In this post, I’m going to show you the best ways to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival with your kids.
And the best thing is you don’t need to live close to a Chinatown or know Chinese. Anyone can celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival and learn a little Chinese history.
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Table of Contents
In addition to the Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival is another big traditional festival that the Chinese celebrate.
The Chinese believe that summer comes after this festival, and the highlights of the festival are the dragon boat races. I especially love that this festival is based on several real, historical stories and not a myth.
Our Experience with the Dragon Boat Festival
Since the Dragon Boat Festival is one of the most important festivals that counts as a public holiday in Hong Kong, I want to take advantage of that and introduce it to my kids while we were in Hong Kong.
We were fortunate to live close by one of the Dragon Boat Race rivers, so of course, we were taking our kids to watch the race.
You will see all the photos that we took in the Dragon Boat Race in 2018. We even got to met a celebrity as well.
My kids loved the environment with the sound of drums, people cheering, and of course the race.
After watching the Dragon Boat Race, we went home and had our homemade rice dumplings for lunch before nap.
A lot of families will go for a “Dragon Boat” swim, but we couldn’t. With four young children, we all had no strength, but rather spend the holiday at home.
How about you? Have you watched any Dragon Boat Race before? What’s your experienced at this festival?
What is the Dragon Boat Festival?
The True Story
A long time ago, in the ancient state of Chu during the Warring States period of the Zhou Dynasty of China (c. 340–278 BC), there was a famous poet and a royal minister who loved his country.
His name was Qu Yuan 屈原(qū yuán/ wat1 jyun4).
During his ministry, the king decided not to listen to Qu Yuan and to trust and ally himself with the opposing force.
As a result, Qu Yuan was exiled from his own country. At the end, when Qu Yuan heard about the attack on his country and the death of the king, he was so heartbroken that he committed suicide by drowning himself in a river.
After the news of Qu Yuan’s death was spread, the local people who admired Qu Yan so much wanted to retrieve his body by boat. They also made sticky rice balls and dropped them in the river, so the fish would eat the rice balls and not Qu Yuan’s body. They also played drums to scare the fish away.
While this is a sad, patriotic story from ancient China, the cultural importance was so great that it became a Chinese festival that is celebrated every year because it represents several values: honor, loyalty, dragon, food, and honoring the dead.
10 Best Ways to Celebrate Dragon Boat Festival with Your Kids
Now that I am a homeschooling mom, I want to introduce the dragon boat races, the rice dumplings, and the moving story of Qu Yuan to my own kids.
I created a 5-day Dragon Boat Festival Lesson Plan for my kids and I want to share it with you too. I hope we can all teach and immerse the Chinese culture at our home.
So I have included some of the activities from the 5-day Dragon Boat Festival Lesson Plan in the following activities.
Hope you will enjoy it.
1. Build a dragon boat
- DIY Chinese Dragon Boat Activity for Kids (Little Passports)
- Dragon Boat (Freekidscrafts.com)
- Making a Baking Soda Vinegar Powered Steam Dragon Boat
3. Read stories and Play Game about the Dragon Boat Festival
You can get these the Dragon Boat Festival Chinese Boardgame from my 5-Day Lesson Plan.
4. Work on Dragon Boat Festival printables
You can easily find printables and worksheets for the Chinese New Year, but not many for the Dragon Boat Festival.
That’s why I created the Dragon Boat Festival Theme Packs (Age 3-7) and Chinese Children Books: Dragon Boat Festival Vocab & Mini-book that go along with this pack.
If you like the theme packs idea, here is a blog post for you to look into even more of how I teach my kids Chinese with the theme-based approach.
5. Make crafts or painting of dragon boats
- Chinese Art & Crafts: Origami Paper Rice Dumplings
- Dragon Boat Festival 端午节 duānwǔjié from Mandarin for Me
6. Make and Eat Rice Dumplings (Zongzi)
- Here is a step-by-step blog post on how to make Cantonese-style rice dumplings with kids with a FREE recipe to download.
