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Chinese New Year History
The Chinese New Year, referred to as the Spring Festival, is a long celebration that begins on the first day of the new moon. For this reason it is never on the same date but always falls in January or February. In 2014 it begins on January 31; in 2015 the date is February 19. It lasts anywhere from 7 to 15 days.
Family and friends clean their homes, exchange gifts, enjoy food, hold parades and enjoy other festivities. It is a time when everyone celebrates their birthday as one and it is thought to bring good luck to the people.
The dragon dance has always been a huge part of the celebration. The ancient Chinese honored dragons and viewed them as sacred beings that lived under the ground and ruled the lakes and seas. Although modern Chinese view the dragon as a mythological being, most people still believe that they bring good luck; so the dragon dance continues to be the highlight of the Chinese New Year held in Chinatowns around the globe. A special team of dancers carry a "life-size" dragon on poles and dance. Everyone gets involved in the parade, waving dragons and dressing up in costumes.
Children will find the Chinese New Year and dragons fascinating while looking at pictures, learning the history and creating stunning dragons of thier own.
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After learning the history of the Chinese New Year and viewing pictures of a variety of dragons, children will create their own beautifully colored dancing dragon and march around the room to the beat of Chinese music.
- Different colored paints
- 3 sheets of white typing paper for each child
- A dragon template or pencil to freehand
- Black marker
- 2 tongue depressors per student
Create Your Dancing Dragon:
This project will take a few art periods to complete.
Day 1: Older children will enjoy drawing their own dragons. Younger children can use the the dragon templates available to download if you click on the link. Print out the templates on white typing paper or have children freehand their own. Draw a dragon head on one sheet, body on the second sheet and the tail on the third piece of paper. Outline the dragon with the black marker pen. Using bright colors and the paint brush, paint the dragon.
Day 2: Once the dragon is dry, the children can decorate their dragons with glue and glitter.
Day 3: Complete the dragon by cutting it out, folding the body like an accordion, and taping the three pieces together. Place the tape on the back of the dragon and attach a tongue depressor on the head and tail using tape.
Once the dragons are complete, play some Chinese music and have children make their dragons dance and sway to the beat. The dragon head template can be found here. The dragon body and tail can be found here.
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- Heavy white paper
- Paint or markers
- Sequins (optional)
- Feathers (optional)
- Dragon face template or pencil to freehand
- Tongue depressors
Make the Mask:
Children can draw their own dragon face or use a template to trace their dragon face on the heavy white paper. Color or paint, and let dry. Use glitter, sequins or feathers to decorate the mask. Cut the eyes out and attach a tongue depressor to hold the mask.
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Dragon Collage Art
- Magazines, wrapping paper etc.
- White heavy paper
- Black marker
- Dragon template
- Tongue depressor (optional)
- Tape (optional)
How to Make:
Children will tear pieces of magazines or wrapping paper and glue on the entire area of the white paper. After the picture is allowed to dry overnight, children will draw a dragon on the opposite side or use a template and trace the dragon. Add details with a black marker. Cut it out and glue to white paper or tape a tongue depressor on the back.
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Children love to work with different textured materials. Three dimensional dragons can easily be made using a variety of materials. I used rice, but the sky is the limit as to the things that can be used -- children may use eggshells, beans, seeds, sequins and feathers or a mixture of several materials.
- Heavy white or black paper
- Pencil to freehand or dragon template
- Colored markers
- Glitter (silver)
Students will trace or draw a dragon on 1, 2, or 3 sheets of heavy white paper, depending on how big they want to make their dragon. Outline with a black marker and add details with markers. The teacher will color the rice with food coloring ahead of time. Place glue where desired and sprinkle with rice or other different textured materials. Artwork may be framed and displayed around the room.
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In addition to the Chinese New Year dragons art lesson listed above, children can make paper mache dragons and masks or hand print dragons. Having children create a lantern craft is another way to brighten up a Chinese New Year celebration. Whatever you choose, your students are sure to treasure their dragons for years to come.
- Crafts, art and photos by Lisa King, all rights reserved.
Paper Mache Dragons; http://www.web-holidays.com/chinese/crafts/06.htm
Hand Print Dragon; http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/handprint_dragon.htm
Chinese New Year; http://www.theholidayspot.com/chinese_new_year/
Moon Festival; http://www.moonfestival.org/legends/dragon.htm