The Chinese dragon

[Episode 14 | 1878 : Henry]

The local population brings in the Chinese New Year with traditional celebrations. Henry and Franklin contribute to the proceedings by launching their lanterns.


The Australian curriculum: History

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The Australian Curriculum: History aims to ensure that students develop: 

  • interest in, and enjoyment of, historical study for lifelong learning and work, including their capacity and willingness to be informed and active citizens 
  • knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the past and the forces that shape societies, including Australian society 
  • understanding and use of historical concepts, such as evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy, significance and contestability 
  • capacity to undertake historical inquiry, including skills in the analysis and use of sources, and in explanation and communication.

History activities [2]

Activity 1: New Year's Day traditions
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Subtheme(s): Celebrations; Customs and traditions; Multiculturalism

Chinese migrants brought their own culture and traditions to Australia during the 19th century. One important ceremony was, and still is, the celebration of the Chinese New Year.

  • Different cultures celebrate the new year in different ways. Ask students how their family celebrates New Year's Day. Look at the different cultural composition of the class and concentrate on the traditions that the children are familiar with first. 
  • In pairs, ask students to select another culture and investigate how and when the new year is celebrated in that culture. Ask students the following questions:
  1. When do they celebrate the change of year?
  2. Do they have special foods to celebrate?
  3. What other activities are involved in celebrating the new year?
  • The following websites may be useful:
  1. Chinese New Year,
  2. Wikipedia, 'New Year',
  • Ask students to investigate why the dates for Chinese New Year are always changing.
  • As an extension activity, students could research the calendars used by the ancient cultures of Egypt, China and South America.

  • Divide the class into small groups and allocate a country to each group. Students are to research how each country celebrates the new year. They can present their findings to the class as a slideshow presentation or an interactive presentation.


Activity 2: Chinese New Year
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Subtheme(s): Celebrations; Customs and traditions; Multiculturalism

Cultural symbols are powerful ways people come together and share their identity. In traditional Chinese culture, dragons are used to frighten away evil spirits in the New Year celebrations.

  • As a class, view the clip, The Chinese dragon, and discuss the importance of the dragon in Chinese festivals. Discuss the idea of symbolism and how symbols are used to share traditional meaning.
  • Ask students to consider what the dragon represents in this clip. Discuss the dragon as a symbol of positive hope triumphing over fears for the future.
  • Ask students to research and list the 12 Chinese New Year animals from the Chinese calendar. Ask students to develop a profile of their family members, particularly the year they were born and which Chinese New Year animal they were born under.
  • The following websites may be useful:
  1. Asia Education Foundation, Asia-related literary texts to support the Australian Curriculum for English, year 2,
  2. ——,Now more than ever we live in one world, Key curriculum areas: Visual Arts,
  3. Chinese Museum,

  • Each student cuts out and decorates a section of the dragon using the template in Student Activity Sheet H14.8: Chinese New Year. Students illustrate each section with words and pictures of their hopes and issues they think are important for the future. Every student creates a link in the dragon. When complete, the dragon will stretch around a classroom or along a corridor. Groups of students can be selected to make the dragon's head and tail.


Student Activity Sheet H14.8: Chinese New Year

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