With all the excitement of Christmas behind us, January can feel a little bit dry. Why not take the opportunity to explore other cultural holidays within your setting?

Chinese New Year or ‘Spring Festival’ is China’s most important festival. The dates change every year because the festival is based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar which is associated with the movement of the moon.

Celebrate the occasion with this tuff tray activity. It will provide your little learners with a hands-on sensory experience where they can explore and learn about Chinese New Year and its cultural impact by using the sights, feels and traditions commonly associated with the event. It’s also a great opportunity to develop fine motor skills, whilst playing imaginatively and learning about new things. 

What you’ll need:

Chopsticks are perfect to spark discussions on different cultural norms while developing fine motor skills as children attempt to pick up rice and other objects. You could even encourage mark making in the rice/tissue paper with their fingers or the chopsticks. The bowl and spoon also allows younger children to explore measurements and movement whilst having fun.

When you’re done with the tuff tray, just add the Chinese collection to your role play area for even more fun, open-ended play.

The Spring Festival can last up to 15 days, so you have plenty of time to explore different activities. Here are a few extra ideas you can try:


2020 marks the year of the rat, try finding out together what this means. Take a chance to go around finding out what everyone’s animal sign is and discuss the characteristics they might share with their animal.


There are lots of great books to introduce your setting to Chinese New Year customs. Dragon Dance by Joan Holub is a great choice if you’re struggling with what to pick.

Exploring the world

Food is an important part of Chinese culture. Try introducing a variety of new foods for your setting to try, including Chinese dumplings, spring rolls and pomeloes but always bear in mind allergies.

Physical development

We’re going on a monster hunt! Prepare some obstacles and rally your troops, it’s time to vanquish the legendary monster “Nian”.