Go to top of page

Moon Lantern Festival

Cultural events


Suitable for children: 
Skills this activity improves: 
Family enjoying some food at the moon lantern festival

Celebrate the new moon with your family and friends. You can get together in your backyard, at a local park or by going to one of the big festivals.

Chinese and Vietnamese families traditionally celebrated the new moon as part of the Mid-Autumn Festival on the 15th day of the 8th month. Explain to your child that we have a different calendar in Australia.

Talk to your child about the festival and how it celebrates the moon. Explain that different people, families and cultures will celebrate different events and days.

The Moon Lantern Festival celebrates the gathering of friends and family after the crops are harvested. The celebration is to give thanks for the harvest and pray for family and good fortune. Some cultures will celebrate with a lion dance, carry brightly coloured lanterns or eat mooncakes.

Materials you will need

  • Picnic set
  • Rug
  • Family
  • Night-time
  • Party food

Alternative tools

  • Torch
  • Candles
  • Mooncakes
  • Lantern

Why does this matter?

As you talk to your child and involve them in preparing for a celebration they are learning about planning and measurement. They are developing the language they need to talk about what they are doing.

Explore with your child when the event might happen or what tasks can be done at the same time. As you do this your child will be beginning to sort and group activities. They will be learning how to order when things happen based on time.

Hearing and listening to instructions and language that include quantity, number and measurement helps your child to learn to follow directions. It will help them develop the language they need to ask questions if they don’t know what to do.

What does this lead to?

As your child helps to organise a celebration they are exploring measurement and the different directions or language we use to describe measurement. They are exploring the measurement concepts of:

  • number - How many lanterns will we light? How many days till the full moon?
  • size - How big a cake will we need to cook for 10 people to eat?
  • quantity - How many mooncakes will we need for 5 hungry people?
  • time - When is the lantern parade? What day, time or month will the Moon Lantern Festival be?

Language to use

  • Moon Festival, Lantern Festival, Harvest Festival, celebration, festival
  • Gathering, thanksgiving, praying
  • Full moon, night-time, dark, light, stars
  • Lion dance, mooncakes, lantern
  • Calendar, day, time, month, year

Questions to use

  • Where does the sun go when the moon is in the sky?
  • Are all the lanterns the same colour?
  • Can you see the light from a torch during the day?
  • Why is the festival at night?

Useful tips

  1. Get together with others to watch the moon and the lanterns light the sky. Google where your community will be holding celebrations
  2. You might also like to take a look at the activities New Year and Lunar New Year.
  3. You might find the Calendars activity useful.
  4. Remember to talk to your child in your home language.

More ideas

  1. For ideas about how to celebrate try googling ‘Moon Lantern Festival’ or ‘Mid-Autumn Festival’.
  2. Mark off on the calendar how many days till the Moon Lantern Festival
  3. Make your own lanterns. How many different designs can you make?

Variation by age

Three to five year olds

  • Borrow books from your local library about the Moon Lantern Festival.
  • Make your own storybook about the celebrations.
  • Look in the local paper to see what local events are happening.
  • Make a calendar of significant family events.
  • Create a celebration cookbook. Make a different page for each family member. They can list their favourite food on their page.
  • Try and make your own mooncakes.

Questions to ask

  • What ingredients do we need to make a mooncake?
  • What celebrations are happening?
  • Is your birthday before or after the Moon Lantern Festival?

Language to use

  • Celebration, party, event
  • Birthday, festival, season
  • Calendar, day, time, month, year
  • Food, singing, dancing