Adele has been a youth services librarian for 25 years and a mother to a daughter from China for 20 years.
The Year of the Rat in the Chinese Zodiac
The rat is the 1st animal in the Chinese Zodiac, and every 12th Chinese new year heralds the start of another year named for this clever animal. People born in the year of the rat are thought to be generous, witty, alert, and flexible. On the other hand, they are also thought to be a bit stubborn and picky.
Celebrate the Year of the Rat With These Educational Coloring Sheets
I’ve designed all these printable Year of the Rat coloring sheets for young children including preschoolers, kindergartners, and elementary school kids. Some of the rat images are my own designs while others are sourced from Pixabay or purchased under license from istock.com. You are allowed to print them for personal, classroom, or library use, but not for commercial use.
The Chinese character you see in the lanterns in the pictures is the character for "rat." The Chinese phrases say "Happy New Year!" You will see the phrase spelled out in pinyin—a system that uses English letters to indicate how the words are pronounced—and then repeated using Chinese characters.
For more easy, printable projects, see this article about printable Year of the Rat greeting cards. If you click on my name above, you will find additional articles with educational printables including lucky red envelopes, bookmarks, and other craft projects.
Year of the Rat Coloring Sheets: Landscape Orientation
The first 8 coloring sheets are in landscape orientation. Previews of the pages can be seen in the photos below. If you need portrait orientation coloring pages, you’ll want to scroll down to the next link.
Landscape Orientation Coloring Pages
Year of the Rat Coloring Sheets: Portrait Orientation
These next 8 coloring sheets are in portrait orientation. Previews of the pages can be seen in the photos below. If you need landscape orientation coloring pages, you’ll want to scroll up to the previous link.
Portrait Orientation Coloring Pages
Additional Facts About the Year of the Rat
- Generally, the years designated as Years of the Rat include 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020, 2032. These years are calculated according to a lunar calendar, and the date of the new year's beginning changes each year. For instance, a baby born in 2020 but before January 25th is still considered as being born in the previous zodiac year, the Year of the Pig.
- The recommended occupations for rats are artist, author, teacher, and doctor.
- In addition to celebrating the animals of the zodiac in a 12-year cycle, the Chinese also recognize 5 different sets of cycles: wood, fire, earth, gold, and water. 2020, for instance, is the year of the metal rat. Metal rats are especially persuasive and sensitive according to traditional Chinese lore.
A Rat's Tale
In some cultures, rats are looked down upon, but the Chinese zodiac puts them first because they are so resourceful and clever.
A common folktale tells the story of how the years came to be named. The emperor of heaven decided to have a race between the animals. They had to line up on one side of the river and cross it to the get to the finish line. The ox was the best swimmer, and it looked likely to win until the rat—who had been hitching a ride between the ox’s horns—scampered onto the bank and across the finish line first.
In some cultures, we would interpret the rat’s actions as cheating, but in the story, the rat is complimented for being clever and figuring out the quickest way to get to the finish line.
Famous People Born in the Year of the Rat
- George Washington
- John F. Kennedy
- Wolfgang Mozart
- William Shakespeare
- Prince Charles
© 2019 Adele Jeunette
JC Scull from Gainesville, Florida on December 18, 2019:
You can add me to the list of people born in the year of the rat....unfortunately not famous...not yet anyway!!!