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Grade Level/Duration:

  • For Kindergarten- 2nd grade
  • Duration: 1-2 days

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand why we celebrate holidays, exemplified in Asia
  • Compare and contrast different Asian holidays with United States holidays
  • Analyze literature and activities to better understand holidays

For 2nd grade:

  • Grow to respect cultural differences
  • Explore historical figures and local artistic expressions for a holiday


Social Studies:

  • K.C.1; 1.H.1.2; 1.H.1.3; 1.C.1.1; 1.C.1.2; 2.C.1.1; 2.C.1.2; 2.C.1.3

Language Arts/Common Core:

  • CCR Anchor 6 and 7


Introduce students to this lesson by asking them to describe some of their favorite United States holidays. Assess for prior knowledge by asking why they celebrate holidays. Ask students about knowledge of holidays outside the United States, like Christmas in England. This will allow assessment of prior knowledge and misconceptions. Ask students to pick Asia out on a map or on a globe. Introduce how other countries celebrate holidays for the same reason United States does.


Day 1:

Start the activities by reading a book about Lunar New Year to introduce students to a holiday and why it is celebrated. One can read “Happy, Happy, New Year” by Demi for Chinese New Year or “Ten Mice for Tet!” by Shea and Weill on Vietnamese New Year. Analyze this book’s point of view and illustrations together. Discuss how it is different and similar to New Year’s in the United States. For example, Lunar New Year is much longer than the United States’ New Year, but there are special foods we eat for good luck on both holidays. Talk about different Lunar New Year festivals all around Asia and their traditions.  One can show pictures from the internet. Discuss about how some people may not celebrate New Year’s like we do but we still have to respect people despite cultural difference. Optional: This activity can also be done while students eat dumplings from a local Chinese restaurant or from the grocery store, such as on Lunar New Year. Try to find an authentic Chinese store and restaurant. 

Introduce Nadaam and why it is celebrated, information down below. Be sure to mention how this festival shows the beginning of festivals back in time in Mongolia, like weddings. Teachers can have a mini tournament with horse racing. One can make homemade horses either with its brooms or gift-wrapping sticks with paper head. Two volunteers can horserace around the room or outside. Optional: Have an archery contest either with it is a cheap bow and arrow from Dollar Tree or by throwing arrows as far as one can. 

Day 2:

Begin by asking students to recall what people did on Lunar New Year and Nadaam. Introduce Dragon Boat Festival in China and why it is celebrated, information below. One can read a book about Dragon Boat Festival, such as “Awakening the Dragon: The Dragon Boat Festival” by Arlene Chan. Together student’s can analyze the text, point of view, and illustrations to compare and contrast it to United States. One can watch YouTube clips from China or Taiwan and the boat races in Cary, NC. For 2nd graders, introduce the historical figure Qu Yuan. Compare and contrast him to George Washington and President’s Day. For example, both men love their country and wrote many articles about patriotism. However, Qu Yuan was banished while George Washington became president. Optional: This can also be done while students eat zongzi, sticky rice dumplings, or Ssian candy similar to during Dragon Boat Festival.

Introduce Children’s Day and Teacher’s Day and why they are celebrated, information down below. Compare and contrast it to Mother’s and Father’s Day. All four holidays take time to celebrate children, teachers, mothers, or fathers. All holidays allow for gifts and recognition for that specific group on that day. Talk about how this holiday is similar and different in other Asian countries by showing pictures on the internet.   Show  koinobori in Japan through YouTube or pictures. Introduce your koinobori that kids will make with you.


Introduce Lantern Festival, information down below. One can choose to show the YouTube clip attached below, have homemade or store bought lanterns, or make lanterns together as a class. Optional: One can order tangyuan, sticky rice balls, to show traditional foods on Lantern Festival. At the end, talk about how this festival is similar and different from Hannakuh. Both are light festivals dedicated to a religion. Hanukkah celebrates how God provided light during persecution. The lantern festival celebrates the emperor asking all citizens to light lanterns to respect Buddha.



Ask your librarian about books on Lunar New Year and the Dragon Boat Festival.

Lunar New Year in China– Information on Lunar New Year in China

Lunar New Year in Vietnam– Information on Lunar New Year in Vietnam

Lunar New Year in Korea– Information on Lunar New Year in Korea

Nadaam– Information on Nadaam

Dragon Boat Festival in China– Information on Dragon Boat Festival in China

Dragon Boat festival in North Carolina– More information on the past festivals and upcoming festival

Qu Yuan– Information on the scholar. Warning: his story involves suicide.

Children’s Day in Japan– Information on Japanese Children’s Day and making koinboro

Children’s Day in Korea– Information on Korean Children’s Day with other activities

Children’s Day in Thailand– Information on Thai Children’s Day with personal stories

Teacher’s Day in Taiwan– Information on Taiwanese Teacher’s Day

Koinobori– Another koinobori activity by a 1st grade teacher

Two sticks with paper horse heads- gift wrapping sticks or brooms

Dumplings (optional)

Zongzi (optional)

“Ten Mice for Tet!” by Shea and Weill

“Happy, Happy, New Year” by Demi

“Awakening the Dragon: The Dragon Boat Festival” by Arlene Chan

Lantern Festival– Information on Lantern Festival in China