Our Chinese red lanterns

Our Chinese red lanterns

Last week I introduced the girls to Mardi Gras with our crafts and cheater beingets. This week we are learning about Chinese New Year!

The Chinese New Year celebrates family and hope for prosperity. Many families gather and give gifts of lucky money tucked inside red envelops and take their family portraits. Many celebrations include lion dances, or dragon dances. This tradition is believed to expel evil spirits and bad fortune. Celebrants even wear red clothing to attract good fortune. There are so many different customs to this two week celebration we couldn’t fit it all in. My girls seemed the most interested in dragons and red lanterns. So, we focused on those to start.

At Christmas I gave each of the girls a new book every night as we counted down to Christmas Day. I usually rummage through garage and library sales to find gently used, inexpensive books. This time, I ordered a few books from Barefoot Books simply because I love the quality in both the writing and illustrations. One of our new favorite books to read (and inspiration for this post) is Lin Yi’s Lantern.

Our new favorite Barefoot Book

Our new favorite Barefoot Book

It shares the story of a little boy getting ready for the moon festival and his desire to carry a red rabbit lantern. I love this book because it has a great story, some folklore and includes a craft idea at the end of the book!

Folklore about the

Folklore about the Moon Fairy

A little history about life in China.

A little history about life in China.

We found these dragon coloring pages on Pintrest. Just color, cut and paste to a craft stick or back of a paper plate to  make a mask.

Coloring our dragon masks.

Coloring our dragon masks.

 

Here is what you will need to make your own red lanterns:

Materials for red lanterns - including our Chinese take out menu.

Materials for red lanterns – including our Chinese take out menu.

  • Red Paper
  • Gold Paint or markers
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Chinese food take out menu (all this talk about Chinese culture made me hungry)
Instructions on how to make your own lanterns.

Instructions on how to make your own lanterns.

I let the kids go to town with the dot paints and make their lanterns their own. Once the paint is try simply fold paper length wise, then cut a straight line stopping about 2 inches before the edge of the paper. Repeat about 7 times (depending on how thick you make your cutting lines). Open the lantern and roll it until the ends touch. Tape the ends together. You can make a handle by cutting another strip and taping it to the top.

Our Chinese red lanterns

Our Chinese red lanterns

The girls wanted the lanterns to really light up, so I added some glow sticks. We turned out the lights and carried them in our own little parade and danced like dragons. Now where is that Chinese take out menu?

 

You can read more about Chinese New Year and the lantern festival here.

 

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