To help my kids learn about the 12 zodiac animals and the Chinese calendar system, I created an interactive Chinese Zodiac Wheel!
This free printable Zodiac Wheel is available in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, and English.
I hope your family has fun learning from the Chinese Zodiac Wheel, too!
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Teach Kids clock and calendar skills
This resource is part of a series on how to teach kids clock and calendar skills:
- Interactive Perpetual Calendar
- Calendar Wheels: Days of the week and Months of the Year
- Months and Seasons Paper Plate Puzzle
- Chinese Zodiac Wheel (This article)
- Teach Kids Time with Simple, Hands-On Clock Activities
What is the Chinese Zodiac 十二生肖?
The Chinese Zodiac is a major part of Chinese culture and its calendar system.
Based on a recurring 12-year cycle, each year corresponds with an animal based on the traditional folktale of the Chinese zodiac race!
Saturday, January 25, 2020 will mark the start of the upcoming Chinese New Year, the year of the rat.
Important Chinese zodiac vocabulary in Chinese, Pinyin, and English
- 十二生肖 (Shí’èr shēngxiào / Chinese Zodiac)
- In order, the 12 zodiac animals are as follows:
- 鼠 (Shǔ/ Rat)
- 牛 (Niú/ Ox)
- 虎 (Hǔ/ Tiger)
- 兔 (Tù/ Rabbit)
- 龙 / 龍 ( Lóng / Dragon)
- 蛇 (Shé / Snake)
- 马 / 馬 (Mǎ / Horse)
- 羊 (Yáng / Goat, Sheep, Ram)
- 猴 (Hóu / Monkey)
- 鸡 / 雞(Jī / Rooster)
- 狗 (Gǒu / Dog)
- 猪 / 豬 (Zhū / Pig, Boar)
Chinese zodiac wheel: what you need to make it
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- Chinese zodiac wheel template
- Printer paper or cardstock*
- Laminating pouches
- Paper fastener
- X-Acto Knife
- Cutting board
* In the images in this post, you’ll see that in 2018, we used red & yellow cardstock. In 2019, we printed on white paper and colored it in.
How to make the Chinese Zodiac Wheel:
- Print and laminate Chinese Zodiac Wheel templates
- Cut along the edge of inner circle on first page
- Optional: Cut along the edge of outer circle on second page.
- Place smaller circle on top of larger circle
- Insert paper fastener at center of both circles
I recommend laminating the Chinese Zodiac wheel for durability so your child can spin it frequently without worry!
十二生肖 Chinese Zodiac Wheels on display!
Here is example of how we put up 2 language versions of the Chinese Zodiac Wheels with painter’s tape on the wall.
Since Chinese is a minority language for my children, I try to make sure that my children have easy access to Chinese language and culture throughout our house.
My daughter has a lot of fun spinning it, counting how many years until it’s a certain animal’s year, and finding everybody’s zodiac animal!
Last year, my baby son had fun trying to take them off the wall! This year, he understands that he should leave it in place.
For all of the parents of babies and toddlers, our little ones will eventually learn to keep things in place! 🙂
Chinese zodiac wheel: coloring sheet
Here’s another way that the Zodiac printable can be presented!
My daughter had fun beautifying the Chinese zodiac wheel with rainbow colors!
十二生肖 Zodiac matching activities
Learning about calendar years with the Chinese zodiac 十二生肖
Older kids can learn a little math through various matching games
The Zodiac wheel along with our calendar wheel printable helped my daughter understand the relationship between last year, this year, and next year!
What is your child’s zodiac symbol? What did your kids think of the Chinese zodiac wheel?
If you use this Interactive Chinese Zodiac Wheel, please let us know!
We’d love to hear about your experience!
More FREE Chinese New Year resources for kids
- Chinese New Year Books and Audiobooks
- DIY Chinese Red Envelope (Free printable)
- 20+ Fun and Educational Chinese New Year Activities for Kids!
- Chinese New Year YouTube Videos in Mandarin Chinese
Tips on creating a Chinese learning environment at home
- Teach Your Child a Second Language at Home with 5 Key Steps
- Raising Multilingual Children as a Non-Fluent Parent: 7 Lessons Learned
- How To Get Your Child To Speak the Minority Language
- When and How to Introduce Chinese Characters to Kids?
- How I Taught My Child 1000+ Chinese Characters as a Non-Fluent Speaker