Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

Happy Lunar New Year! Whether this celebration is part of your family’s traditions or something you’d like your child to learn about, why not mark the occasion with fun activities that support early literacy at the same time?

Below, we walk you step-by-step through four easy activities to do with your young children. You’ll find crafts, simple alphabet- and writing-themed games, and picture book recommendations—even a storytelling puppet who helps kids develop the comprehension and oral language skills that underpin successful reading and writing. Just follow the links for full, illustrated instructions and more tips. Enjoy!

Create a Lunar New Year Fortune-Teller

In this literacy craft, telling fortunes for the new year creates the perfect opportunity to work on reading skills. Kids won’t even realize they’re practicing as they read the same sight words (or sound out the same longer words) over and over while telling their friends’ and family’s fortunes. This game even builds mindfulness, as kids share positive messages and concentrate on hopeful wishes for the future. Enjoy!

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Use the Chinese Zodiac to Teach Kids Letter Sounds

In this Lunar New Year story time activity, we’ll delve into the Chinese zodiac by reading Ruby’s Chinese New Year by Vickie Lee. Next, we’ll expand the story time with a playful early literacy activity designed to build letter-sound knowledge. Your child will learn to isolate the first sound of each animal’s name and match it to the correct letter.

Make a DIY Lion Puppet for Lunar New Year

In this story time activity, we explore Chinese traditions for the Lunar New Year. In traditional celebrations, a mythical Chinese lion dances in the new year to bring good luck and scare away the bad. Follow a simple tutorial to craft your own storytelling lion puppet that kids can use to retell a story you read together. Retelling helps deepen kids’ comprehension and support the oral language skills that underpin successful reading and writing. 

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Use Red Envelopes to Help Kids Practice Writing

Read Grace Lin’s Bringing in the New Year aloud to your child and then share a fun literacy-supporting activity with them. You’ll teach them how to read and write the names of loved ones as you create Lunar New Year envelopes for family members. It’s a great way to tie cultural traditions and literacy together in a fun and brain-building package.