7. Play the standing-the-eggs-at-noon game
- Chinese Culture Adventure: Dragon Boat Festival – Duān Wǔ Jié 端午節(Miss Panda Chinese)
8. Watch a real dragon boat race
9. Learn Songs about the Dragon Boat Festival
10. Watch Videos to Learn more About the Dragon Boat Festival
Do you have any other suggestions for this list?
Which activities work best for you and your family?
Bonus: 5-Day Lesson Plan
I have created a 5-Day Lesson Plan for this traditional festival, and I would like to share it with you.
You are Going to Get:
- 20+ pages of Chinese & English printable & resources
- 2 Children Chinese Books: Dragon Boat Festival
- Supportive Facebook Community
Let Hear What Others Say
He was very interested in making the boat and learning more about the holiday. So yes it helped add to his motivation and also gave him a break from his regular Chinese studies.
我其實原本不曉得要安排什麼活動來讓端午節能更有趣。小朋友變得願意主動學習，我省時間不用煩惱要安排什麼，照著schedule安排就可以! 小朋友對端午節更了解，同時也利用玩中學到一些其它生活技能，科學物理方面基本知識 。很感謝有這樣”聚集”大家的平台，每天看到別的家庭也做活動的時候對我們也是很大的鼓勵。 有時候一忙可能忘記，但看到別人也做了就會想盡辦法也安排時間做。 真的做了的時候發現其實並不像想像的困難，而且開始->善後的時間沒想像要花的多。 同時家長孩子都享受到親子共讀共學一起做的快樂。感謝你 Fortune Cookie Mom 所有努力。謝謝!
It was a fun change of pace and helped to reignite my kids’ desire to learn Chinese. The dragons were so fun for my boys. The hands-on activities were very engaging. We are very grateful we found it.
I am a homeschool mom of three little kids. We are not Chinese and do not speak any Chinese. With the help of Fortune Cookie Mom, we are slowly learning! This lesson plan has given me fun activities to do at home with the kids. Each one has reignited my kid’s interest in learning. It has been a fun experience for everybody!
You Might be Interested:
Chinese Cultural Activities with Your Kids
- 5-Day Dragon Boat Festival Lesson Plan
- Chinese Art & Crafts: Origami Paper Rice Dumplings
- The Best Chinese New Year Traditions and Activities to Do with Kids
- Easy Chinese New Year’s Rounded Lanterns to Make with Your Kids
- Sweet Rice Dumplings for Chinese Lantern Festival
- 100+ Chinese New Year Activities for Kids to Gain Cultural Experiences
All about Homeschooling/ Teaching Chinese
- How to Start Teaching Chinese at Home
- How to Write a Year-Long Bilingual Homeschooling Plan
- 10 Tips from the Experienced Bilingual Moms
- How to Create a Language Rich Environment to Learn Chinese at Home
- How I Motivate my Children Reading in Cantonese and English
- Writing Chinese Characters: 10 Tips for Teaching Young Children How to Write Chinese Characters
You Are Not Doing it Alone
Join my Facebook support group to meet and get connections with parents and educators with the same goals.
身为职业妈妈的我,常常牺牲睡眠来自作教材。版主全方位学习的新年教材真让我省下不少宝贵的时间找资料。四岁的女儿对中文学习有点抗拒。我们善用版主提供的迷你故事书和生字卡来增强她对语文的认识。版主的中文单词棋盘游戏更让女儿投入学习, 因为她想赢嘛！版主的教材可让小孩边玩边学, 太棒了。
This is the second 5-Day Challenge that we have done with Fortune Cookie Mom. Both have been very beneficial to our family. I am a homeschool mom of three little kids. We are not Chinese and do not speak any Chinese. With the help of Fortune Cookie Mom, we are slowly learning! The challenges have given me fun activities to do at home with the kids. Each one has reignited my kid's interest in learning. It has been a fun experience for everybody!