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Chinese New Year: 7 Multi-Sensory Lesson Ideas

Chinese New Year is one of the most important and most celebrated festival for Chinese all around the world. It’s translated to Spring Festival (春节) in Chinese, and it marks the first day of a new year in the Chinese Lunar Calendar. This year (2023) Chinese New Year is on January 22nd 2023. And this year is the Year of the Rabbit. Chinese New Year is a popular and exciting topic to teach at school or home school, and incorporating multi-sensory activities will ensure everyone can get the most out of this topic and have fun whilst learning!

1. Baking and Cooking

Baking is always a popular lesson, combining sensory experience with listening and attention skills, as well as teamwork, life skills, literacy skills and maths skills. And if your class enjoy cooking, then there’s a whole collection of Chinese New year themed recipes;

2. Chinese Counting Tuff Trays

Tuff Tray activities are a firm favourite in many classes and it allows multiple pupils to access an activity at once. For this Chinese New Year activity, fill your tuff tray with coloured rice, pom poms or blocks. Dot around some Chinese take-out boxes, each labelled with a number or colour and lay out some chopsticks. Children can use the chopsticks to pick up either the rice (for those who have great fine motor skills) or the pom poms and place the correct amount or colour into the corresponding take out box.

3. Paper Plate Fans

A great activity for EYFS and KS1 both in school and at home! Grab some paper plates and surround yourself with various decorative craft stuff. You could use paint, glitter, sponge art, or coloured pens/crayons to decorate your plate however you like. Once finished, simply fold in half and voila, an easy decorative fan!

4. Mandarin Orange Pairs

During Chinese New Year, there is a tradition to exchange a pair of mandarin oranges. The oranges symbolise gold thus the gesture wishes prosperity to the recipient. The Chinese believes that even numbers (except the number 4) brings good luck (好事成双). Pair the mandarin oranges by matching the numbers to the number of dots on them.

5. Crayon Resist Chinese Banners

Write Chinese New Year greetings on painting paper with a crayon. Press hard. Then paint over with red water colours and see the words reveal magically! You could even use traditional Chinese calligraphy brushes. See below for a list of common Chinese New Year greetings.

  • 新年好 - New Year Goodness/Good New Year

  • 新年快乐 - New Year Happiness

  • 恭喜发财 - Happiness and prosperity

6. Hand Painting Chinese Dragon

You will have all undoubtedly done the hand print art with your sensory learners or if you teach EYFS/KS1. For those children who like the feel of paint, get them to paint their hands in traditional Chinese colours of red and yellow and make hand prints on plain or coloured card. If you have children who don't like mess or the sensation of paint, they can draw around their hands on card and then decorate with other mediums like crayons or glitter. Cut the hand prints out and then arrange in a long, winding trail to resemble a Chinese dragon.

7. Toilet Roll Firecrackers

This eco-friendly craft project is great for all EYFS and primary ages and is, often, mess free. Collect toilet paper rolls! If you know me, you know I love collecting cardboard and toilet paper rolls to do crafts with. It drives my other half crazy, but we do make some amazing things when I'm in school so jokes on him! You then want to measure and cut rectangular pieces of red card and cover the toilet paper rolls. Using strips of yellow/gold card or washi tape, create a line around each end of the firecracker AKA toilet paper roll. Finally, glue a circle of card that fits the end of the firecracker on to the end so that no filling can escape.

Now you want to place the empty firecrackers into a sensory bin that has been filled with coloured raw rice. You can also fill sensory bins with jingle bells , pasta or other small items to make different sounds. Offer scoops and now children can scoop up their filling and fill their firecrackers. Once full, glue on another circle to the other end of the firecracker and then shake shake shake!

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