Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chinese New Year Lantern Craft

The 2013 celebration of Chinese New Year starts on February 10. To make learning about this traditional Chinese holiday hands-on, I dreamed up a fun craft to make with my son.

Before we started it, though, my son read a great story that taught him LOADS about Chinese New Year, like:
  • The holiday uses a different calendar based on the moon.
  • Tangerines are considered good luck.
  • To disguise themselves from bad spirits, the Chinese wear new clothes during the celebration.
  • There's a big parade with dragons, and fireworks to scare off the bad spirits for the coming year.
This book was perfect for my son. It's fiction chocked full of great non-fiction facts about Chinese culture and beliefs. And it's by Marc Brown, beloved author of the Arthur books. This one just so happens to feature the lovable character Buster!

Since the 15-day Chinese New Year celebration ends with the lantern festival, I thought it'd be fun to make our own version of the amazing red lanterns that are so popular.

2 pieces of bright red cardstock (Marc Brown's book taught us that red brings good luck.)
2 plastic red disposable cups
gold ribbon
gold fringe
paper punch
low-temp glue gun

How We Made It
1. Cut 10 strips (1 1/2- by 8 1/2-inches) of red paper. Punch holes in the ends of the strips about a 1/2 inch up from the ends with a hole punch. Make sure the holes are in the same places on all the strips.

2. Trim the cups down to 1/2-inch tall. You need two shallow cup to serve as the top and bottom of the lantern.

3. Poke a small hole in the center of both cups (I did this for my son and used a small Exacto knife).

4. Cut a long strip of gold ribbon. Tie a knot close to one end. Thread the cup onto the ribbon, with the sides of the cup pointing away from the knot.

5. Now thread one end of the stack of strips onto the ribbon.

6. Then thread the other end of the strips onto the ribbon. It will form a natural arch.

7. Add the other cup to the ribbon. Make sure it is inverted opposite of the other cup. Make a loop and tie and knot at the top.

8. Now separate the strips of paper so they form a red globe shape. (My son loved the transformation from flat paper to a spherical shape!)

9. Glue fringe to the bottom cup with a low-temp glue gun. Add a ring of gold ribbon around the top cup.

10. Enjoy your lantern! We hope it brings you good luck.

For more great books about China and Chinese New Year, check out a great reading list featured on No Time for Flashcards.


  1. We have a Chinese New Year Playdate planned with our friends after school and this will make the perfect craft. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Best lantern design/tutorial I have seen! Thanks! I am always looking for CNY crafts/activities!