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Chinese New Year Dragon

Happy New Year!

What? I’m late for the New Year?  Not if it is Chinese New Year we’re celebrating!

If you’ve ever had the chance to enjoy a Chinese New Year celebration, you know how rich the tradition is!

In anticipation of the start of the Year of the Rabbit on February 3, we made paper chain dragons:


  • construction paper
  • googly eyes
  • feathers
  • tape
  • glue


1. Cut paper into 1 inch wide strips.

2. Tape two ends of a strip together to form a loop.  Then, insert one end of another strip through the loop and connect the ends of that strip to create an interlocking chain.  Repeat until you have a long chain. (My four year old did this with very little help.  My two year old really struggled with managing the strips of paper and the loops.  Clearly I need to let him play with tape more often!)

3.  Take a sheet of construction paper that will form the head of the dragon.  Tri-fold the paper lengthwise and tape or staple to form an envelope of sorts.

4. Now fold the paper in half. Fold each half back again so that you now have an “M” shape. This is also a great base for a puppet because you have the mouth and can insert your thumb to move the bottom “jaw” and the rest of your fingers to move the top jaw.  Trim the edges to form a rounded mouth, if desired.

5. Now comes the fun part!  Tape your dragon’s face to the chain link body and decorate!  We added teeth and an accordion-folded serpent’s tongue:

Some googly eyes:

And lots and lots of feathers.  I originally suggested to the kids just to put the feathers on top of the head but their vision included feathers on the body and who am I to argue with an artist’s vision?

Drape from the ceiling or tape to the wall and enjoy!

Picture Books About Chinese New Year

Bringing in the New Year: A family welcomes the New Year by clearing out the old and starting fresh to welcome luck and prosperity.  Finally, it is time to celebrate with firecrackers, lions, lanterns, and dragons.  A sweet and simple story with bright, eye-catching illustrations will capture the imagination of toddlers through preschoolers.

Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year: Also following the family preparations for the New Year, this book has the added fun of lifting the flaps.  The story line has a little more interest for kindergartners but is still appropriate for tots.  And, there are instructions making a dragon puppet out of a paper bag.

My First Chinese New Year: A little girl enjoys her family’s preparations for the New Year.  Fans of Katz will recognize her characteristic illustrations.

Educational Connections:

  • Culture: Each Chinese Year is represented by an animal on a 12-year zodiacal cycle.  What your Chinese astrological sign?
  • Culture: Which Chinese traditions are supposed to clear out bad luck from the previous year?  Which traditions welcome luck and prosperity for the New Year?  Do you have any similar New Year’s traditions?
  • Home Arts: How do families of Chinese heritage prepare their homes for the New Year?  What does this represent?
  • Home Arts: Make some of the traditional Chinese New Year dishes.
  • Field Trip: See if a cultural center or neighborhood near you is celebrating Chinese New Year and if guests are welcome.
  • Mathematics: The Chinese New Year arrives on a different day of the Western calendar each year.  Why is that?

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Written by

Candace Lindemann, Yale, BA, Harvard Graduate School of Education, EdM, is an educational consultant and published writer. She enjoys new learning experiences with her children, ages 6 and 4 and 1.5.

Filed under: 3-5 (Preschool), 3-5 (Preschool), 3-5 (Preschool), 5-6 (Kindergarten), 5-6 (Kindergarten), 5-6 (Kindergartners), 6-8 (Early Elementary), 6-8 (Early Elementary), 9-11 (Elementary), Featured, History and Culture, Winter · Tags: , , ,

32 Responses to "Chinese New Year Dragon"

  1. Kara says:

    Love these! They are a great idea! We will be celebrating the Chinese New Year on my blog in a few weeks- can I link to you please? Thank you!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Candace Lindemann, Candace Lindemann. Candace Lindemann said: Teaching Moment: Chinese New Year Dragon: Happy New Year! What? I’m late for the New Year?  Not if it is Chines… […]

  3. Candace says:

    Kara: Just got back from a press trip / vacation…yes, please feel free to always share a link to my project (and to grab an image if you like in order to link to it). Glad you like it!

  4. Ticia says:

    Those are super cute! I love how it turned out.

  5. Susana says:

    Oh, thank you for this reminder!! I need to get my books for Chinese New Year, and thank you for our craft idea! This will be perfect for my three youngest.

    Your dragons turned out super!

  6. Oh my., your dragons are PERFECT. I was going to make some dragons with my son, but now I don’t want to anymore, as yours are MUCH BETTER! They are sooooo coool!

    Thank you for linking up. What fun.


  7. Natalie says:

    Those dragons are fantastic, and it’s really neat to see that your 4 year old was able to make hers so independently. I hope that my daughter will have inclination for a Chinese New Year craft and pick this one. We read all three books already, and she really enjoyed them.

  8. Jackie says:

    Very cute! We always celebrate Chinese New Year because my nephews were adopted from China! I was thinking about making a paper bag dragon puppet with my two year old. I think I’m going to use your dragon face though and make it into a puppet. I love the feathers. Also, I love the Karen Katz book. Great suggestion!!

  9. JoAnn Jordan says:

    Wonderful ideas! I have added a link to your post on my blog. Having the books for children is a great resource.

  10. Brilliant! I was searching for a fun activity to do with my first graders and I think I’ve found it! Thank you!

  11. Rachelle says:

    These are great! We’re celebrating Chinese New Year with our play group tomorrow and I think I’ll add this activity to the mix. Thanks, Candace.

  12. theprophecygirl says:

    I love the ideas and thank you for the book recommendations. We are just starting to learn about Chinese culture, since a family member just moved there. I will enjoy this with my 2-year-olds, even if I am the one doing the taping and glueing. :)

  13. […] is a rich tradition….. why not show this to your kids by creating this craft.  Check out NaturallyEducational for all the craft […]

  14. Beth says:

    This is super cute! I’d love for you to link up at my kid oriented TGIF Linky Party – – I know my readers would love this too!!
    Beth =-)

  15. […] year we made a dragon with paper loops. This year I thought we would try a puppet! It looks perhaps a bit too snake-like. I think next […]

  16. […] 1. Paper Chain Dragons from Naturally Educational […]

  17. Lashandra Cridland says:

    This was cute and magical. It was different than a usual proposal. I give the guy credit for planning it all out for her. He’s a keeper.

  18. […] doesn’t love a fun paper chain craft.  Turn your ordinary paper chain into a wonderful Paper Chain Dragon.  Since paper chains are so easy to create and can be made from almost any type of paper they are […]

  19. Lee says:

    Really cute! Wondering how big the green piece of construction is that you used??

  20. Candace says:

    Lee: It was a square sheet that was probably about 8″ x 8″ — letter size would work just fine, too. Or, if you have one of those larger sheets of construction paper, trimming it in half should be large enough. It doesn’t need an exact size. Hope you enjoy!

  21. Lee says:

    Thanks for your quick reply! I think I am stuck on step 3. Not quite sure how this envelope works….my snout is short and I am not sure where I need to tape/staple…..arh!

  22. Candace says:

    Lee: I guess I need to do a video tutorial on this one! Let me see if I can describe it better. Take your paper and fold one third in from one side and one third in from the opposite side. If your paper is a rectangle, make the folds along the longer side. You should now have a folded piece of paper that is one-third the width of the original and the same length. Tape down the second fold over the first fold so that there is still a “tunnel” through the paper…you are NOT closing off the openings at either end. Does that help at all? If not, I will try to take better pictures tonight!

  23. […] Scary Paper Dragons from Naturally Educational. Ah! Oh so scary, oh so simple. Any excuse to put googly eyes on something is also a […]

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