Begin Celebrating Chinese New Year in the Classroom January 19 2012

Chinese New Year is a great excuse to practice important skills while celebrating an important part of Chinese culture.

When is Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year is based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar, which is 2,640 years older than our calendar, and can begin on any date between Janaury 21st and February 18th each year. The date of Chinese New Year is determined by the date of the New Moon in Aquarius.

For 2012, Chinese New Year occurs on Monday, January 23rd and is the year of the Dragon.

Which Animal are You?

Each year is named for a specific animal, and that the animal ruling the particular year of your birth will effect your life and personality. According to Chinese folklore, each person has the personality characteristics of the animal ruling the year they were born.

Tiger
1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010

Personality characteristics of those born under the year of the Tiger include bravery, loyalty, intelligence, stubborn and competent. Tigers can tend to get in a lot of trouble, but they make great friends.

Rabbit
1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011

Personality characteristics of those born under the year of the Rabbit include luck, independence, happiness, intelligence, and a desire to know how things work.

Dragon
1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012

Personality characteristics of those born under the year of the Dragon include honesty, stubborness, loyalty and plenty of energy.

Snake
1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013

Personality characteristics of those born under the year of the Snake include focus and wisdom, with a trust in their own judgement. Snake people like to help others and strive to do their best.

Horse
1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014

Personality characteristics of those born under the year of the Horse include shyness, quick-wittedness, cheerfulness and popularity. For some reason, horse people have a great deal of trouble believing they are loved, when in fact, horse people are easy to like and love.

Ram (Black or Gray Sheep)
1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015

Personality characteristics of those born under the year of the Sheep include wisdom, gentleness, elegance and compassion. They can be bossy because they like to see things done correctly.

Monkey
1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016

Personality characteristics of those born under the year of the Monkey include a tendency to chatter, but they are also funny, nosey, clever, witty, and successful.

Rooster
1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017

Personality characteristics of those born under the year of the Rooster include a tendency to rise early, be alert, think deeply and speak well. They like to stay close to home.

Dog
1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018

Those born under the year of the Dog tend to be loyal friends, quick to learn, eager to please, and always try to do their best. They prefer to be with people they know and like.

Pig
1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019

Personality characteristics of those born under the year of the Pig include a tendency to be late and forgetful, but they are also intelligent, sincere, brave, popular, and treat all people with great kindness.

Rat
1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

Personality characteristics of those born under the year of the Rat include cheerfulness and kindness. Rat people love to gossip, which can cost them many friendships if they are not careful.

Ox
1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021

Personality characteristics of those born under the year of the Ox include a tendency to be easy going and self-assured, which helps help them to be successful. Ox people have thoughtful responses. Ox people love deeply and share their strength with those they love.

Printable Chinese Zodiac Charts

Begin exploring Chinese New Year with these printable Chinese Zodiac charts. Print out the animals that apply to the kids in your classroom based on the years they were born, or have them explore the entire zodiac chart by photocopying a booklet for each child.

Chinese New Year Recommended Reading

The following list of books can help you and your students explore Chinese New Year together. Before reading together and independently, fill out a K-W-L chart with your class, to be completed once you have more information.

To add more depth to your reading, fill out a process grid on chart paper about Chinese New Year that includes information about food, music, stories, decorations, gifts and traditions. Then use this information to compare and contrast Chinese New Year with our traditional New Year celebrations in America.

  • My China Travel Journal by Laura Barta
  • Celebrating Chinese New Year by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith
  • Chinese New Year for Kids by Cindy Roberts
  • Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin
  • Fortune Cookie Fortunes by Grace Lin
  • Grandfather Tang's Story by Ann Tompert
  • Happy, Happy Chinese New Year by Demi Hitz
  • Lanterns and Firecrackers - A Chinese New Year Story (Festival Time) by Jonny Zucker
  • Lion Dancer by Kate Waters
  • Moonbeams, Dumplings, and Dragon Boats by Nina Simonds, Leslie Swartz, and The Children's Museum, Boston
  • Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn
  • The Dancing Dragon by Marcia K. Vaughan
  • The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop
  • This Next New Year by Janet S. Wong
  • Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel

These reading and zodiac activities are really simple ways to begin celebrating Chinese New Year in the classroom. These easy activities require a little planning, but offer an infusion of colorful culture and fun while allowing your students time to review and practice a variety of reading skills.