Chinese New Year and Chinese Zodiac Writing and Reading Activities

Rated 4.75 out of 5, based on 11 reviews
11 Ratings
The ESL Nexus
Grade Levels
3rd - 6th
Formats Included
  • PDF
30 pages
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Here are 3 language arts tasks to introduce your students to Chinese New Year and the Chinese Zodiac, which you can use anytime you're teaching about China. There are 2 reading passages which are print-and-go activities and the writing activity requires only minimal preparation. A bonus poster of the animals of the Chinese Zodiac is also included in this resource. In 2023, Chinese New Year begins on January 22nd.

✓ Please Note:

* Many countries in Asia celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday and have their own names for it. This resource calls it "Chinese New Year" because I worked in China for 3 1/2 years and the materials are based on how the holiday is celebrated there.

* This product is included in a Big Bundle with 6 resources about China and is available HERE.

* It is also available in a small Culture Bundle of 2 resources, which you can find HERE.

* You can also find it in the Ancient & Modern China Reading & Writing Bundle, with 4 resources, available HERE.

What educators who have used this resource say about it:

♥ "Our class always celebrate the Chinese New Year. I particularly loved the sample writing levels in which I could guide the students towards better their writing skills when they wrote about their zodiac sign. It was a wonderful resource for teachers even with a rubric. This was the best purchase, hands down!" -- JoAnne H.

♥ "Excellent ESL resource!!! :) My student's loved the activities!" -- A Buyer.


What you get in this product:

★ A Table of Contents for easy reference (2 pages)

★ A Notes to the Teacher section with background information (2 pages)

★ A list of ELA Common Core standards addressed (1 page)

★ 1 8.5" x 11" poster showing all 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac (1 page)

★ An information text about the Chinese zodiac, with comprehension questions and an answer key (3 pages)

★ An information text about the Chinese New Year, with comprehension questions and an answer key (3 pages)

★ 3 differentiated model paragraphs for the opinion writing task (3 pages)

★ Student pages for an opinion writing task about the Chinese zodiac, including a blank lined page if more space for writing is needed (13 pages)

★ An evaluation rubric for the opinion writing task (1 page)

More Info:

Start teaching about China with the 2 reading passages in this resource:

* A short information text about the Chinese Zodiac that can be read aloud to students or which they can read themselves, depending on their reading level.

* A 3-paragraph information text about the Chinese New Year holiday.

Comprehension questions accompany each reading passage on a separate page and can used for discussion or as a writing task. Both texts include answer keys.

Then let your students practice opinion writing with the animals of the Chinese zodiac activity. For each of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, there is 1 page with a photo of the animal and a short description of the characteristics of people born during that animal year. Every page also lists the years that each animal rules so you can easily find what animal year your students were born in. The task for your students, which is given on all the pages, is to write a paragraph stating whether they agree or disagree that the characteristics accurately describe them. Three model paragraphs at different levels of writing are included as guides for students. A rubric is provided so you can easily assess their students' work.

The last part of this Chinese New Year product is an 8.5" x 11" poster that shows all 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. You can display it on a bulletin board, an interactive whiteboard or computer, or just use it as a cover page for these materials. The photos of the 12 animals were taken by me and come from an artifact I purchased in Xi'an, China, when I taught in China. The animals were created by a local artisan in a style of folk art from that region of China.

Although intended for upper elementary and younger middle school students who are English Language Learners and native English speakers, these reading and writing activities have also been used successfully with older students in 7th and 8th grade.

You can use this resource remotely in 2 ways:

a) When teaching synchronously or asynchronously online, display and/or read aloud the reading passages. Then display the comprehension questions and have students write/type the answers. Share answers with your class. Explain the writing task and display the model paragraphs. Send students the appropriate page for doing the opinion task and tell them what to do. Have students send you their completed paragraphs and use the rubric to assess them.

b) For students to do on their own: Photocopy all the student pages plus answer keys and send the material home. If you don’t want students to check the answers for the reading passages themselves, have them send their work back to you and you can correct it yourself. Have students send you their completed paragraphs and use the rubric to correct them.

As they say in Mandarin Chinese: Xin Nian Kuai Le -- Happy New Year!


You might also like these products about China:

Chinese New Year Word Search Puzzles about the Zodiac

China ABC Book with Facts & Photos about Chinese Culture, Geography, and History

Chinese Dynasties, Emperors & Philosophers: Charts, Task Cards & Puzzles

Chinese Zodiac Animals Clipart Based on Photographs

Chinese Zodiac Task Cards for Mechanics and Grammar

Or buy a small bundle with 2 China-themed resources each:

China Bundle: Culture (includes the Chinese Zodiac Clipart and C is for China products)

China Bundle: Writing (includes the Chinese New Year Writing Activities and ELA Task Cards products)

Or buy the big bundle with 6 China-themed resources:

China Big Bundle of Writing, Reading, Grammar, Wordsearch Activities & Clipart (includes the C is for China ABC Book, Chinese Zodiac Animals Clipart, Chinese New Year Writing and Reading Activities, Chinese New Year ELA Task Cards and Chinese New Year Word Search Puzzles products)


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Thank you and happy teaching!

Common Core Standards © Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved. Any claims of correlation or alignment to the CCSS Standards or WIDA ELD standards are solely those of The ESL Nexus and have not been evaluated or endorsed by the NGA. The ESL Nexus is the sole creator of this product and does not claim endorsement or association with the creators of the CCSS or WIDA standards.


Total Pages
30 pages
Answer Key
Included with rubric
Teaching Duration
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which ideas are logically grouped to support the writer’s purpose.
Provide logically ordered reasons that are supported by facts and details.
Link opinion and reasons using words, phrases, and clauses (e.g., consequently, specifically).
Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.
Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.


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