Origami Chinese Zodiac + Literacy

(I have a separate post on other Chinese New Year literacy related activities here)

After making an origami advent calendar as a new Christmas tradition (post here ), I thought an origami Chinese zodiac wreathe could turn into a meaningful (literacy-centered) activity. We are a family of mixed cultural backgrounds after all, and I tend to do things with a twist so it would be appropriate in the context of our family to incorporate a bit of Japanese tradition into a Chinese celebration.

(Side note: as I was researching on the history of origami, I found out that origami MIGHT have been originated from China (source: Britannica), so in the end perhaps I am celebrating Chinese New Year in a very “Chinese” way!)

I cannot take credit for coming up with the idea of Chinese zodiac origami but came across this from the Instagram account @applemint130, who apparently was inspired from another origami master @kamikey_origami

Here are the videos I used, listed out in the order of the Chinese Zodiac. I am a real beginner so I only used videos that were clear, easy to follow and simple! I folded each animal myself first just to explore the level of difficulty, and these are certainly possible for Kai, who is 5 year old, with guidance.

Rat / Mouse










*** I used a bigger piece of paper than the one from the video so my chick looks bigger!




** I glued 2 pieces of A4 papers together and then cut them into square so my wreathe could fit all the 12 animals.

Some ideas for literacy connections (can be done in English or Chinese)


  • Write a fictional story about each animal
  • Write a new story about how the rat came first in the race
  • Write a story about how the “elephant” got left out in the race

This year (2022), @ourjoyoflearning and I created these printables to help you and your child learn about the Chinese zodiac animals:


If you are looking for Chinese New Year’s books in Singapore, Kokoandotto has a wide range of festive books for sale. Three of my favorites, which you can use year after year, include:

Stories in Chinese:


The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey

A catchy song about the Chinese Zodiac in Chinese: 十二生肖歌

Other Chinese New Year books for young readers (in English):

Dragon Dance by Joan Holub


Lanterns and Firecrackers by Jonny Zucker


Both books have bright colourful illustrations with short, easy to understand sentences to explain the customs of Chinese New Year, including Dragon Dance, firecrackers, red envelopes and a big dinner feast.

Chinese Yew Year books for older readers:

A New Year’s Reunion by Yu Li-Qiong

The story centres around the narrator’s dad coming home once a year to celebrate Chinese New Year.  Father and daughter are reunited and the book details how they spend their precious time together before the father return to the city.

Sam and The Lucky Money By Karen China

This story has beautiful and realistic illustrations in water colour and talks about Sam’s day in Chinatown with his $4 “red packet” and what he realises in the end.

If anyone ends up making the origami, please hashtag #Chinesezodiacorigami and tag me @mscaudias_bento

Other Lunar New Year related blogs:

Published by Ms Claudia L. Kimura

Apple Distinguished Educator, Class of 2015 Primary school teacher, technology coordinator Not just a regular mom, but a teacher-mom Mom of 2 boys, stepmom of 3 boys

7 thoughts on “Origami Chinese Zodiac + Literacy

  1. Hi, I’m new here and saw this from your FB post. I like the fishes made from the red envelopes. Do you have a video or link on how to make the fish?
    thank you!

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