11 Chinese New Year Crafts for Kids
We may have just celebrated the start of 2023, but the Chinese Lunar New Year kicks off on Sunday, Jan. 22.
In China, the mark of Lunar New Year is met with a fifteen-day celebration of festivities and family gathering, also known as the Spring Festival.
Traditional Chinese New Year celebrations for the Lunar New Year include red paper cuttings and doors filled with notes about wishes. Markets with food and sundries are set up, and meals are cooked to bring good luck.
On the final day of Lunar New Year, people enjoy tangyuan (sweet balls of rice) to celebrate the lantern festival. The 2023 zodiac animal is the rabbit.
Art projects are a fun way to teach kids about the Lunar New Year.
So we’ve rounded up some fun and easy DIY Chinese New Year crafts and activities for kids of all ages. These simple crafts are suited for all ages from preschoolers to big kids and beyond.
Related: Lunar New Year Celebration Ideas for Kids (& Recipes!)
Printable Year of the Rabbit Crafts
These paper crafts can be done for homeschooling, in a classroom, or just for fun with the family.
And your kids can make them with many things you probably already have around the house, like old toilet paper rolls, cupcake liners, and egg cartons.
Whether you want to make a hare out of a paper plate or help your child construct rabbit paper lanterns, there are many fun crafts focused on 2023’s year of the rabbit.
Kids can use safety scissors, but for very young children we recommend an adult or teen handle the paper cutting.
1. Handprint Rabbit
Image source: Twinkl
This printable template from Twinkl will allow your little ones to decorate and create a handprint rabbit to celebrate this year’s zodiac animal.
Let your kids get creative with paints, glitter, crayons, and markers in this straightforward craft.
2. Paper Rabbit Craft
Image source: Red Ted Art
Another rabbit craft, this paper rabbit puppet from Red Ted Art is an easy printable template featuring this year’s zodiac animal holding a celebratory lantern and donning a lily — a sacred flower
The flower symbolizes good fortune and prosperity and plays a big part in the Chinese New Year celebration. Kids can use coloring tools of their choice, adding decorations to bring
3. Paper Fortune Cookies
Fortune cookies are a quintessential part of the meal at most Chinese restaurants in America.
The tradition of fortune cookies started in Kyoto, Japan back in the 1870s when Japanese bakeries started making popular folded cookies with special messages inside.
In the early 1900s, Japanese immigrants in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California, started making fortune cookies as desserts in their restaurant and they eventually spread in popularity to become a popular after-dinner treat at American Chinese restaurants
Want the fun of fortune cookies without the baking aspect? Make some paper ones! Your children can help with the folding and fortune writing.
The video above from Happy Hooligans shows you an easy way to make your own colorful paper fortune cookies at home
Have fun with it by choosing unique colors of construction paper and letting kids come up with their own silly fortunes.
4. Paper Bag Chinese Dragon Puppet
Image source: FamilyEducation
The mythological Chinese Dragon, also known as “long” or “lung,” is a big part of Chinese culture. This story figure is known for its “heavenly beneficence and fecundity.”
Your kid will love to learn about them while doing this Chinese dragon craft puppet made from a paper bag, inspired by this printable DIY project from Pink Stripey Socks.
Follow Family Education’s step-by-step instructions to make your own Delightful Dragon Chinese Dragon Puppet!
5. Upcycled Egg Carton Dragon
Image source: Creating Creatives
Egg carton dragons are a fun and creative way to upcycle packaging. For this craft we suggest using toilet paper rolls and old straws, to help your children create their own unique 3-dimensional dragon.
For little kids, have them be in charge of the painting, while you handle cutting the carton into different sizes and shapes for the dragon’s face, eyes, and spikes.
Get the full instructions to make an Egg Carton Dragon.
6. Lunar New Year Drum Craft
Image source: Gift of Curiosity
A Bolang Gu, or pellet drum, is a traditional Chinese instrument used in ritual music. Children in China also often use them as toys.
Have your kids make their Chinese drum out of paper plates,strings, wooden dowels and pellets.
Twisting the wooden dowel on the finished drum will help your kids make a fun beat. Encourage them to decorate their project with stickers, drawings of rabbits, dragons, or another zodiac animal, or anything else that inspires them.
Learn how kids can make a Bolang Gu by following this tutorial.
7. Cupcake Liner Dragon
Check out this video tutorial for I Heart Crafty Things’ easy Cupcake Liner Dragon.
All you need are some liners, googly eyes, glue, scissors, paper, and decorations, and your kids can have fun making this straightforward craft into something special.
8. Paper Plate Dragon Twirler
This Paper Plate Dragon Twirler can provide your child with a fun sensory experience, through both the creation process and watching the completed project spin. You just need a paper plate, string, and stapler to make this fun project!
After painting a paper plate the traditional red, you can cut it to create a twirling toy.
Then have kids color in the dragon’s head, tail, and feet.
Watch the tutorial from Red Ted Art and download their free printable template to make this craft even easier!
9. Potato-Stamped Panda
Image source: I Heart Arts n Crafts
Have some old potatoes that are ready to be thrown out? Cut them in half and use them as panda stamps!
This potato-stamped panda craft from I Heart Arts and Crafts is pretty straight forward.
With some black, white, and pink finger paint, markers, construction paper colors of their choice, and cut potatoes, your family can make their own unique panda art.
10. Painted Chinese Paper Lantern
Image source: Getty Images
Chinese lanterns are a beautiful symbol of the Lunar New Year. Kids of all ages can participate in this easy paper lantern craft and hang their lanterns around the house.
With a few pieces of red paper, shiny gold ribbon, a hole punch, glitter, and paint, you can help your kids make beautiful Chinese Paper Lantern decorations by following the steps from Family Education’s Chinese Paper Lantern Craft.
They’ll start by painting with gold, shimmery acrylic or finger paint on large pieces of red paper. Many Chinese lanterns are works of art, painted with birds, animals, flowers, zodiac signs
Once the lanterns dry, you can help them measure and cut out their works of art into small, rectangle shaped pieces of paper that will be combined together to make
11. Customized Red Envelopes
Image source: Getty Images
In Chinese culture, the color red is associated with good luck. A popular Chinese New Year tradition is to give out Chinese red envelopes — or hong bao — filled with “lucky money” to friends and family members.
Make this generous gift even more special by having kids create their own DIY red envelopes that they can decorate with beautiful designs.
To create your own Chinese New Year red envelopes all you need is two pieces of red paper, scissors, tape, and some fun paint, markers or glitter to add decoration! Follow these easy steps for homemade red envelopes:
- Begin with two pieces of red paper and fold over one corner
- Cut along the edge to create a square.
- Place this square on top of the other red piece of paper and draw a line
- Cut along the line.
- Turn paper at an angle to make a diamond and fold one corner of the paper in toward the middle
- Fold the opposite corner toward the middle.
- Fold the bottom of the paper up to the middle.
- Fold the top of the paper down so it overlaps where the other corners meet.
Now you have your envelope and it’s time to decide on a special surprise to put inside! You can use real money or have your kids write special messages or fortunes to seal in their envelopes.
Once you’ve added your special touch to the envelope pouch, seal it up with some tape and start decorating.
Common red envelope designs include gold paint and glitter, Chinese symbols for fortune and luck, or other significant symbols of the New Year such as the animal Zodiac.
Try out some of these beautiful Chinese New Year crafts at home and learn more about the history and traditions of Chinese New Year by taking our Chinese New Year Quiz!
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Stephanie is a mom living in the Chicago area with over 10 years’ experience in journalistic writing, editing, content management, photography, and graphic design.