Everyday can be Chinese New Year with a dancing dragon that your child can make at home. This dragon includes folding techniques and assembling pieces to help allow for motion in the completed work of art.
What You Do:
- Have your child draw a profile of a dragon’s head on a piece of white construction paper. Encourage him to draw a head at least twice the size of his hand and include a little bit of neck, which will be needed to attach it to the body.
- Encourage your child to decorate the dragon's head by coloring it a variety of different colors and give it a fearsome appearance. We used blue, orange and yellow. Explain to your child that the eyes of the dragon are what best communicate the dragon's temperament, so he'll want to focus on those.
- Then, have him cut out the head and set it aside.
- Cut a sheet of red construction paper in half lengthwise, creating two long strips. Tape the strips together so they become one strip of red paper.
- Help your child begin folding the strip of paper accordion-style. Start by folding the paper at least one-inch wide and make a strong crease. Fold it on top of itself the other way and make another strong crease. Repeat this until the entire strip of paper is folded.
- Hold the paper that is folded into an accordion in one hand and cut a design into the edge using scissors.
- Release the accordion fold and lay it out on a table. Glue the wooden sticks using white glue onto one side of the accordion. Make sure they’re spaced out so one is toward the front and one is toward the back. This will be what he holds so the dragon can dance! Set the project aside to dry. You can reinforce the glued sticks with a strip of paper tape.
- Have him draw out a dragon tail on separate sheet of red paper and cut it out with scissors. Then, he should color the tail so that it matches the head.
- Help your child staple the head from the neck to the front of the red accordion paper. Use one staple at the top of the neck and one at the bottom to hold it securely. Then, staple the tail at the opposite end of the accordion body. The staples can be reinforced with tape.
- Now your child is ready to dance the night away with his very own Chinese Dancing Dragon!
Fun Facts: One popular myth behind the Chinese New Year celebration is how a beast called Nien, which was similar to a dragon, would come and steal from the Chinese people each year on New Year’s Day. One day a child wearing a red outfit scared the beast away. This is why the color red is often associated with good luck in China!
Ellen Dean has worked as an art educator in Thailand since 2005, working with both children and adults. She has also been a professional artist working in painting, sculpture and photography since 1996.