Scholastic has a nice set of lesson plans for studying China and incorporating that into a celebration of Chinese New Year
Chinese Unit overview
Chinese inventions from about.com
Activities: The lesson plan calls for making a compass as an example of one invention. Another option would be to make an abacus out of beads and popsicle sticks or cardboard. Though I think I might prefer the more modern version that is base 10 to the authentic version which is more like base 15 in some ways.
Lesson 2: Story of silk