Animals Inside the Forbidden City


A famous section of Beijing, the capital of China, is surrounded by a moat. Imagine being in The Forbidden City, where animal statues decorate streets and tops of buildings.


1. Find information about Beijing and The Forbidden City. Look at pictures. How old is this famous area? Why does it have such an intriguing name? Why are statues of animals such as dragons, horses, and lions so prominently displayed? Imagine walking these ancient Chinese streets. Then create a replica of a real or imaginary animal. You could even combine two familiar animals to make a new creature!

2. We suggest using a paper plate as a base when you sculpt with Crayola Air-Dry Clay. To color the clay, knead a few drops of Crayola Tempera Paint into a handful of clay—or wait until you are finished and then paint it.

3. To make a head, roll a small ball of clay. Add horns, ears, eyes, or mouth by pinching the clay and shaping. Use toothpicks, craft sticks, plastic dinnerware, or other sculpting tools to etch features into your animal.

4. Form an oval for a body. Cut a roll of clay into four pieces to make legs. To attach parts, scratch the surfaces to be joined, dampen slightly with water, and press them together. Air-dry the clay for at least 3 days.

5. Cover your painting area with newspaper. Paint your animal with Crayola Tempera Paint. Air-dry the paint.

6. Present your animal to your class with a story about its imagined origins in China. What memorable events have taken place in its part of The Forbidden City?

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

Crayola Modeling Materials including Crayola Model Magic®, and Model Magic Fusion™, Crayola Air-Dry Clay, and Crayola Dough—

  • Keep away from open flames. Do not use to make candleholders, hot plates, trivets, or other similar objects that will be used or placed near fire and other heat sources.
  • Do not put in an oven, microwave, or kiln.
  • Do not make into vessels/containers that will hold unpackaged food.
  • The use of modeling material to make items that look like food is discouraged for children younger than age 5 to avoid their confusion with real food.
  • Unless sealed with a water-resistant glaze, do not make projects exposed to or immersed in water, such as boats or outdoor bird feeders. They would disintegrate when exposed to moisture.
  • Crayola Dough—contains gluten (wheat flour) as an ingredient.
  • Crayola Air-Dry Clay, Crayola Model Magic and Model Magic Fusion are gluten-free. However, they are produced on the same machinery as Crayola Dough which does contain gluten. Although the machines are cleaned prior to the start of each production run, there is a slight possibility that trace amounts of gluten from Crayola Dough may be present in the other modeling compound products. For information regarding specific ingredients or allergic concerns, please call our Consumer Affairs department at 1-800-272-9652 weekdays between 9 AM and 4 PM Eastern Standard Time.

Modeling Tools—Use the least dangerous point or edge sufficient to do the job. For example, craft sticks, plastic knives and forks, and cookie cutters can cut or carve modeling materials.

Wood—By its nature, wood is rough and may contain splinters or sharp points


  • The Forbidden City in Beijing is known for its symmetrical and logical plan. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a city planned by William Penn was built with the same type of logical plan. What are the differences in these two cities? What are their similarities?
  • Learn more about Chinese history. The emperor Qubilai Qan chose Beijing for his personal seat in 1260. Who was he and why is he important to China’s history?
  • Build a replica of The Forbidden City using recycled boxes, cardboard, and Air-Dry Clay. Add creatures to scale in appropriate places.
  • Assessment: Students can name the capital city of China and briefly describe its history. They sculpt a replica animal, invent a story about how their statue came to be on display in The Forbidden City, and identify at least one event that took place in that section of Beijing.

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

Share on Facebook


crayola supplies
  • Paint Brush
  • Paint
  • Air-Dry Clay
household supplies
  • recycled newspaper
  • Party Express paper plates
  • toothpicks - wooden
  • craft sticks
  • paper towels
  • container(s) of water



  • Grades 4 to 6


  • Science
  • Visual Arts


  • Multiple Sessions


  • Students research information about China’s capital and the area known as The Forbidden City.

  • Students identify real and imaginary sculptures displayed on Beijing’s streets and rooftops.

  • Students sculpt and paint replicas of these sculptures and invent a story about how their creature came to be displayed in The Forbidden City.


Research Canada Standards
Research UK Standards
Research U.S. Standards