"Chun jie" marks the beginning of Chinese New Year. The two-week celebration starts with a bang, with firecrackers and parades among the festival's highlights. Teach your child a little about one of China's most important customs by creating a simplified dragon float that is inspired by the brilliant traditional ones seen in Chinese New Year parades. Your child will improve his fine motor skills with this decorative craft as he gains insight into a different culture.
What You Do:
- To inspire your child's creativity, look at images of dragons and dragon floats in books or on the Internet. Point out that red is a prominent part of Chinese New Year imagery, because the Chinese believe it to be a lucky color that can bring prosperity.
- Ask your child to do a pencil sketch of a dragon face on a thick paper plate. If your child prefers a bigger face, you can staple several paper plates together.
- Invite your child to paint the mask as he wishes using bright colors.
- Create supports for the dragon float by cutting two poster board strips, and stapling them to the underside of the plate or plates. Your child will hold onto these supports as he holds the float overhead.
- Show your child how to cut long streamers from different colors of crepe paper. Staple these to the borders of the dragon float so that that they hang down from it. These streamers will create a beautiful image as your child runs with his float!
Consider inviting several children to participate in this activity and create their own unique floats. They can attach the paper plates to each other to create a long dragon body, or each individually march with his dragon float overhead. Once the parade is over, the dragon mask makes a great piece of wall art. Mount the mask on a stick so that the streamers hang from it, or drape the mask in a doorway so your child has a crepe paper curtain to walk through!
Serena Makofsky has a multiple subjects teaching credential with an emphasis in cross-cultural instruction. She taught in inner city classrooms for many years. She also writes curriculum for English language learners.