This year, Chinese New Year falls on the 1st February 2022.
Celebrate the year of the tiger with these fun and simple crafting activities to enjoy with your little ones. Choose from a magical Chinese paper lantern or your very own Chinese Dragon.
We're a huge fan of a good old craft over here at Le Toy Van HQ. It’s a great way for children to tune into their creative side and a lovely exercise to enjoy together. Perfect for a rainy day, weekend or half term activity.
Our Tip: Use recycled materials where possible, and create your very own sustainable DIY crafts.
Easy and Effective Chinese Paper Lantern
You will need:
- A4 Paper or thin card (coloured card is a great option)
- Tape or stapler
- Child friendly glue
- Various bits and bobs to decorate your lantern (ribbon, glitter, coloured pens, feathers, stick on jewels, stickers, washi tape, sequins etc. Just have a good rummage and see what you can find or repurpose from around your home)
- Take your A4 piece of paper or card (coloured card works really well here). We like reds, oranges and yellows - these colours symbolise the flag of China and are also synonymous with Chinese New Year.
- If you don’t have coloured card, then don’t worry. Why not paint your own or decorate it with your own patterns. You could always cover it with gift wrap. Or even draw an animal striped print, in celebration of the year of the tiger. Once you’ve added your own touches, leave to dry if needed, before moving on to the next step.
- Cut a 2.5 cm strip from the short edge of your piece of paper or card and put this to one side for later. This will become the handle for your lantern,
- Next, fold your piece of paper or card in half lengthways, as shown below:
- Now, take your pencil and draw a line approx. 2.5 cm thick along the open edge of the fold.
- Take your scissors (child safety scissors are ideal) and, starting from the folded edge, start to cut straight lines, around 2.5cm thick, up to the pencil line. Continue, until you have slits running all the way along your card or paper. Remember: Always supervise youngsters when scissors are being used.
- Unfold your paper and use a rubber or eraser to rub out the pencil mark. Now, it’s time to get arty! Decorate the top and bottom edge of your lantern, taking care not to cover the slits. We love washi tape for this, or feel free to add a splash of gold paint, glitter or embellishments using sequins or jewels. Be unique and get as creative as you like.
- Now, for the magic! It’s time to assemble your Chinese lantern. Roll your piece of paper into a tube shape and ensure the long edges are overlapping a little. Secure in place with staples, or tape the bottom and top edges together. Again, watch little hands when the stapler is being used.
- Add your paper handle using the strip of paper you cut out earlier. Attach this with glue, tape or staple to each side of the top edge of your lantern. For a final flourish, you could always decorate your handle before you attach it.
And, there you have your paper lantern! Hang it up as a wonderful festive decoration to enjoy the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Chinese ‘Concertina’ Dragon
You will need:
- Paper (recycled paper, used wrapping paper, used magazines also work well)
- Card (a used carton or cereal box will do the trick)
- Child safe glue
- Wooden lollipop sticks (save you old lolly sticks for this if you can)
- Coloured pens or colouring pencils
- Glitter, feathers, felt etc. (just raid the craft drawer and see what you can find)
- First, take your paper and cut out two strips of paper, each measuring approx 30cm long and 2 cm wide. Be careful with scissors and always supervise young ones. Child safe scissors are always a good option if you have them.
- Decorate your paper with colouring pens, glitter or whatever else takes your fancy. Chinese dragons are very colourful and decorative so get kiddies to really go for it. Leave to dry if needed.
- Take your strips of paper and lay one vertically, with the other one laid horizontally over one end, to from an ‘L’ shape, then glue them together, like this:
- Now fold one piece over the other, taking it in turns with each strip, until you end up with one square of folded paper, like so:
- Carefully open the square, holding each end, and gently pull to reveal a long concertina shape. This will become the body of your dragon.
- Take two lollipop sticks and decorate these too if you like. Then, glue one to each end of the concertina, underneath one of the folds. It doesn't really matter which side at this point. Carefully put to one side to dry.
- Whilst the lollipop sticks are drying, it’s time to make the Dragons face. Take some card and roughly draw the outline of a dragon. You can use this handy template if you like, or feel free to create your own. You are aiming for an oversized head, as shown here:
- Little ones can really go wild here and use their creative licence. Add colours using paints or crayons, use stick on eyes or draw your own, and add feathers of coloured card layered on top of one another. And don't forget the glitter for a final flourish.
- If you have any red felt or card, you can cut out a dragon’s tongue. Leave a flap at the top end so you can stick it to the dragon's head. Here’s an example to help you out:
- Take your concertina body and glue/stick the card face to one end.
And there you have it. Your Chinese Dragon is now complete. Why not make a family of dragons or even act out your own puppet show!
If you and your little crafters are interested to know more about the legend of the Chinese Dragon, have a read of this sweet short children’s story.
If you enjoyed this activity, why not download one of our free printable colouring sheets or get kids to follow our easy-peasy tutorial on how to draw.
For more play inspo ideas, take a peek at our collection of traditional, handcrafted wooden toys. Beautiful, sustainable treasures to inspire young imaginations through the magic of play.
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