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Chinese New Year

“Gong hei fat choi!” is a greeting often used in Cantonese to wish somebody a Happy New Year. It can be translated to mean “Congratulations and be prosperous!”

Popular activities for Chinese New Year include putting up lanterns, eating reunion dinners full of auspicious food (said to bring luck and blessings), setting off firecrackers and fireworks and giving red envelopes.

Lion and Dragon dances are a special part of New Year parades, said to represent wisdom, power, strength and good fortune, chasing away evil spirits and bringing good luck into the New Year.

Interesting facts about Chinese New Year

  • Each New Year is named after one of 12 zodiac animals: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. 2023 was the Year of the Rabbit and 2024 will be the Year of the Dragon!
  • During Chinese New Year, families clean their homes thoroughly, enjoy special food, buy new clothes, give gifts, take part in street parades and make lanterns.
  • Fortune cookies are not traditionally Chinese, although their well-wishes, luck and blessings are deeply embedded in the cultural celebrations.

Activities for children with vision impairment

Chinese New Year is a time for families to come together. Here are some activities and ideas for children with vision impairment to take part in with the whole family.

Papercraft Fortune Cookies

Making paper fortune cookies is really easy –a quick search on YouTube will help you find simple tutorials to follow.

To make the giving of fortune cookies truly meaningful for children with vision impairment, ensure your message is written in a format they can read.

Once completed, you could give one to a friend or a family member and say “Gong Hei Fat Choy!”

Thinking of positive fortunes is a great activity to do together as a family, but if you need a little bit of inspiration, here are some that families prepared for one of our Shape and Share events:

  • You are loved.
  • You hold the key to your own future.
  • Be the rainbow in someone else's cloud.
  • You are gifted in many ways.
  • Always believe something extraordinary is about to happen.
  • You are capable of anything.
  • You don’t need to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

Chopstick Race

Each person will need one pair of chopsticks, two plates and a dozen sweets. Sweets that are squidgy (like gummy sweets or marshmallows) are easier to pick up with chopsticks than flat or hard ones (like chocolate buttons).

The idea of this game is to use your chopsticks to move all the sweets from one plate onto the other - you can pick the rewards (and penalties!) for fastest and slowest finishers.

Using chopsticks takes practice and is a great way to build dexterity. Allow children to use their free hand to find the plates and locate the sweets if needed.

Chinese Lanterns

The Lantern Festival traditionally marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

How to make your own lantern

You will need:

  • A sheet of A4 paper or thin card – red or yellow are traditional colours but choose one that appeals to your child.
  • Scissors, glue, stapler or tape.
  • A range of decorations – see below.


Cut a 2cm strip off the shortest side of the paper and put to one side. This will be used for the handle.

Fold your large rectangle of paper or card in half lengthwise.

Draw or mark a horizontal line one inch from the long edge opposite the fold. (This line represents the point at which you need to stop cutting in the next step. A child with vision impairment may need a physical marker - eg Wikki Stix - or verbal directions to help them know when to stop.)

Starting from the folded edge, cut up towards the line. Make your first cut at around 2cm from one short edge – remember to stop when you reach the horizontal line or marker.

Continue to cut more straight lines, about 2.5cm apart, until you reach the opposite short edge of the paper.

Next, unfold the paper. It will have several vertical slits along the middle.

Flatten your paper and decorate the top and bottom edge using whatever you have available.

Here are some sensory ideas you can try:

  • Add scent or texture to paint: try using sand, corn-starch or oats to give the different colours their own, distinguishable texture. Or add fragrance with a few small drops of essential oil.
  • Create patterns and details with scented markers, glitter glue, puffy paint or coloured markers.
  • Use glue or self-adhesive stickers to add tactile shapes, beads, sequins or small buttons.
  • Use a marker pen, raised stickers or bump-ons to write words in large lettering or a representation of braille.

Next, transform the paper into a lantern by forming it into a tube shape. Overlap the long edges by at least 1cm before stapling or taping together.

Finally, take the paper handle that you previously set aside and glue the ends to the inside of the lantern's top edge. If you're feeling extra creative, you can decorate the handle too!

Once the glue and paint dries, hang the paper lantern as a festive Chinese New Year decoration and enjoy the celebrations!

(Remember that small parts can present a choking hazard and some children will need to be supervised when completing these activities.)

We would love parents and carers to share their thoughts and feedback on these activities via our Parents and Carers Facebook Group. Let us know your family's favourite traditions and how you celebrate!

If you would like to see a particular celebration included here, email us.