How to teach children about the Dragon Boat Festival

teach children dragon boat festival

What is the Dragon Boat Festival?

The Dragon Boat Festival 端午节 is one of the four main festivals celebrated by the Chinese. 

It falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month 农历五月初五. The date was chosen as it was the day that patriotic Qu Yuan jumped into the river after learning of the defeat of his beloved Chu state. Not the happiest of story, but the reason why we celebrate it is because Qu Yuan was a well loved and respected adviser to the Chu King. The people did not want the fish to eat his body, and hence threw rice into the river to feed the fish. That is how we came to eat rice dumplings.

You can read more about the customs and back stories behind it on China Highlights

What else do we do for the Dragon Boat Festival?

Traditionally, Chinese people will eat rice dumplings 吃粽子, and also hang up Chinese Mugwort 挂艾草 , give little scented satchets to young children 戴香包, and of course hold dragon boat races 划龙舟. 

How to teach children about the Dragon Boat Festival

For my three children, we have been reading books about the Dragon Boat Festival in Chinese and English. There are also lots of fun crafts you can do with your children. We have made origami rice dumplings, origami boats, learnt how to draw funny rice dumplings.

For Da Bao and Er Bao, they have also been learning how to write related Chinese words, such as 端午节,龙舟,粽子. You can download the writing sheets on my Mandarin Homeschool freebie page

dragon boat writing
Dragon Boat Festival Writing Worksheets

Chinese Rhyme for Dragon Boat Festival

五月五,是端阳;

插艾叶,挂香囊;

五彩线,手腕绑;

吃粽子,沾白糖;

龙舟下水喜洋洋。

English Books to read about the Dragon Boat Festival

Amazon obviously stocks most of the following books listed below. Book Depository is also a fantastic site for English books, and they ship internationally.

If you are based in Australia like me, Dymocks, QBD books should have some of the titles listed. 

dragon boat festival wishes

Dragon Boat Festival Wishes: Duanwu (Double Fifth) & Zongzi Chinese Festival Celebration (Fun Festivals Book 3) 

Written by Jillian Lin

Illustrated by Shi Meng

ISBN: 9798650473770

The only bilingual book I have found so far on the topic, Dragon Boat Festival Wishes is told in English and Chinese.

peppa's dragon boat festival

Peppa Pig: Peppa’s Dragon Boat Festival

ISBN: 9780241369074

The ever-adorable Peppa Pig joins in the fun festivities of the Dragon Boat festival. Little ones will love this. 

one is a drummer

One Is a Drummer: A Book of Numbers

Written by Roseanne Thong

Illustrated by Grace Lin

ISBN: 9780811864824

Do you know that for every dragon boat, you need to have a drummer to guide the paddlers? Drum along to this book, as they race down the river on their boats.

Chinese Festivals

Chinese Festivals

Written by Wei Liming

ISBN: 9780521186599

Recommended for older Chinese readers. This book takes an in depth look into all the major Chinese festivals. 

*Top tip: Available to borrow on the Singapore National Library as an e-book.

Chinese Books to read about the Dragon Boat Festival

To purchase Chinese books, your top choices are JD.com, and Taobao. Read this post for a comprehensive list of Chinese booksellers.

If you are looking for Chinese e-books, please read this ultimate guide on the best Chinese e-booksellers, and Chinese book apps.

今天我们包粽子

林佩文 文,图

ISBN: 9789814791236

This is one out of 8 books in the Singapore Traditional Chinese Food series which we have really enjoyed reading. Read our full review here.

*Top tip: Available to borrow on the Singapore National Library as an e-book.

Also available to purchase on Google Play as an e-book.

端午节 立体翻翻书

端午节 立体翻翻书 3D book

呦呦童

ISBN: 9787533778897

A gorgeous pop up book about the Dragon Boat Festival. 100% kids approval.

伊伊,端午节快乐!

伊伊,端午节快乐!

丁丁 文,梁琨 图

ISBN: 9787505442603

Learn all about the Dragon Boat Festival with Yi Yi. There is even a step by step origami boat activity in the book. 

You can watch a reading of it on Youtube.

小艾的端午节

小艾的端午节

王轶美 文,张小瑜工作室 图

ISBN: 9787507221312

A little city girl, Xiao Ai, journeys back to her mother’s hometown for the Dragon Boat Festival, for a taste of the best dumpling in the world. A sentimental story about the love of a grandmother, against the backdrop of the festival.

