This year, I managed to find a couple Chinese New Year books from the library in the toddler section. The Fudgelet loves reading them, and he also loves learning new Cantonese phrases/songs/etc. I figured doing some crafts related to the holiday would be perfect since he is also missing Christmas activities and decorations. Initially I was going to check out a craft store and grab some pre-packaged crafts kits. Then, I looked online and found a few sites with easy crafts. After we made them, we went to the craft store to get other goodies …. and apparently they didn’t have ANY Chinese decorations anyway! Unheard of! So, it’s just as well we did it ourselves.
In case you want to make something before January 28 (the official holiday), here are some easy ideas…
Let’s start with the harder one: Chinese lanterns
To make these, I used this website for directions. I began with regular construction paper. The size doesn’t really matter. The Fudgelet and I did some random paintings on the papers. I actually tried to paint “Fu” which is the character for luck. Unfortunately, I did my lanterns the wrong way so it is sideways. Next time I will just save it for hanging up and not cutting.
You begin by cutting a 1/4 to 1/2 inch strip from the short side of the paper. This will be used as a handle later. Next, fold the paper in half, hot dog style. However wide you cut your strip for the handle, use it as a template to draw a faint line, again along the short side of the paper. Mark evenly spaced dots along the line depending how wide you want your lantern strips. I did 1 inch.
Cut, starting at the fold, to the dots you cut, making the slashes. When you open it up, you can connect the edges to form your lantern. Before doing that, I colored in the borders on the top and bottom. Then, use glue or tape to put the lantern together, and then attach your handle.
My directions are not as clear as the pictures from the website I linked, so definitely go check them out.
For our second craft, we made a dragon from a paper plate. Normally you should use a plain plate, but we don’t have any right now. So, instead of buying some just for this, we used a fireworks plate that has a coating. It made it a little trickier, but still fun. I used this website for this craft. On that website, they painted their dragon at the end. I had us paint at the beginning. He isn’t really at the level to paint within lines/shapes/etc. yet. He just swirls it around. So, all over a plate was perfect. Do what is best for you.
To begin, we painted our plate. Use whatever colors you want. We just used basic tempera paint.
Next, cut the plate in half (I used the ridges to pick one point and go directly across). Then, take one half and cut it in half, making 2 quarter pieces. Then, take a quarter piece and cut it in half to make 2 1/8 pieces.
Take the two small pieces and cut them along the one edge to look like wings. Then, take the quarter piece and cut off the outer rim/edge. Cut the rim to look like a tail and draw on the other part to look like a dragon’s head and neck, then cut it out. Use glue to attach the head, tail, and wings to the half plate. Use a craft stick or a cardboard rectangle (I spraypainted ours gold) as a handle to make the dragon a puppet. I used craft glue to make it extra secure.
The Fudgelet likes seeing the lanterns in the house as decoration, and loves playing with the dragon. I also plan on making some dumplings and other traditional Chinese dishes to help celebrate. Gung Hay Fat Choy!