Many Asian traditions are being forgotten or rapidly lost between generations. While it’s important that such traditions are preserved for future generations, younger children often have little interest in simply sitting and listening.
All parents will know how tricky keeping children engaged can be, which is why having fun craft activities that stimulate children’s imaginations while teaching them important pieces of cultural history is so important. In this blog post, you’ll find several fun kids activities, all great ways to explore and celebrate Asian culture with your children.
The use of henna to decorate skin is a common practice in many parts of Asia. Making henna tattoos is a great way to learn more about the cultural importance of henna and the history behind the dye’s use. If you would like to learn how you and your children can make homemade henna ink and some beautiful henna body art, check out this free activity pack from Education.com.
Bolang Gu (Pellet Drum)
For anyone who wants to get loud with their children, we have a fun musical craft that is easy to make and even easier to play! The Bolang Gu is a small two-sided handheld drum with origins in China’s Song Dynasty and is commonly used for religious rituals in Tibet, Mongolia, India, and Taiwan. This article by tiny tapping toes walks through how you can make your own Bolang Gu using only a few easy-to-find resources. Have fun drumming, just make sure you hide your little one’s new instrument before bedtime!
The orizuru, or paper crane, is an iconic origami design that turns a simple piece of paper into something beautiful. This article by Mommy Maleta outlines how she made her own origami cranes with the help of the YouTube Channel Rob’s World. The best part about origami is that all you really need is paper! If you’re keen to spice up your cranes, try experimenting with different colours and patterned paper.
Vesak Lotus Lantern
Vesak is a Buddhist festival commonly observed in South and Southeast Asia which commemorates Buddha’s birthday. Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka are some of the countries that celebrate Vesak by decorating streets and temples with lanterns and lotus flowers. This guide by Activity Village outlines how you can create your own lotus flower paper lamp. The craft requires a small electric tealight, but everything else needed for the activity – paint and paper cups – should be fairly easy to source. The lantern is of course perfect for Vesak celebrations but is also a cute creation that looks lovely for any special occasion.
Kites have a rich history in Asia. In Malaysia, the Wau Bulan adorns the Nation’s 50-cent coin, while early spring in Thailand sees regular kite flying contests held outside the country’s royal palace. This article by Activity Village describes how you and your children can create your own kites. While the kite Activity Village outlined has been designed with the Lunar New Year in mind, there are countless different Asian designs you can try; the people at Crafty Moms Share have written a post showcasing a few different design ideas that you can experiment with.
Paper Fortune Cookies
Fortune cookies are a fun and tasty treat that everybody loves. The people at Messy Little Monster have put together a simple step-by-step guide outlining how you can make your own paper fortune cookies that look good enough to eat! Each cookie can be filled with inspiring messages and personalized notes, perfect for motivating kids with positive reinforcement.
Malaysian Themed Playdough Crafts
If your children love getting creative with playdough and you have a few tubs at home, then this activity article from The Artsy Craftsy is perfect for you. The post outlines three different Malaysian-themed playdough craft activities, including a cute Malayan tiger, real-enough-to-eat mini karipaps and – our personal favourite – a homemade congkak. Congkak is a traditional Malaysian board game that is also popular in Singapore and Brunei. Check out this video from wikiHow which details the rules of congkak.
Homemade Plastic Bangles
Bangles have always been an integral part of Indian culture and can be regularly seen at Indian weddings. For those of you raising any budding fashionistas, Activity Village has put together a guide on how you can make your own homemade bangles using old plastic bottles. The guide provides instructions on how you can create a basic bangle, which can then be decorated however you like. Activity Village has even provided additional guides on a range of design styles varying from a traditional Ribbon Bangle to a flashy Sweet Wrapper Bangle – the latter a great excuse to crack open the candy tin!
Holi Colouring Page
The Hindu festival of Holi is renowned for being colourful and lively. The throwing of coloured Gulal powder and water is a key part of the celebrations and is said to pay tribute to the bright colours seen during spring. If you’re keen to get involved with the Holi celebrations but are hesitant to let your kids splatter the house with colour, these free Holi colouring pages from ArtsyCraftsyMom are a tidier alternative that still encompasses the colourful spirit of Holi. The pages can also be enjoyed at any time of the year, acting as a wonderful introduction to Holi for your kids.
