Chinese New Year

A Great Teaching Opportunity

Use this popular festival as a great opportunity to teach your children key geographical knowledge about the country of China, and its customs and traditions. 

Interesting Facts

  • More than 1.43 billion people live in China
  • It is the 4th largest country in the world
  • The capital is Beijing
  • It is a communist state
  • People in China speak Mandarin and Chinese
  • The currency is called Yuan
  • The highest mountains in the world, the Himalayas, are in China
  • The longest river in China is called the Yangtze
  • The climate ranges from tropical to Arctic
  • The Giant Panda lives in China
  • China is famous for the Great Wall of China which is 8,850km long and is the longest wall in the world

Maths Challenges

Get your children manipulating numbers, patterns and shapes as they learn all about Chinese customs and traditions. Here are a few of my favourites:

  1. Tell the story of the first Chinese New Year and encourage the children to choose which animal they would like to be. Ask them to arrange themselves in the order that the animals finished the race. Use this as an opportunity to practise mathematical language such as before, after, between, first, second, last etc. 
  2. Show the children numbers written in Chinese. Put them in number lines and in calculations with numbers that children already recognise and challenge the children to use their problem solving skills to break the code and discover what numbers the Chinese symbols represent. 
  3. Set up a Chinese takeaway and make or obtain some Chinese currency and use it to buy items. Tell the children how much 1 Yuan equals in English money and challenge them to solve mathematical problems. 
  4. Provide the children with a blank grid to make up their own board game. Add the animals from the Chinese New Year story and a dice and encourage them to make up their own game with their own rules. 
  5. A tradition is to fill red envelopes with coins. Write the number of coins on a selection of red envelopes and ask the children to fill them with the correct amount. Challenge them further by putting calculations on the envelopes or partly fill the envelopes so that children can work out how many are missing.
  6. Use the traditional colours of this festival – red and yellow- to create patterns
  7. Another traditional custom is to make TANAGRAMS. This is where shapes are placed together to create pictures. Provide the children with a selection of regular and irregular shapes to create their own pictures and patterns on a small scale inside and on a large scale outside. 
  8. Use the animals in the Chinese New Year story to make different sets e.g. legs/no legs, number of legs, tail/no tail, bigger than/smaller than me. 
  9. Use the idea of a race to investigate time. Hold a similar race and measure how long it takes each participant to complete it. Compare the difference between the fastest and the slowest. Encourage the children to measure how long it takes them to do various activities. 
  10. Use the number of animals in the race to investigate the number 12. Count in 2s, 3s, 4s to 12. How many different ways can you make 12? How many sets of 2s, 3s, 4s, can you make with 12? Can you halve and double 12? Challenge children to use their number skills to solve problems using the story e.g. if 12 animals raced and 2 didn’t reach the other side how many would finish the race?