Lunar New Year Family Zone

A photograph of a lunar new year dragon

Join SAAM and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States online to ring in the Lunar New Year!

Lunar New Year is a celebration of the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year on the lunisolar calendar. It is celebrated around the world and is a time to cherish loved ones both near and far. This year SAAM is highlighting the Chinese traditions and celebration of the Year of the Tiger. Enjoy a variety of family-friendly activities you can complete at home and with your family and friends. From hands-on craft activities and festive coloring pages featuring artworks from SAAM's collection to a variety of live virtual programs and videos, there is fun for the whole family. Show us your creativity! Please share a picture of your completed creations by using #SAAMFamilyZone on social media.

Enjoy even more Lunar New Year activities with our Smithsonian partners, the National Museum of Asian Art.  

We look forward to celebrating the new year with you and your loved ones online!


This program is presented in partnership with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States of America and part of Lunar New Year DC, organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  


Tiger Mask

Tiger mask made out of a paper plate

Supplies needed:

  • Paper plate 
  • Orange construction paper 
  • Black construction paper 
  • Orange paint 
  • Black marker 
  • Glue 
  • Scissors 
  • Popsicle stick (optional) 


– Paint the entire bottom of the paper plate orange. 

– Cut two triangles out of the orange construction paper for the ears. Then use the black marker to color a thick strip on the outside edge of the ears.  

– Poke a pencil or pen through the spots on the plate where you want the eye holes to be. Then use scissors to make these holes big enough to look through. 

– Using the black marker, draw the tiger’s nose, mouth, and whiskers. 

– For the tiger's stripes, cut out thin triangles from the black construction paper. Make as many as you’d like. 

– Glue the triangle stripes around the edge of the plate, with the pointy ends facing inward. 

– Take the two ear pieces and space them apart on the edge of the plate, then glue them into place. 

– Glue the popsicle stick to the bottom of the mask for a handle. 

– Try on your mask and let out a roar to celebrate the new year! 

Vietnamese Peach Blossoms

a peach blossom made out of tissue paper

Supplies needed: 

  • 3 sheets of pink tissue paper, 12”x 6” or larger 
  • Green chenille stem 
  • Scissors 
  • Stack the three sheets of tissue paper. 


– Turn the papers towards yourself portrait-style and make a one-inch fold in the short edge in front of you.  

– Flip the stack over and fold the paper back onto itself. Then flip the stack over again and make another fold. 

– Continue folding back and forth until you have an accordion-like thin strip of paper. 

– Using your scissors, round the edges of the strip by trimming off the corners at both ends. 

– Place the chenille stem at the center of the strip of paper and loop it around the stack. Twist the chenille stem on itself to hold in place. 

– Very gently spread apart the paper folds at both ends. Then, gently separate the sheets from each other. Fluff the petals to create a fuller flower. 

– Create as many flowers as you would like and arrange them into a beautiful bouquet. Voila! 


Korean Sogo Drum

a drum made out of a paper plate

Supplies needed: 

  • 2 paper bowls 
  • 2 chopsticks 
  • Ribbons of any color 
  • Red, yellow, and blue markers (optional) 
  • Stapler 


– Using the markers, decorate the bottom of one (or both) of the paper plates with the traditional Korean symbol of the tricolor taegeuk. (Or come up with a design of your own!) 

– Put the rims of the bowls together and staple around the edge.  Leave a small opening at the top and bottom. 

– Take one of the chopsticks and insert the narrow end into the opening at the bottom of the bowls. Staple around the chopstick to keep it in place. 

– Insert a few ribbons into the opening at the top of the bowls, and staple into place.  

– Use the other chopstick as a drumstick to tap out a joyful Lunar New Year beat! 

Paper Prosperity Lantern

a paper lantern

Supplies needed:

  • 1 sheet of red construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick


- Turn your construction paper so it lays horizontally (long side toward you) in front of you.
- Cut off a 1-inch wide strip from one of the short ends and set it aside.
- Fold the remaining large sheet of paper in half from short end to short end, crease well.
- Cut 1-inch strips on the crease toward the open end, but stop 1 inch before the end. Do not cut off any strips of paper, but leave it all connected.
- When you are finished cutting, open the paper up and glue the long ends together.
- Glue the strip you cut to the top as a handle.
- Hang your lantern.

Indoor Fireworks

decorative fireworks made from toilet paper roles

Supplies needed:

  • Toilet paper roll
  • Red or yellow paint
  • Chenille stems or pipe cleaners
  • Tape
  • Glitter stickers or glitter and glue (optional)


- Paint the toilet paper roll red or yellow. (These are good luck colors for the Chinese New Year)
- Add glitter decorations to the roll (if desired).
- Fold the chenille stems in half and tape to the inner upper half of the toilet roll.
- Enjoy your firework display!

A photograph of a paper bag that looks like an ox.


