It is the time of the year again, the time for a festival well known for its bustling and lively ambience of reunion. Chinese New Year, a commonly celebrated festival in Malaysia is approaching and we certainly miss the firecrackers and lion dances at play. In this season that calls for flexibility and creativity when it comes to celebrations, many aspects of the festival will need to be compromised in regards to everyone’s health and safety. Though we may not be able to visit our friends and family, or have reunion dinner with all of our family members, there are still other ways to create the festive ambience and enjoy the annual festival!
In the hopes of enriching the new ways to celebrate Chinese New Year amidst the pandemic, we have compiled a series of Chinese New Year themed activities that you can carry out with your children at home. Other than keeping them occupied meaningfully, these stay-at-home activities also help to train motor skills, attention, engagement as well as creating opportunities to practice functional communications. Most importantly, you and your child can have fun creating memories whilst celebrating the festival with these activities!
Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts activities are a great way to develop and strengthen your child’s creativity and fine motor skills! It is also a great way to teach your child with autism how to play independently and occupy their time in a meaningful manner.
- 2 orange-coloured paper (the size of paper determines the size of your craft)
- Green-coloured paper
- Brown yarn (for hanging- you can use a different colour)
- Fold both orange papers back and forth to create an accordion.
- Stack both folded paper and stapler the middle. Fan out each side of the paper.
- Glue the sides of the paper together so it forms a circle. Leave one of the sides open to add the leaves.
- Cut 2 green leaf-shaped paper. Make sure they are identical.
- Paste each leaf to each of the opening of the fruit.
- Tie the brown yarn into a loop and glue one end of the loop on one of the leaves. Glue both leaves together to form a full circle.
- Fold the leaves down so it is more visible.
- Red paper
- Brown paper
- Gold paint
- Draw the outline of your kid’s hand on a brown paper and crumple the paper. This will be the “trunk” of the coin tree.
- Paint the tree trunk with gold paint and let it dry.
- Once dry, cut out the hand and paste it on the red paper.
- Paint the coins with gold paint and press it to the red paper.
- Repeat step 4 until your tree grows full of coins.
- Let it dry and it is ready to be hung!
- Red coloured paper
- Gold stickers, coloured pens, sparkly washi tape (for decoration)
- Chinese red envelope or banner (for the top part)
- Fold the paper into quarters and cut it along the crease so that you have 4 rectangles.
- Roll the paper into a tube. Use long ends to make it narrow or if you prefer a thicker firecracker, use the short end.
- Decorate the firecracker using the material you have. Have fun and let your kid get creative.
- Repeat step 2 and 3 until you have at least 3 firecrackers or more (depends on how you want the end result to look like)
- Cut ribbon into 3 inch strips. Tape each end of ribbon inside firecracker tubes. Repeat for each pair of firecrackers.
- Arrange firecrackers in desired shape. Cut long pieces of ribbon (a few inches longer than a group of firecrackers) and tie it to each pair of firecrackers.
- Tape the envelope or the banner at the top of the firecrackers.
Sensory Play Activities
Children use their five senses to explore and try to make sense of the world around them. It’s an important part of early childhood development, and providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through ‘sensory play’ is crucial to brain development.
4. DIY Fruits & Vegetables Yee Sang
Pear, cucumber, carrot, mango, tangerine, honey, lime (feel free to remove/replace with what you have-make it colourful!).
- Slice or shred the fruits and vegetables into long strips.
- Arrange them nicely in a huge tray- unleash your creativity here! You can arrange it into a shape or even an animal!
- Add lime juice and honey before tossing.
- Get hands-on with your child! Toss and mix the Yee Sang whilst reciting well wishes. The higher you toss, the better your luck!
- Enjoy the Yee Sang with your child!
- Uncooked Rice/ Spaghetti dyed in red food colouring
- Coins/ Chocolate gold coins
- Decorations like money packets/ red streamers (optional)
- Line a tray with rice dyed in red food colouring
- Hide coins under the rice for your child to pick out using their hands or with chopsticks for additional fine motor skills practice!
- Optional: Decorate the tray Chinese New Year-related items such as money packets, red streamers etc.
Besides art and craft, you can also make some tasty Chinese New Year snacks together with your child! Other than sharpening attention and motor skills, preparing snacks can also empower your child with autism with independent living skills. For children with autism that have food tolerance issues, this is also a fun way to engage and encourage them to try new foods!
- 175g milk chocolate
- 30g corn flakes
- (optional) 1 tbsp peanut butter
- (optional) colourful sugar beads/sprinkles for decoration
- Mini muffin cups
- Melt chocolate using a microwave/double boiler. Add peanut butter and mix.
