Chinese New Year Curriculum


Shine Your Pennies

In the Chinese New Year Tradition, red envelopes are given to children containing brand new money. Make old pennies shiny and new with this science activity.

Combine 1/2 cup vinegar with 4 tablespoons salt. Dip in your penny and see what happens. If you would like to extend this activity, you can make it into experiment. Fill 4 bowls with the following ingredients and see what happens when you dip in a penny.

1 bowl vinegar

1 bowl salt

1 bowl salt and vinegar

1 bowl salt and water

Let the children hypothesize about what they think will happen. Encourage them to use their skills of observation to describe what happens after dipping each penny in a bowl.


Every year, we read a great book called “Moy Moy” by Leo Politi. (it’s an older book, but can still be found in libraries). The book is a little bit long, so you might have to paraphrase for very young children with short attention spans. It’s great, and my kids LOVE it.


For Chinese New Year

I place different sized cotton balls, (small, jumbo etc) in the sensory table. I provided the children with chopsticks. I went to my nearby Chinese restaurant and got two small, two large to go boxes. I placed this in the sensory table as well. The children had a wonderful time trying to pick up the cotton balls with the chopsticks as well as using comparison words, sorting by size, matching (small cotton balls to small box). I share my classroom with the after school program (grades 5-6) and they loved this activity too!


This year for Chinese New Year, we really went to town. One of the children in my class is Chinese and her parents donated some red money envelopes (you can find them in Chinese grocery stores), we then photocopied them and had the children glue them to red construction paper envelopes that we had made. We stuffed each envelope with fake money from the dollar store and the children were able to wish each other good luck by handing out their envelopes. We made dragon masks with a simple dragon face glued to construction paper with a tongue depressor handle and we held a dragon parade. Finally for the lantern festival following New Year, we made red construction paper lanterns.


For the Chinese New Year- we read Sam and the Lucky Money( on audio Cd-has great sound affects) and the I give out red envelopes with the correct amount of money for our pop machine. But you could give out what amount you wanted and set up a small store for them to use their money in. My kids last year thought this was great. While we were drinking our pop, we ate Ramen noodle with chopsticks. This went over great.

Share an idea you have used in your classroom or at home that pertains to this theme.