Chinese New Year is fast approaching (12th February!) and it’s an opportunity to bring some Chinese culture to your classroom. According to Chinese astrology, the year a person is born is represented by one of twelve Zodiac animals:
2021 marks the year of the ox.

So you and your class can learn more about the 12 animals and how they were chosen, we’ve created a bundle of language learning resources in Chinese, French, Spanish, German, EAL, Indonesian, Japanese and Māori – check them out below.

For more multilingual fun, head to the Languagenut platform to access games and resources in 21 modern foreign languages.

1) Chinese Zodiac Animals Flashcards
Although they may not seem that fun at first, flashcards are a great way to introduce your class to new vocabulary. There are many games you can play from memory challenges to matching pairs! Two of our favourite games include The Name Game and a new take on the old classic, Musical Chairs. The Name Games involves printing out pairs of each flashcard and attaching one to each of your students – whether by headband or safety-pinned to the backs of their jumpers – any way will be fine as long as they cannot view their own card. The aim of the game is for students to walk around the classroom asking questions to their classmates to try and figure out which animal they are and to then find their matching pair! To make things harder, your students can ask and answer the questions in their learning language. With regards to Musical Chairs, play some fun music and ask your students to run around the chairs – you can always ask them to hop like a rabbit or scurry like a mouse. When the music stops, one child will be left without a chair and will have to correctly translate one of the flashcards to stay in the game!
2) The Great Race Chinese Zodiac Story
Story time! Read your students The Great Race – the story behind how the Jade Emperor assigned the 12 zodiac animals. We’ve created two worksheets to go along with the story and they can be utilised in a variety of ways, from your students describing the animals in their learning language and then colouring in the animals following the key, to drawing and writing their own storyboards. Another fun activity involves using the flashcards with one given to each student. As you read the story they have to hold up the flashcard and shout out the animal translation in the language they’re learning.
3) Zodiac Animal Spinner
We’ve created a spinner wheel which can be used for an assortment of activities. Our favourite is the Miming Race – split your students into two teams with each team having their own spinner. A student from each team must run up to the front of the class and flick the arrow on the spinner, they then have to mime the animal and their team has to guess which animal it is in their learning language before the other team does. The first team to guess correctly wins!
4) Zodiac Animal Crossword
A great puzzle for your students to solve either individually or as a team. If your students need help, this exercise is another perfect opportunity for them to practice their dictionary skills.
We hope you and your class have a fantastic time celebrating Chinese New Year! Don’t forget we love to see what activities you get up to, so please share any photos with us on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

In the meantime, you can trial Languagenut with your class free for 30 days! The trial gives you access to songs, stories, time-saving lesson plans, and you can even create your own content. Your students can access a wide range of reading, writing, listening and speaking games – start your trial today!

How to say ‘Happy New Year’ in Chinese: