With Chinese New Year just around the corner, I wanted to create a craft that could help my kids excited for the upcoming festivities. This DIY Chinese dragon puppet is perfect for grade school kids because it uses simple objects to create a customizable object that they can twirl and dance with afterwards. I was surprised how much fun my kids had with this–even my toddler wanted to constantly wave it around!
Some Cultural Background
Many Chinese New Year traditions can be traced back to the story of the monster, “Nian.” Every year, this monster would emerge from the sea and terrorize villages, eating livestock and even children! While villagers hid and shuttered their doors, one old man had a different plan. He decorated a house with bright red decorations and lanterns and prepared fireworks. When Nian approached the village, he noticed this particular house. As he drew near…pop! Bang! The old man lit the fireworks and banged on pots. The loud noise combined with the bright lights and colors sent Nian squealing into the night. The villagers, from then on, spent the new year with bright decorations and loud celebrations–all to scare away bad luck and any monsters who dared come near.
Today, many celebrate Chinese New Year by participating in a lion dance or a dragon dance. The dragon dance is meant to scare away evil spirits and bring good luck–the longer the dragon, the more the luck! Your kids can make this mini version of a dragon so they can do their own dragon dance and bring their own luck!
Let’s Get Crafting!
To get started, you will need:
- a paper cup
- a marker/pen
- red paint
- a paint brush
- colored paper
- streamers/crepe paper
- a stick or dowel
- googly eyes
Here is a quick tutorial of how to combine all these materials to make your Chinese dragon puppet:
In very simplistic terms, you need to attach long streamers onto a piece on paper, roll up that paper, and insert it into a cup. You must then push a dowel or a stick so it goes through the cup and pieces of paper, pinning everything into place. Decorations are customizable!
My kids made up their own dances and performances and had lots of fun. I hope you get a chance to try it out too!
Happy New Year! 新年快樂！