You can watch a reading of it on Youtube

不是方的不是圆的

不是方的不是圆的

郑春华 文,林俊杰 图

ISBN: 9787545555004

What is not square, and not round? A rice dumpling of course! 

You can watch a reading of it on Youtube

端午粽米香

端午粽米香

保冬妮 文,洪涛、徐慧静 图

ISBN: 9787537972598

A sweet tale as a family in China gets ready for the Dragon Boat Festival. The traditional Chinese dress of the characters and the beautiful Chinese architecture is succinctly illustrated in this book.

You can watch a reading of it on Youtube

小粽子小粽子

小粽子,小粽子

卷儿 著

ISBN: 9787558325267

This book is beyond cute! Little dumplings gather on a a bridge. Some are sweet and some are savoury. They decided that they can’t be friends because of their flavour. Can they see past their differences to realise that they are essentially the same? 

You can watch a reading of it on Youtube

木兰赛龙舟

This one is for the Disney princess lover. Mulan decides that it would be fun for her village to join in the dragon boat race. Great idea! Except they have never done it  before. But hey, there is a first time for everything right?

We read this on the Kada Book App, a really awesome Chinese book app with tonnes of Chinese e-books. 

小小牛顿

小小牛顿幼儿馆 STEAM 竹笋长大了

The Little Newton Book series are perfect for children who likes factual information. They weave in the historical backdrop of the Dragon Boat Festival within the description of the bamboo growing.

We borrowed this book from the Singapore National Library as an e-book. 

Fun Crafts to do for the Dragon Boat Festival

dragon boat festival craft

Evidently, the Dragon Boat Festival is not as big as Chinese New Year, so you might not find as much teaching resources. Thankfully there are a few Mandarin Chinese bloggers who have created some really cool teaching materials for the Dragon Boat Festival.

First up is Fortune Cookie Mama, who has a 5 day Dragon Boat Festival Lesson Plan. Plus, she has listed out some fun teaching activities to try out with your children on her blog. 

Next, we have Lingo Buddies who has some seriously cute teaching worksheets in both Simplified and Traditional Chinese. Recommended for toddler aged Chinese learners.

Little Chinese Learners has free Dragon Boat Festival printables and online games. 

There are also many simple and cute Dragon Boat Crafts on YouTube. Here are some of the ones we have tried. 

You’ll have to download the printable from here. Make sure to enlarge the picture slightly while printing. 

I like to sneak in Chinese words in the activity whenever I can. Hence, I made a “端午节快乐” words for my children to colour and stick on. You can download the words here

Colouring Sheets for the Dragon Boat Festival

My children all love to colour, so I have also created a few Dragon Boat Festival colouring worksheets. To make it more fun, we had a colouring contest in the family. Whose do you think is the best?

Download the free Dragon Boat Festival colouring worksheets on our freebie page.

dragon boat festival colouring
Our Colouring Contest Submissions. Whose do you think is the best?

Videos about the Dragon Boat Festival

Narrated in English, this video is best for children whose first language is English. All the major Chinese vocabulary are shown with pinyin on screen. 

Ah Boy Eat Dumplings.

A Singaporean video of the Dragon Boat Festival. It touches on all the essential things you need to know about the festival. Additionally, it also explains how other Asian countries celebrate it.

The Tragic Story of Qu Yuan is depicted in this video, and explains why we come to wrap rice with leaves into dumplings. 

Baby Bus Dragon Boat Festival.

This one is great for the toddlers, with its cutesy animation and simple explanation of the festival.

学中文 Learn Chinese channel is a good Chinese learning Youtube channel for primary aged children. At the end of each video, there is a rhyme and vocabulary practise. 

This video is perfect for young Traditional Chinese learners, as the zhuyin are displayed alongside the Chinese words. 

YoYo Chinese

This video is perfect if you need pinyin, and English translation. 

No narration on this video, so you or your child will have to read the sentences on the screen to understand what’s going on in the video. This video gives a very expansive look at dragon boats all around the world. Imagine having a dragon boat race in a water bucket!!

Here’s wishing you a Happy Dragon Boat Festival! 端午节快乐!