The gong is a grand instrument with a rich history rooted in East and Southeast Asia. Like the Bolang Gu mentioned earlier, the gong is simple to play and produces a brilliant sound. Check out this pack from Daria Music to learn how you can make your own mini gong. The craft is slightly tricky, so make sure you’re on standby to give your little ones a helping hand. Once you’ve designed the gong make sure to decorate it so that it’s unique to you and your children. If you’re struggling for inspiration, Daria has been kind enough to include images of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals, and a chart for determining your own zodiac animal so that you can design your gong based on your birth year.
Korean Sam Taeguk Flag
The Sam Taeguk is a variation of the Taeguk symbol found on the Korean national flag. The symbol is a swirl of red, blue, and yellow, said to represent heaven, earth, and humanity. The tricoloured Taeguk is also closely related to Gankyil or the ‘wheel of joy’, a Tibetan and Korean Buddhist symbol. This guide by Stephanie Meade from InCultureParent describes how you can make a Sam Taeguk fan using a free fan template provided by them and a few bits and pieces found around the house.
Lunar New Year Banners
It is common practice for those celebrating the Lunar New Year to put up banners featuring detailed Chinese blessings. Sunny from Spot of Sunshine has created a set of super useful Lunar New Year banners, each depicting a range of Chinese characters. These banners are a great way for children to learn a little about the festival and how people go about celebrating it. Simply print the free banners, cut them out and let your little ones colour them in however they like (for a traditional look, Sunny suggests using gold-coloured paint!).
The kokeshi doll is a simple children’s toy originating from Japan. The doll’s most notable features are its lack of arms and legs as well as its enlarged head, a design which is said to have inspired Nintendo’s iconic ‘Mii’ avatars. While they are typically handcrafted out of blocks of cherry wood, this article from Artists Helping Children describes how you can easily make your own homemade kokeshi dolls. This craft may require a bit of extra effort scouring for materials, however, though it’s well worth it; the homemade kokeshi dolls look so pretty sitting atop a shelf or dresser and make excellent mini gifts for friends and family.
Vietnamese Research Activity Pack
This recommendation is more on the academic side but is a fun activity to work through with your kids nonetheless. The All About Vietnam research worksheet can be found on Twinkle and encourages children to research Vietnam and fill in the worksheet with their findings. The activity covers topics like tourist attractions and bordering countries, perfect for sparking curiosity and intrigue. It’s a brilliant way for your child to learn about Vietnam and is a great way to keep their brains – and maybe even yours – ticking during the school breaks!
Mid-Autumn Festival Lantern
The Mid-Autumn Festival, or Zhongqiu Jie in Chinese, is the second most celebrated festival in China after the Lunar New Year and stems from the Chinese tradition of celebrating the harvest. During this period of celebration, many families will get together to make and hang up lanterns. This article by China Family Adventure provides a step-by-step guide on how to make your own lantern out of paper; it’s super simple and all you need is paper, scissors and glue! While this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival may have already passed, this activity is great for a full day of Zhongjiu Jie-themed fun all year round!
Lunar New Year Theme Pack
Lunar New Year is a hugely significant occasion for many people across Asia. The lovely people at Happy Tot Shelf have put together an excellent Lunar New Year activity pack that you can download for free. The pack contains 18 printable activity sheets, each themed around a different New Year story or tradition. The pack doesn’t necessarily have to be used just during the Lunar New Year – it is perfect for keeping youngsters busy on those pesky rainy days!
Cultivating Inclusion and Representation
Letting children get hands-on with creative and fun kids activities is a fantastic way to develop their understanding of Asian culture. Alongside the activities above, toys that cultivate inclusion and representation are essential to a child’s development and can play an important role in helping them understand the importance of diversity. Joeydolls’ Asian Diverse Toy Dolls allow Asian children to feel the same joy and excitement as their friends who may be used to seeing toys that look like them. Our toy dolls come dressed in a range of traditional Asian clothing that celebrates different cultures, something that can supplement a child’s education of Asian culture and history.