Chinese New Year kids activities: how to make a Chinese lantern and other arts and crafts activities to celebrate

Here are fun ways to keep your toddlers and teenagers entertained with fun recipes, arts and crafts activities related to Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is has arrived, with celebrations taking place in Asia and around the world throughout the weekend of 12-14 February.

While you might not be able to dine in your favourite Chinese restaurant due to lockdown, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate in your household.

Sign up to our History and Heritage newsletter

Sign up to our History and Heritage newsletter

Here is how people traditionally celebrate Chinese New Year, and how you can welcome the Year of the Ox in lockdown.

Make an Ox face mask to celebrate the Year of the Ox, using the step by step guide below

How is Chinese New Year traditionally celebrated?

Millions of people all over the world celebrate Chinese New Year in their communities and families.

Before the celebrations begin, people deep clean their homes. This is because it’s bad luck to sweep or clean on the day in case you sweep the good luck for the year ahead out of your home.

The celebrations are also called the spring festival in Chinese culture, and businesses and schools close much like they do in the UK at Christmas.

People come together to celebrate with food and parties - noodle soup is a tradition as the noodles are thought to bring luck.

Parades and performances are usually held too, and these celebrations often involve traditional costumes, fireworks, and beautifully decorated dragons.

The colourful lights and bangs of fireworks are supposed to ward off evil spirits.

In Chinese culture, people may also decorate their homes with red lanterns and decorations.

Here are seven fun activities to celebrate as a family - from recipes to lantern making.

Chinese noodle soup

While adults and older children may be more adventurous and willing to try this Tom Kerridge recipe, here is an easy recipe for tasty noodle soup for two people:

900ml chicken stock or Miso soup mix

1 chopped chicken breast - skinless and boneless

1 tsp chopped fresh ginger

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

50g wheat or rice noodles

100g baby corn

100g mushroom

2 spring onions, chopped finely

2 tsp soy sauce

Step 1 - Add the broth, chicken, garlic and ginger to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Then turn the heat down and leave to simmer for 20 minutes

Step 2 - Add the noodles, chopped mushrooms, sweet corn and soy sauce and allow to simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Step 3 - serve in a bowl with chopsticks or a spoon, garnish with spring onions

Fortune cookie recipe

This is a great idea for getting kids to think about what they would like from the year ahead.

Step 1 - have your child think about what they and others might wish to achieve and accomplish this year, have them write their ideas down on small pieces of paper (about 1cm thick and 5cm long).

Step 2 - make the fortune cookies

You will need:

2 egg whites

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

3 tbsp sunflower oil

100g plain flour

2 tsp cornflour

100g caster sugar

2 tbsp black sesame seeds

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180C/160 fan. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet.

Step 2: Add the egg whites, vanilla extract, cold water and almond extract in a bowl and mix using an electric whisk or hand held whisk until the mixture is light and fluffy

Step 3: Add the flour, cornflour and caster sugar to the bowl and mix until combined fully and a smooth batter has formed. Then, chill the mixture for one hour.

Step 4: Line your baking tray with two or three circular shapes of batter and sprinkle with an inch of sesame seeds. Then, bake for 10-12 minutes until golden. (it is best to only do a few at a time as they must be folded and shaped while hot)

Step 5: Remove the cookies with a palette knife once baked and turn the cookie so that the seeds are on the bottom. Place one fortune in the middle of the circles and fold the circle in half, then pinch the edges together to seal.

Step 6: Bend the cookie on the rim of a mug or spoon handle and very gently pull to achieve the cookie shape. Hold for 10 secs, then transfer the cookies to muffin tins so that they hold their shape whilst cooling completely.

Repeat with the remaining cookie mixture.

Flying paper plate dragon

You will need:

One paper plate per dragon twirler

Coloured paint

2 printed dragon face and tail per twirler (or you could draw one)

Scissor

Glue

String and a stapler

Colouring pens

Brushes for painting

Step 1: Draw or print your dragon face and tail and colour in

Step 2: Paint your paper plate front and back in any colour you like - red is traditional

Step 3: Cut out your dragon face and tail

Step 4: Cut your plate in a spiral shape - like a snail. The thinner the spirals the longer the dragon will be

Step 4: Glue your piece of string between the two dragon faces, on the side which is not coloured and staple the head to one end of the spirals. Then repeat with the other end of the string and the tails.

Step 5: Thread the string through the spirals on your dragon and then staple the tail to the other end of the spirals.

Create a loop with a smaller piece of string and staple this to the tail-end of the dragon and it is ready to hang.

Paper Chinese lanterns

This fun an effective lantern guide can be created with just one sheet of paper and sellotape or a stapler.

Step 1. Start with a sheet of A4 paper. Cut a strip of paper from the long edge of the paper, about one inch wide. This will be used as the handle of the lantern.

Step 2: Fold the paper in half along the longer edge, then cut strips from the folded edge lengthwise towards the edge of the paper. Be careful to keep the strips connected by not cutting all the way through the paper.

Step 3: Unfold the paper and bend the paper on to bring the short edges to meet. Join the short ends of the paper together with tape or staples. Tape or staple on the inch wide piece of paper you originally cut off to make a handle.

You can decorate your lantern with colouring pens or paint and make a string of them by repeating then joining them together with string.

Paper weight dragons

These dragons are colourful, effective and safe for younger children to make.

You will need:

Two balloon weights per dragon (foil paper wrapped weights look most effective)

Two popsicle sticks per dragon

Paper

Pens for colouring

Sticky tape

Glue

Step 1: Draw and colour in your dragon - try and keep the dragon’s feet at the bottom of the paper.

Step2: Glue the bottom of your dragon onto your popsicle sticks vertically, leaving about half the popsicle stick hanging over the edge of the paper.

Step 3: Sticky tape your popsicle sticks to the paper weights at the other end.

You should now have a colourful, standing dragon paper weight.

Paper tube fireworks painting

Fireworks are thought to scare off demons due to their vibrant colours and loud noises - you might not be able to replicate the loud band, but you could decorate your home in cool colourful art.

You will need:

Various coloured liquid paints

Craft paper (preferably black or dark blue)

Various empty toilet roll tube

Step 1: cut one end of your toilet paper tube in many short vertical strips to the centre of the cardboard and flex each strip outwards you.

Step 2: choose your paint palette colours and ensure you have the same number of flexed toilet roll tubes as you do paint colours.

Step 3: Dunk your toilet paper tube’s flexed strips into the paint and then onto the paper, lifting to leave circular, fanned firework shapes.

Repeat until you have produced a night sky of stunning colours.

Ox paper plate mask

2021 is the year of the Ox - twelve animals rotate on the lunar calendar with one being named the animal which represents each year.

Celebrate the year of the Ox with this quirky paper plate Ox face.

You will need:

A paper plate

Craft paper

Brown paint

Colouring pens

Scissors

Glue

Step 1: Paint the bottom of the paper plate brown

Step 2: On craft paper, draw and colour two rectangles for eyebrows, a tuft of hair, 2 horns, a pair of ears and a pink circle with a smile inside it (similar to those in the photo above)

Step 3: Cut out the template pieces.

Step 4: Glue the circle smile and eyebrows onto the plate to make a paper plate face and glue the ears and horns onto either side of the head.

Step 5: Cut out holes for eyes in a mask).

Add string to the back to hold onto your face, or glue a popsicle stick to the bottom of the mask to use as a handle to hold to your face.