Chinese Lanterns


Learn about Chinese culture, celebrations, and traditional symbolic writing then include characters and images in an original paper lantern decoration.


1. Explore the Chinese lunar calendar and its associated animal (2002, horse; 2003, sheep; 2004, monkey; 2005, rooster). Discover how and when the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival is celebrated by Chinese people around the world.

2. Find out how to make a few Chinese characters that symbolize words that are meaningful to you. There are more than 47,000 symbols in the language, so use a Chinese speaker, dictionary, or Web site to help you.

3. Cover your work surface with newspaper. Paint a Chinese animal figure (perhaps the current year or the one of your birth) on a large rectangular sheet of white drawing paper using Crayola® Washable Tempera and Paint Brushes.

4. Paint Chinese characters around the figure. Make characters using different brush angles and pressures. Dry overnight.

5. Fold the painting in half, lengthwise. On the folded edge, and perpendicular to the fold, cut evenly spaced slits in the painting with Crayola® Scissors. The cuts should end approximately 2 inches (5 cm) before the edge of the paper.

6. Unfold your painting. Using Crayola® Glue Sticks, glue one of the short sides to the other, creating a cylinder. Spread the slits at the fold, creating a lantern effect.

7. Attach a handle to your lantern, using a strip of paper and glue stick.

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 Washable Paints—Not for use as body/face paint.

Scissors—ATTENTION: The cutting edges of scissors are sharp and care should be taken whenever cutting or handling. Blunt-tip scissors should be used only by children 4 years and older. Pointed-tip scissors should be used only by children 6 years and older.


  • Celebrate the Chinese New Year at the appropriate time (second new moon following the winter solstice) with a display of Chinese lanterns. Find out what foods are typically eaten and other traditions observed. Ask someone from China, or a person who has been there, to describe the country and its people.
  • Calligraphy is an honored art in China. Make your own dictionary of Chinese characters. Choose characters that have special meaning to you.
  • Find out the many ways in which cultures around the world make, decorate, and use lanterns.

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

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crayola supplies
  • Paint Brushes
  • Washable Kid's Paint
  • Glue Sticks
  • Pointed Tip Scissors
  • Construction Paper
household supplies
  • recycled newspaper
  • paper towels
  • container(s) of water



  • Grades 1 to 3
  • Grades 4 to 6
  • Grades 7 to 12


  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Visual Arts


  • Multiple Sessions


  • Students research Chinese culture, the lunar calendar, and how the new year is celebrated in China.

  • Students research several different meaningful Chinese characters.

  • Students paint animal figures and Chinese characters then cut and fold painted paper to make a lantern decoration.


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Research U.S. Standards