- Let the mixture cool for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the corn flakes.
- Make sure all corn flakes are coated with the chocolate mixture.
- Scoop it into mini muffin cups, decorate with colourful sugar beads/sprinkle and let cool. Keep it in an air-tight container to retain its crispiness.
- 100g roasted unsalted peanuts or 100g chunky peanut butter
- 80g icing sugar
- 180g all-purpose flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 50g peanut oil (if using roasted peanuts)
- 1 egg yolk + 1 tsp water
- Preheat your oven to 350F (177C). Prepare the egg wash by mixing 1 egg yolk and 1tsp water.
- Grind the roasted peanuts until you get a fine texture; or; give the chunky peanut butter a good stir.
- Mix the ground peanut/peanut butter together with sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.
- Add in the peanut oil gradually (you may not need all of it) and stir the mixture until it comes together and forms a dough that wouldn’t fall apart.
- Dust your hands with a bit of flour and shape the dough into balls. Line them on a baking sheet and style it any way you desire (you can make an indentation using a straw, or a crisscross pattern using a fork).
- Brush the cookies with the egg wash and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool and store it in an air-tight container.
- 500g Florentine Mix
- 500g Pumpkin Seeds
- 250g Almond Slices
- 250g Nuts/Seeds of your choice
- Line your baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
- Mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl.
- Spread a thin layer of mixture onto the baking sheet evenly.
- Bake at 190°C for 9 minutes or until the mixture turns golden brown.
- Cut the brittle into desired shapes right after taking it out from the oven. The brittle shatters easily once it cools.
- Store in an air-tight container once cooled.
9. Song Time
Songs are a great way to engage with your child with autism! Below are some Chinese New Year songs that you can sing along with your child.
- I Like Chinese New Year
- Happy New Year! (新年好!) | Holidays | Chinese song | By Little Fox
- Gong Xi Gong Xi 恭喜发财 – | Happy Chinese New Year – Songs for Kids | Hogie the Globehopper
10. Dress Up and Enjoy the Festive Celebration!
While we may not be able to enjoy the lion dance performances or fireworks/ firecrackers this year due to the MCO restrictions, other areas that parents may want their children with autism to be able to participate include:
- Wearing Chinese New Year outfit
- Joining the family for reunion dinner
- Greeting the elders
- Receiving ang pows (and practising the proper etiquette)
With that, we have a few tips that can help! Check out our previous blog article on Preparing Your Child For A Successful Chinese New Year Celebration. We also have a short video clip on how to prepare your child for a successful Chinese New Year reunion dinner!
In efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic, we would like to urge everyone to continue staying at home and refrain visitations in this festive season. Please also make sure to practice all the recommended safety measures, i.e. wear your mask if you’re heading out, wash your hands frequently, and make sure to stay away from crowded places. For more tips and strategies to support your child with autism in this MCO period, please check out our previous blog entry on Coping with MCO 2.0. Stay tuned for more tips, resources and activities!
May this new year bring immense strength, health, luck and prosperity to you and your family. Happy Chinese New Year from all of us at EAP! Gong Xi Fa Cai!
- Hanging Citrus Fruit Paper Craft for Kids: https://buggyandbuddy.com/hanging-citrus-fruit-craft-based-book-orange-january/
- Chinese Coin Tree: https://www.firstpalette.com/craft/chinese-coin-tree.html
- How to Make Chinese Firecrackers Craft for Lunar New Year: https://chalkacademy.com/make-chinese-firecrackers-crafts/
- Chinese New Year Rice Sensory Play: https://www.learningandexploringthroughplay.com/2018/02/chinese-new-year-rice-sensory-play.html
- Chinese New Year Chocolate Cornflakes Clusters (No Bake): https://whattocooktoday.com/chinese-new-year-chocolate-cornflakes-clusters-no-bake.html
- Melt-in-the-mouth Chinese Peanut Cookies (Kue Kacang Skippy): https://whattocooktoday.com/chinese-new-year-peanut-butter-cookies-kue-skippy.html
- Florentine: https://www.bakewithyen.my/florentine/
- Happy Chinese New Year Compilation l Nursery Rhymes & Kids Songs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rjc5PHF3fHg
- Happy New Year! (新年好!) | Holidays | Chinese song | By Little Fox: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM_QSDCjHKY
- Gong Xi Gong Xi 恭喜发财 – | Happy Chinese New Year – Songs for Kids | Hogie the Globehopper: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pHsusXeR_8