Chinese New Year: Compare, Contrast, and Celebrate! (K-5 Lesson) Blog Feature

By: Julia Cremin on January 22nd, 2015

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Chinese New Year: Compare, Contrast, and Celebrate! (K-5 Lesson)

Grade Level: Primary (PK-2) | Grade Level: Intermediate (3-6) | VariQuest Tools: Perfecta 2400 | VariQuest Tools: Cutout Maker 1800 | Academic Subject: Social Studies and History | Featured Topics: Classroom Celebrations/Holidays | Academic Subject: Interdisciplinary | Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities

Looking for resources for the 2020 Chinese New Year? Check out our blog post here.

The Chinese New Year falls on February 19, 2015. In this lesson, students will read about Chinese New Year traditions, compare them to American traditions, then celebrate by practicing one of the Chinese New Year traditions.


Edit the 2 Column Comparison Chart (ORG001) so that the text boxes at the top of each column read: American New Year Traditions and Chinese New Year Traditions; also change the graphic to Happy New Year (HOL329). Then print a poster-sized copy using the Poster Maker or Perfecta. As you can see, we chose to print in full-color using the Perfecta 2400!

Using red construction paper or cardstock, cut out A2 Envelope (CRD104), one for each student. 


Part 1

Introduce this activity by asking students about the traditions they take part in over New Year’s. Record student ideas on the left side of the compare and contrast anchor chart, under the heading American New Year Traditions.  

Distribute copies of an informational text about the Chinese New Year to students. Consider using the article, It’s Chinese New Year, which is available to download at Have students read the article with a partner, then share back out with the whole group one or two things they learned about the traditions practiced during the Chinese New Year.

Record the traditions students have learned about the Chinese New Year in the right column of the compare and contrast chart. Help students to identify any similarities between the traditions of the two cultures, and any differences by marking the chart (ex. write a star next to similarities and circle any differences).

Part 2


Explain to students that they will each receive a lucky red envelope to assemble, and an index card to write a positive message to another student in class. Remind students that the color red is supposed to bring good fortune and ward off evil spirits. Note: in order to ensure that all students receive a message, write the name of each student at the top of an index card, and hand the cards out randomly.

Students should write a positive message to the student whose name appears on the top of the index card they receive, then place the message they’ve written inside the envelope. Have students deliver the envelope to the appropriate classmate.

When students finish assembling their red envelopes and writing the messages, have them write a short paragraph describing the similarities and differences between the way Americans and Chinese celebrate the New Year.

As an extension, have students read the following ReadWorks passage about how different cultures around the world celebrate this holiday.

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Julia Cremin is a 6th grade Reading, Language Arts and Math teacher at O'Keeffe Middle School in Madison, WI. She is certified in Elementary Education (grades 1-9) with a minor in Mathematics. This is her fourth year teaching middle school.