Celebrate Chinese New Year in your early years setting

EYFS Chinese New Year Activities

Chinese New Year, also referred to as Lunar New Year, is the Chinese festival which celebrates the New Year on the traditional Chinese calendar. The Chinese calendar calculates the days, months and years based on astronomical phenomena. Because the calendar accords to patterns of the solar calendar the date of the Chinese New Year varies year-to-year. It usually falls on the second new moon following the December solstice.

The Chinese Zodiac animals are often used to represent years. 2020 is the Year of the Rat. The Zodiac signs play an integral part in Chinese culture and can be used to determine your fortune for that year. Different meanings and characteristics are assigned to each animal, for example the rat (鼠—shŭ), represents people who like saving and collecting. Although normally deemed successful ,they don’t look for praise.

Chinese New Year is a perfect way to introduce your early years children to different cultures and traditions that may not be familiar to them or their families. It’s also a perfect way to keep celebrations going following Christmas and New Year!

There are many different ways to celebrate and learn about the traditions of Chinese New Year, here’s our top three EYFS Chinese New Year activates that you can use at try school, nursery or preschool.

1) Chinese Food

During lunch or tea time take the opportunity for children to try different food from China and expand their taste buds. You could try lots of pick ‘n’ mix bowls with common chinese food. Spring rolls, prawn crackers, rice, sweet and sour chicken or tofu, as well as many other common dishes can be made in your setting.

Alternatively, children can contribute to the whole setting’s lunch or tea by making their own Chinese foods. This can get children excited about the food they’re going to eat. Above all, it gives your chef a helping hand!

Try these simply recipes that your early years children can make and enjoy:

2) Chinese Dragon Painting

There are many different ways you can go about painting a Chinese Dragon to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Try a painting or messy play activity and create a dragon using hand and footprints, this means that children of all ages can be involved. Use green, orange, yellow and red paint to create the long body and head of the dragon. Older children can then add the details, for instance, big google-y eyes, scales and whiskers/moustache.

You can create individual dragons or bring together multiple pieces to make a larger dragon for a mesmerising display board!

3) Chinese New Year Writing

Your children may have been working on phonics, numbers or even talking about animals recently, use these subjects and incorporate them in to your Chinese writing activity. For younger children a simply painting activity with black paint is great way to work on those little muscles. For older children, try a look-and-copy activity – don’t worry it doesn’t have to be perfect!

Children can also use laminated sheets to trace the Chinese letters and then wipe clean for another child to use or to be used next year!


Don’t forget to decorate your rooms for the occasion. For example, make displays of children’s artwork, use lanterns and lots of red colours to spark children’s imagination and wonder.

Discover more information on Chinese New Year and other EYFS activities below:

Get your children excited for Christmas and New Year

Top 10 EYFS Christmas and New Year Activities

As Christmas and New Year quickly approach (where has 2019 gone?!), its only right that you and your early years setting get in to the festive spirit. It’s the most wonderful time of year – so get those sleigh bells jingle-ing, ring-ting tingle-ing, put down your pens, tablets and laptops, and get cracking with these EYFS Christmas and New Year ideas!

1) Trip to Santa’s Grotto

A really simple way to get children excited for the festive season is to take a trip to see arguably one of the most important men of the season, Santa!

Many local farms, shopping centres or pop-up Winter Wonderlands will have arranged a visit from Santa, his hard-working elves and his trusty reindeer. Children have the chance to talk to Santa about how they’ve been good this year and what they hope to receive at Christmas. A perfect day for children of all ages!

2) Nativity Play

Whether you decide to tell the classic Christmas story of the birth of Jesus, tell the story of the princess and the frog or mash together a few of those classic jokes and Christmas songs, putting on a play or show can get the whole setting involved. Decide early what and when you’re going to perform so children’s families can schedule it in during this busy time of year. Babies, toddlers, tots, pre-schoolers and school children can all get involved. There was Spiderman and a lobster at the birth of Christ, right?

3) Make and Send Christmas Cards to Families

Children love to make cards for their family for any occasion, and friends and families love to receive them! There’s lots of different way to make EYFS Christmas cards; starting with card, of course! Our favourite ideas include reindeer thumb prints, Santa hands, cotton wool snowmen and footprints trees.

Each can be done by children of all ages (and finished with a little help from the grown-ups!). It’s also a perfect opportunity for older children to practice their writing skills!

Check out more ideas for Christmas cards:

4) Learn About Different Traditions

At this time of year, and throughout the rest of year, it’s always important to be inclusive of different cultures, different religions or simply different family traditions, especially when the children from your setting all come from different backgrounds.

Look in to EYFS activities surrounding Christian, Hanukkah and general community celebrations. Ask the children what they and their families will be doing over the Christmas and New Year break. This way everyone feels involved even if their celebrations are different.

5) EYFS Christmas Cooking

Children can contribute to the whole setting’s Christmas Lunch, it get’s children excited about the food they’re going to eat (and it gives your chef a helping hand!). Children can make and decorate their own gingerbread men deserts: Add sugar, self raising flow, ginger, an egg, butter and golden syrup. Once mixed together cut to shape, bake, decorate and eat!

You could even try to make some healthy options, especially with all the chocolate and mince pies we’re all likely to eat!

6) Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the Shelf origins are from the children’s book “The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition” by Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell, and has now become a worldwide phenomenon for putting the Elf in various places and in numerous circumstances. The book tells a Christmas-themed story, written in rhyme that explains how Santa Claus knows who is naughty and nice. It describes “scout-elves” visiting children and hiding in their homes to report back to Santa of the good and bad events that take place, with the scout elf playing an ongoing game of hide and seek with the family.

A great, yet simple way to instill good behaviour, and to get children involved in a variety of activities such as mark making, writing, speaking and reading, is to involve Elf on the Shelf. Some great resources and examples can be found here:

7) Firework Art Displays

Aside from the usual black card and bright colours displays you can also make lots of amazing artworkusing cardboard toilet rolls.

One activity is to create firework fans, dip them in different colour paint and print them on white or black paper. Children can place them on the card and then twist to make the firework trails! An alternative us for cardboard rolls is to create firework rockets. Children can paint them different colours and add matching cones on top, as well as attach some strips of tissue paper.

You could even try incorporating some Science activities with fireworks in glass jars.

8) ‘Happy New Year’ Bunting

A simple activity to dress up your setting either before you break up for Christmas or when your return after New Year. Cut out triangles of black card and set up a painting station. If children are old enough they can attempt to cut card in to triangles.

Children can then use brightly coloured chalk or paint to make the card a bright and as exciting as possible. You could get the younger children to use their hands and feet in a messy play activity, or get older children to write out ‘H-A-P-P-Y-N-E-W-Y-E-A-R’ on card to be the centre piece.

9) New Years Eve Hats

No New Year’s Eve party would be right without the appropriate headgear! Staff can use a shape template to cut out pieces of card that children can decorate with festive colours. Once finished you can make them in to a cone and add some elastic for children to wear. Like our ‘Happy New Year’ Bunting, try splattering paint outside or paint blowing using straws with bright colours to get the fireworks and celebration effect!

An alternative to making your own hats it to download a ready-made template and wear them during mini-New Year’s celebrations you can have in your setting.

10) Charity Events

Take part this year in different events to help raise money for national and local charities. These can be a great way to get staff, children and their families involved in nursery events and can mix up the daily routine in the build up to Christmas. Some high profile events you’ve probably heard of are:

You can also find out if your local charities are putting on any events that you and your setting can support. These can include raffles, Christmas markets, sponsored walks or runs, or supermarket packing.

From everyone at LearningBook, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!