Monday, January 23, 2012

Lanterns & Dragons

Today is Chinese New Year (aka Spring Festival) and marks the start of the Year of the Dragon. It is also the biggest holiday in China. There are a lot of fun traditions and festivals leading up to this day each year and I only read about them, so I'm not going to pretend to be any kind of expert. Some of the things that they do are have a lantern festival and watch parades with people dressed as dragons and lions.
Before we started our two projects, I read my boys the book "Lanterns and Firecrackers." It was a simple run down of what goes on during the Chinese New Year.
We also got "Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats" to read later today, as suggested by Let's Explore (who has some great monthly book lists).
Both projects are simple and require few supplies.  Construction paper, scissors, glue, a stapler, and paper plates should do the trick.
 To make the lanterns, fold the paper lengthwise, from the folded side make cuts about 1.5 to 2 inches (or really, whatever distance you like) without cutting all the way to the edge of the paper. Unfold it and roll it up like pictures and secure with a couple of staples.
Red is a more traditional color to use, but my boys wanted different colors, so we made a whole rainbow of them.
You can add handles to the lanterns by cutting a strip of paper and stapling it on two sides of the lantern. We use the short end of the construction paper, but any length is fine.
 Our next project was to make some dragon masks. If you look at pictures of Chinese dragon masks you will see that they are very colorful and there is a lot of variety. My boys like being able to just make it up as they went without feeling like they had to have it a certain way (though they did seem to copy elements of mine).
 We used the bottom side of the paper plates so that that masks would curve towards our faces. My younger son wanted his to have eye holes, so we cut those out before gluing on the paper so he could see. From here it is a free for all. I ripped all my pieces for a different sort of texture. My older son cut his with scissors. My younger son wanted stripes. As you can see, there are so many ways to make the masks. You could even just paint or color the masks with crayons.
Ta-da! It took awhile for the glue to dry. At their request after I was done taking pictures, I added popsicle stick to the bottom so they could hold them that way. 
 Enjoying making these projects and using it as a time to teach your kids about customs that people have in other countries. And to top it all off, have Chinese food tonight!

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