could it be? What characteristics would people born under this sign have? As the thirteenth animal would it be an unlucky sign?

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