Chinese Lanterns

Chinese Lanterns lesson plan

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.


  • 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.


  • 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 b
  • 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.