Supplies needed:

  • Paper bag
  • White and brown construction paper
  • Markers
  • Glue


- Cut two ears, two arms, one mouth, an oval for the tummy, and a tail out of the brown construction paper.
- Cut two horns and two eyes out of the white construction paper.
- Using a black marker, color hooves on the end of the arms and pupils in the eyes.
- Glue the stomach to the center bottom of the paper bag.
- Glue the arms and tail to the back of the paper bag.
- Cut the mouth paper in half. Glue the top part to the fold at the “mouth” of the bag. Glue the other half just underneath the main part of the bag. Do not glue the paper bag to itself.
- Draw nostrils and a mouth on this paper. Add a red tongue.
- Glue the eyes just above the mouth.
- Glue the ears to the back of the paper bag and the horns to the front of the paper bag just above the ears.
- Make your ox a friend and put on a puppet show!


Enjoy coloring pages featuring artworks from SAAM’s collection and traditional Chinese symbols of the Lunar New Year. 

The Skating Tiger

2022 is the Year of the Tiger. This zodiac animal is considered vigorous and courageous. The Lunar New Year is also a time for ice and snow in many regions of China and the United States. Join the tiger to have fun and experience winter sports together!

The Mighty Big Cat

In many tiger-themed art works in traditional Chinese culture, there is a “王” pattern on the tiger’s forehead, which is a Chinese character meaning “the King”. In ancient China, the tiger was a symbol of absolute power and a guardian that drove away evil spirits.

Girl with a Tiger Hat

Tiger, the ancient tutelary deity in traditional Chinese culture, is believed to be able to protect children from diseases. The Tiger Hat (虎头帽) is one of the symbolic accessories in Chinese folk costumes for kids, commonly worn during the Spring Festival.

The Eaves Tile with White Tiger Pattern

Eaves tiles are accessories from classical Chinese architecture fixed at the end of rafters for decoration and for shielding eaves from wind and rain. The White Tiger is one of the four deities, the other three being green dragon, rosefinch, and black tortoise. The Eaves Tile with White Tiger Pattern (陶白虎纹瓦当) is now part of The Palace Museum collection in Beijing, China.

2021 is the Year of Ox. In Chinese tradition, there are 12 zodiac signs represented each by an animal: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. The cycle repeats itself every 12 years. Oxen are considered reliable and diligent in Chinese traditional culture. February 12th, 2021, marks the beginning of the Year of Ox.

Head of a Lion Dance Costume
Chinese Lion Dance dates back to Tang Dynasty. It is a combination of art, history, and Kung Fu. Lion dances are often performed during the Chinese Lunar New Year to chase away ghosts and evil spirits. The Lion Dance is performed by two dancers in a lion costume, one manipulating the lion’s head while the other manipulating the lion's body.

Qilin is a mythical creature in Chinese and other East Asian cultures. The name is a combination of the two characters Qi “male,” and lin, “female.” Traditionally its appearance coincides with the birth or death of a sage or illustrious ruler. Today, Qilin is revered as a lucky omen, a powerful guardian, and a popular source of inspiration for ritual dances. Because they are associated with heaven, and the gods, dancers who mimic Qilin can bring great prosperity to their communities.

Dragon King of the East Sea
Dragon King of the East Sea is a mythical character in Chinese culture, also named Ao Guang. He is the most prestigious divine ruler of the ocean among four major dragon kings. He has the ability to transform to human shape and lives in an underwater crystal palace. He has his own royal court and commands an army comprising various marine creatures. He can also manipulate the weather and bring rainfall. 

Performance Videos

Cuju - This song is inspired by the game cuju, an ancient Chinese game considered to be one of the earliest forms of soccer. Like in soccer, players move the ball with their feet toward a net and may not use their hands.

Bejing Opera - Bejing Opera is a particular style of Chinese Opera. It is one of the most well-known styles. The vocal roles, tones, and movement are very specific. Watch and see how this style of opera is both similar to and different from the Western-style of opera.

Lion Dance – The Lion Dance is one of the most time-honored Chinese traditions for Lunar New Year. Learn more about the history and unique regional customs relating to the Lion Dance performance. This video is courtesy of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States.

Qilin Dance – Learn more about the mythical creature Qilin and the history and significance of the Qilin Dance performed during Lunar New Year as a symbol of peace, happiness, prosperity, and wealth. This video is courtesy of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States.

Legend of Nian – Celebrate Lunar New Year and learn more about the Chinese legend of the Nian, a mythical creature that has inspired New Year customs and traditions. This video is courtesy of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States.

Beijing Opera Movements - Follow the masters from DC Beauty of Beijing Opera and try the basic movements in Beijing Opera.

Tutorial Videos

Yang-Style Knot Tutorial – Learn more about the history and tradition of Yang-style Chinses knot tying. Then follow along during a step-by-step tutorial and create your own beautiful Lunar New Year adornment. This video is courtesy of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States.

Paper Cutting Tutorial – Learn more about traditional Chinese paper cutting. This celebrated folk handicraft is characterized by its strong creative force and rich cultural significance. Then follow along with step-by-step instructions and create your own intricate paper cut design to celebrate the Lunar New Year. This video is courtesy of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States.

Clay Tiger Model - Follow the tutorial of Dylan Zhang of the Epie Tech & Art Studio and make a clay tiger to celebrate the Lunar New Year! Share photos of your creation online and tag us! @americanart #atSAAM

Paper-cut Window Decoration - Make your own paper-cut New Year Window Decoration with Lucy Li, inheritor of the intangible cultural heritage of papercutting from Shanghai, China. Share photos of your creation online and tag us! @americanart #atSAAM