Getting Ready for the Chinese New Year with Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas

To get ready for the Chinese New Year, which starts January 31 in 2014, we are participating in a blog tour for the lively picture book Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim and illustrated by Grace Zong.


Goldy Luck isn’t enthusiastic about taking turnip cakes to the Chan family for the New Year. After all, things hadn’t been going that well for her the previous year and she just woke up. Things get even worse when she spills the turnip cakes on the Chan’s floor, is so hungry she eats their food without permission, and accidentally breaks their furniture. Will her bad luck ever end?

Author Natasha Yim has built her story on the familiar and comfortable tale of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” but has made it fresh by adding details of Chinese New Year traditions and a new ending that gently teaches children about responsibility and conflict resolution. I was not surprised to learn that Yim has training in counseling as well as English, because her expertise shows.

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas is delightful. After reading it, I was excited to come up with some ideas for activities to extend the book. I hope reading it encourages you to learn more about the Chinese New Year and Chinese traditions, too.

Craft and Activity Ideas Inspired by Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas and to Celebrate the Chinese New Year:

 1. Find the Chinese New Year’s items in the illustrations

With a copy of the book, can you spot these items/things traditionally associated with the Chinese New Year (in the illustrations)?

  • A red envelope
  • Peach or plum blossoms
  • Oranges
  • Red and gold decorations
  • A dancing lion
  • Lanterns
  • Chinese animal zodiac (not the one in the back)

Can you find any other items with symbolic meanings? Use the Author’s Note in the back matter for clues.



2. Make Congee

The type of porridge mentioned in the book, congee, is made of rice that has been boiled until soft. Often chicken broth or stock is added for a savory dish, but it can also be made using water and adding fruit or sweeteners when served.

A child-friendly congee can be made overnight in a slow-cooker.


  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 8 cups water

Have the child(ren) measure rice and water into slow-cooker (crock pot). Cook on low setting overnight, or eight to ten hours.


Allow to cool slightly and add ingredients you might add to a bowl of cooked oatmeal.


  • Sweeteners such as brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup, to taste
  • Fruit such as sliced apples, peaches, apricots, bananas, etc.
  • Small amounts of milk, soy milk or rice milk

Two out of three members of our household love this!

The Red Gingham has a chicken and corn congee made in a slow cooker more suitable for an evening meal.

3. Obtain and learn how to use chopsticks

Learning how to use chopsticks is a wonderful way for children to develop fine motor skills and hand strength. For example, Montessori programs often incorporate chopsticks in their lessons.

This video shows both the technique of using chopsticks and and some of the traditions surrounding their use. To add depth, the narrator speaks in Chinese as well as English.

Aren’t the “Hello Kitty” chopsticks cute?

Family Chic has a DIY Dinner Table Game using chopsticks and blocks that looks like a lot fun, and which could be adopted to an educational setting.

4. Make paper cut-outs

The Chinese have been making paper cut outs or paper carvings called Jianzhi for many centuries.


This video contains a tutorial on how to start some simple designs.


  • Colorful paper cut in a square
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Examples of Chinese Jianzhi (see for example my Pinterest board below)

Fold the paper into a triangle, and then cut shapes from it (basically like the traditional paper cut snowflake). Unfold and see the design. Great for teaching symmetry.

Display in a window for the Chinese New Year.

Want even more? Try:

Nonfiction children’s books about the Chinese New Year (from Monday’s post)

For more crafts, try my Chinese New Year Crafts Pinterest board.

Jeff at NC Teacher Stuff also has a review.

Be sure to see this guest post about how the book came to be.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Charlesbridge (January 7, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1580896529
ISBN-13: 978-1580896528

Disclosures: The book was provided electronically for review purposes by the publisher. I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.