The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, has been celebrated in China and Chinese communities for thousands of years. This Chinese tradition represents the beginning of spring, and the start of a new year according the Chinese lunar calendar. This festival celebrates removing the bad and the old, and welcoming the new and the good. The Chinese dragon is a symbol of strength, wisdom, health, and good luck.
Representing and learning about various cultures is essential for creating inclusive and welcoming early childhood classrooms. Allow children to create their own Chinese dragon for the Lunar New Year as they learn about this ancient tradition and its meaning with this activity from The GIANT Encyclopedia of Kindergarten Activities.
- Cardboard box
- Scissors or knife (adult only)
- Egg carton or Styrofoam balls
- Diaper pin
- Colorful blanket or material
- Small bed
What To Do
- Make a Chinese dragon with the children for the Chinese New Year (see the illustration beow).
- First find a box that will fit over a child's head and shoulders to create dragon head.
- Cut a square opening to be the mouth on three sides, leaving one side uncut. Attach a string so that you can open or close the mouth wearing the head.
- Encourage the children to paint the box whatever color they choose.
- When the box is dry, glue two egg carton cups or two halves of a Styrofoam ball on the box for eyes.
- Cut long strings of thick yarn. Encourage the children to attach to the yarn to the top sides of the box for a mane. Mixing colors of yarn adds a beautiful effect to your dragon's mane.
- Glue a jewel to the center an egg carton cup and glue it to the center of the dragon's head. This is the dragon's jeweled eye.
- Add triangle-shaped ears to the head. Attach a small bell to the mane or ears.
- When the dragon head is completed, choose one child to be the head. Use a diaper safety pin to attach the blanket or material on the child. Or, cut a hole in the material and put it over the child's head.
- Select a few other children to stand in a line and hold onto each other's shoulders. Place the material over their bodies to represent the dragon's body. The custom is to keep the dragon moving at all times so the dragon never stands still.
- Encourage the other children in the class to make loud noises using drums, bells, and other musical instruments. They should accompany the dragon wherever he goes to bring him good luck. Bring the dragon around the school to other classrooms or around the neighborhood to bring good luck for the New Year.
- Read books to learn about more customs, such as how it is customary to feed the dragon a red envelope, or salad from shopkeepers.